Monsters & Memories 16: The Ghoul (1933) – By Ed Davis

Ahhh, My Groovy Ghoulies! It has been too long since I’ve a chance to share the great Horror and Sci-Fi films of the past with you all.  The past few months, the Missus and I have been busy with our little foster drooly ghoulie!  We’ve had a chance to put a fresh coat of mildew and cobwebs here in the crypt and are ready to unleash a whole batch of Monsters & Memories for you! I thought this movie made a fine choice to kick things off once more! Boris Karloff stuck close to the Egyptian roots of The Mummy for 1933’s “The Ghoul”.  Karloff goes seeking eternal life.  But does he find it?

This movie is based loosely on a 1928 novel and play by Frank King. And I say loosely because most of it is thrown out, and goes for more of a horror feel instead of a mystery approach as the novel took.  In the novel, The Ghoul stands revealed as very much alive.  You almost think the Scooby Gang should unmask him.  “And he would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”

Not so in the movie.  Boris Karloff plays Professor Morlant.  He has purchased an Egyptian jewel called The Eternal Light.  If he is buried with it, in his tomb that he built into the English countryside, the Egyptian god Anubis will appear and grant him eternal life.  Morlant is already dying, and hopes this is the cure he’s looking for.  Add to the cast:  jewel thieves, a Vicar, and fighting cousins and you have a great film. It’s fun to see the jewel go from person to person, as we wonder who will end up with it. There’s also the fact that Boris Karloff rises from the grave, to hunt those that have stolen the jewel he was supposed to be buried with.

This is a fine early British horror film, even displaying the certificate at the beginning stating this film was suitable for adult audiences.  Karloff is such a great actor.  I have really grown to appreciate his performances and always look forward to what film we’re going to see from him next. When he returns from the grave, moving the door to his crypt out of the way, he truly seems like the dead reanimated.  He channels some of his Frankenstein Monster, Mummy, and manservant Morgan from “The Old Dark House”. He’s a tragic figure, and I felt somewhat bad for him toward the end.

The rest of the cast was enjoyable.  Some staples of the Universal horror movies, Cedric Hardwicke and Ernest Thesiger provided fine performances.  Thesiger played the butler in the film, and I had a lot of fun watching him perform.  He’s such a creepy man!  Dorothy Hyson played the female lead, and I want to see more of her credits, including some more from the horror genre.  Kathleen Harrison offered some fine comic relief as Dorothy Hyson’s maid(?) Not really a maid, but more of a servant character.  She has a couple of really great comedic moments in the film.

The house where all the characters convene is not unlike many of the houses from this time period in cinema. You have big windows, flash lightning from them; a creepy staircase in the middle of it all; cobwebs and shadows. Just the kind of place I’d love to live in.

This was a lost Karloff film for many years, and has only been back in the public for viewing since 1969. A bad subtitled version was found in Czechoslovakia and it was thought to be the only copy left. The actual negative was found in the 80s at Shepperton Studios in a vault that had been blocked for years. Finally, it has been enjoyed by all since 2003. Definitely one that you should check out.

And since we are talking about Ghouls, I thought The Groovie Ghoulies would make a fine addition to the Memories section.  An awesome cartoon from Filmation which appeared on television in the early 70s.  It appeared in syndication in the later 70s, when I became a fan.  They were hip versions of the great monsters.  You can even catch episodes of them from time to time.  I found this really cool coloring book online, featuring all the main characters.  I can only imagine what great pictures lie within. Anyone out there still have a copy of this?  Speaking of the Groovie Ghoulies, you can catch episdoes of them right here on the Fright Channel from time to time, along with some new programming coming soon! Please check it out!

That’s all for this time, my Ghoulies!  There’s plenty more to come, and I look forward to sharing another classic with you soon. Check out The Fright Channel for great horror the way it used to be.  And become a friend on Facebook at Ed D’s MonstersandMemories.  Until then, keep watching the skies

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