The Ghoul (1933) – T. Hayes Hunter

Horror legend Boris Karloff takes on the zombie genre in the next film in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies, although with the introduction of Egyptology into the story, one could make an argument that it could fall into the mummy genre as well.

Karloff is Professor Morlant an aging, and dying Egyptologist. He’s been disfigured by some lethal disease, but hopes for a life eternal when he gets his hand on a sacred Egyptian jewel which he plans to give to the death god, Anubis, in exchange for immortality.

Laying on strict guidelines for his burial things seem to be going well, but after someone breaks into his tomb and makes off with the jewel, Morlant returns to exact revenge on the first full moon.

But who has the jewel? Is it a member of the family who has arrived learning of Morlant’s death, one of the servants, or someone looking to return the jewel to its proper place?

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I was delighted to see English acting legend Ralph Richardson making an appearance in this film… I didn’t recognize him until he spoke, and his eyebrows.

The film tries to marry Gothic English with the zombie genre with a mix of Egyptian mythology mixed in, as well as a but of a whodunnit. There are some interesting moments, and it confines itself to some singular locations without a lot of camera movement, and it was then I realized that the film was based on a play by the same name.

There are a lot of character moments to make you either like or despise a character, and despite his billing Karloff is poorly used, and does not have tons of screen time and that is a horrible misuse of this classic actor because whenever he’s on screen he captivates. The film tries to engender a sense of creepiness, highlighted by some good lighting work, but it just lacks a true sense of eeriness.

Still, having said that, the film is definitely still worth a look for horror fans, though it can’t quite be tied down to a single horror genre.

I have to say though, I was delighted to come across a ‘zombie’ film that I hadn’t heard of, and as I look ahead in the chapter, there are going to be a number of them that I have never seen before from the 40s and 50s, and some wonderful classics to revisit.

So if zombies are your thing, or other things that go bump in the night, puck up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something macabre to watch by the full moon.

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