The Ghoul

Ye olde Brit hor­ror

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Dvd & Blu-Ray -

Re­lease Date: 20 April 1933 | PG | Blu- ray Direc­tor: T Hayes Hunter Cast: Boris Karloff, Cedric Hard­wicke, Ernest Th­e­siger, Dorothy Hyson, An­thony Bushell, Ralph Richard­son

Once thought lost, The Ghoul has some sig­nif­i­cance as the first Bri­tish hor­ror film with sound, and for fea­tur­ing Boris Karloff, back from Hol­ly­wood hot off the suc­cess of Franken­stein and The Mummy. It’s an an­te­dilu­vian ef­fort, but this HD trans­fer plays up its bet­ter qual­i­ties.

Karloff plays a dy­ing Egyp­tol­o­gist who makes his ser­vant ban­dage a sa­cred jewel in his hand, hop­ing that it’ll cause him to rise from the tomb af­ter he pops his clogs. The jewel is stolen – but that doesn’t stop the dead man from wak­ing up, and now that he’s miffed he goes on a bloody ram­page, pick­ing off some of the many folk now wan­der­ing around his Old Dark House.

The Ghoul is a mixed bag: what still im­presses is the ex­pres­sion­ist photography by Aus­trian vet­eran Gun­ther Krampf and much of the set de­sign – par­tic­u­larly an of­fice that’s like some­thing out of a Dr Seuss night­mare. Less cap­ti­vat­ing is the script, which al­lows a gag­gle of stage ac­tors to wan­der in and out of repet­i­tive scenes, rab­bit­ing in ec­cen­tric fash­ion as they go. Much of it is tire­some, con­fused and silly – and the comic re­lief from actress Kath­leen Har­ri­son grates rather.

Karloff doesn’t have much screen time and that’s a pity, but when he does, par­tic­u­larly af­ter his res­ur­rec­tion, the king of hor­ror makes it count: those strik­ing fea­tures de­mand at­ten­tion.

Ex­tras: An af­fec­tion­ate and in­formed com­men­tary from jour­nal­ists Kim New­man and Stephen Jones, plus a pic­ture gallery. Rus­sell Lewin One of The Ghoul’s writ­ers was Ron­ald Per­twee, fa­ther of Third Doc­tor Jon Per­twee and grand­fa­ther of Gotham’s Sean Per­twee.

House view­ings were al­ways edgy when Frank was around.

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