Sunday, February 13, 2011

#191. The Ghoul (1933)

DVD Synopsis: On his deathbed, famed Egyptologist Professor Morlant (Karloff) instructs his assistant to bury him with an ancient jewel he believes will grant him eternal life. But soon after he’s entombed, the sacred treasure is ripped from his hand by a mysterious grave robber. Now, filled with fury, Morlant rises from his crypt as a grotesquely decaying mummy determined to avenge the theft...and destroy everything in his path!










Released in 1933, The Ghoul was the first British horror film of the sound era, and to make it an especially memorable one, the producers brought in a fellow countryman of theirs, one who had recently risen to superstar status in Hollywood, to serve as the film's star. The countryman of whom I speak is none other than “The Monster” himself, Mr. Boris Karloff! 

Karloff plays Professor Moriant, a dying man who is obsessed with all things Egyptian. Knowing the end is near, Moriant spends a large amount of money on an Egyptian jewel known as The Eternal Light, which he believes will allow him to rise from his grave when the moon is full. He orders his servant, Laing (Ernst Thesiger), to bury the jewel with him, and warns of dire consequences if his wishes are not carried out. Moriant dies shortly after, and is buried in a lavish tomb decked out with Egyptian artifacts, but Laing, who believes his master had gone insane, keeps the priceless jewel and hides it away. Unbeknownst to him, there are others who also want the Eternal Light, and will stop at nothing to possess it. But when the first full moon rises, Laing and all the others experience the surprise of their lives. 

With The Ghoul, director T. Hayes Hunter and his cameraman, Gunther Krampf, went to great lengths to capture the look and feel of Universal's recent string of horror successes (Both Dracula and Frankenstein had been released 2 years earlier). The set pieces are both lavish and large (Moriant's house, where most of the film takes place, seems incredibly huge), not to mention dimly lit, so as to strengthen the film's supernatural aura. I was also impressed with how the filmmakers utilized music in key scenes; "Siegfried's Funeral March" from Wagner's Gotterdammerung plays as Moriant's body is being placed in his tomb, and is used sporadically throughout the movie from that moment on. It is a somber piece, and fits the story quite nicely. 

Karloff was not particularly fond of The Ghoul (for decades, The Ghoul was considered a "lost" film, with no prints or negatives known to be in existence. Upon hearing this, Karloff stated that he hoped it stayed lost forever), and in all honestly, I can't understand why. While his role was admittedly less than demanding (Moriant has very few lines), the legendary actor still made the best of it, creeping through dark hallways and corridors, and scaring the living hell out of everyone he meets. His performance, in conjuncture with the film's impressive use of music, space and shadows, transforms The Ghoul from what otherwise might have been a standard horror film into something truly noteworthy.


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39 comments:

Anonymous said...

another excellent episode on planet macabre gotta check out the ghoul neat dvd cover too - marcello

Dave Becker said...

Marcello: Thanks so much for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre. It is appreciated.

And I agree...the DVD cover for THE GHOUL is very cool.

Please let me know what you think of the film when you see it, and thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Sweet impersonation again Doctor with John Carradine, I remember seeing Shock Waves but forget it totally. I think Carradine is a great actor I will have to rent and rewatch that per yer request.

May I suggest Mary, Mary Bloody Mary a vampire film where Carradine plays the father.

J.J.

Dave Becker said...

J.J. Thanks so much for the comment, and for stopping by.

John Carradine is one of the greats, and I did like him in SHOCK WAVES (and thanks for the kind words about the impersonation, Carradine in this film was an easy one to do!).

I will certainly keep an eye out for MARY, MARY BLOODY MARY. I've not seen that one before, but if it's got Carradine, I'll definitely want to check it out!

Take care, and thanks again

Anonymous said...

drshock;; forgiv my inglis i am abhay from maharshtra india an herd the recent planet podcast an since i am out of the americas is ther a link to watch the ghoul online; thank you sir

Dave Becker said...

Abhay: Your English is perfectly fine. It's certainly much better than my Hindi! Thanks for visiting my blog, and for listening to PLANET MACABRE.

The Ghoul is available on Youtube. If you go to http://www.youtube.com and search on THE GHOUL 1933, you should be able to find it (It's broken down into chapters, though I'm not sure how many chapters make up the complete film)

After the first chapter is done playing, the link to the next chapter should pop up.

Of course, the DVD is the best way to go, but I do understand that this just isn't possible for you.

Thanks again for listening, and for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

You cannot go wrong with Boris Doctor.

Another damn fine episode of Planet Macabre. I was laughing throughout the cast while getting my horror fix on!

I see your Amazon link has the DVD for $1.07, would you trust the Amazon Affiliates or would you recommend the $9.98 directly from Amazon?

Chaz
Orlando, FL
Home of Walt Disney World

Dave Becker said...

Chaz: Thanks for stopping by, and for listening to PLANET MACABRE. I'm happy you enjoyed the new episode. I had a great time recording it as well.

And yes, Boris and Bela are almost ALWAYS automatics for me!

As for the DVD of THE GHOUL, I did check out some of the Marketplace sellers who had it available, and they all seemed like pretty reliable sellers to me (most of them, I myself have bought from in the past, with no issues). Personally, I won't buy anything that isn't in LIKE NEW or VERY GOOD condition, but GOOD may be alright as well. I also won't buy from anyone under a 95% positive rating, but again, that's a personal preference.

Even though it may cost me a little money (I get a small commission each time someone buys through my link), there really isn't anything wrong with most of the marketplace sellers, so if you're comfortable with it, save yourself a little money and go that route instead.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for listening!

Anonymous said...

Good horror choice this episode, I can tell your fans of the real horror icons. Nice to see this day and age. Most people think Freddy, Jason + Michael are icons, thats a fail in my standards, these are the true legends.

Keep up the great horror podcasting my friend. - Wally

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the quick reply. I will tell you it is hit or miss on blogs with authors responding and that usually deters me from ever leaving comments.

Your honesty about the Amazon ordeal with your commission is such a humbling attribute. I will definitely be checking out your blog on a weekly basis to look for DVD deals.

I want you to get the commission I just don't feel that this 80 year old movie garners $10 plus shipping, but I am sure I will be using your buy links in the future when I think it has a re-playability factor.

Again I want to thank you for the podcast and the content here.

Even more of a fan today then yesterday knowing of the high moral values you hold.

Chaz
Orlando, FL
Home of Walt Disney World

Dave Becker said...

@Wally: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

While I am a fan of some more recent horror as well, I do agree with you that the true icons of the genre are the ones who started it all.

Thanks again for the kind words, and thanks so much for listening!

Dave Becker said...

@Chaz: Thank you, sir. I appreciate the kind words.

And I do agree with you in regards to the price. Honestly, it's much more important to me that people check out the movie I'm recommending. If they purchase through a link on my site, fine. If not, that's also fine. The work I put into both this blog and the Planet Macabre podcast I do to expose readers (and listeners) to movies they might otherwise have never heard of. Commissions are nice, but trust me, I have no expectations of ever getting rich off of them! It really is the movies that matter.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

will be listening to the latest episode at work today-just loaded it up. i presume this was the chills pick-if it is cant wait to hear the explanation on it to see if it deserves a pucrhase - G.Higgins

Dave Becker said...

@G. Higgins: Hello, and thanks for stopping by!

Yeah, I suppose posting my pick the day the show is downloaded is a bit of a spoiler for the many who don't get a chance to listen right away. My apologies!

But I won't spoil the reasons why for you, anyway.

Thanks again, and please let me know what you thought of the show!

Anonymous said...

All 5 of the hosts really gel together nicely---a compare and contrast type of feel---such a good podcast---Farley---CA, US

Dave Becker said...

Farley: Thanks very much for the comment, and for listening to PLANET MACABRE. We appreciate it.

We have a fun time recording the show, and it's good to see it's just as entertaining to listen to!

Have a great day, and again, thanks.

Anonymous said...

excellent episode and nothing was spoiled sir, actually looked forward to hearing about it and it was as good as I thought - G.Higgins

Dave Becker said...

@G. Higgins: Thanks so much. I appreciate your comments.

I can tell you we have another great show lined up as well (Billchete's picks this time), and I'll do my best to recommend another worthwhile classic as well.

Thanks again, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Just got off of work & if I didn't have to recharge my iPod I would of forgot to leave a note again.

Just wanted to say that the Planet Macabre Podcast is an exhilarating look into horror movies. So many of the others are lethargic, boring and pretty ridiculous, they like to ramble on about other stuff not even related.

Planet Macabre is the only Podcast that I listen to anymore.

You Dr.Shock with BillChete & LadyPhantom are my favs & I do miss the Lady, hopefully she will be back soon.

Listened twice to the latest episode and relistened to episode 2 the best of 2010 to jot down some movies to buy over my weekend, this was my Friday, Yay for me.

Keep the Podcast going strong!

Hertzogg

Anonymous said...

You are a humble guy and I appreciate that. Please know that I am a faithful listener and will be checking your blog out on a frequent basis.

Chaz
Orlando, FL
Home of Walt Disney World

Dave Becker said...

Hertzogg,

Thanks so much for the kind words, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

We are truly humbled by your comments. It's nice to hear that the good time we have recording the show makes it's way through to the listeners as well.

As for Lady Phantom, she's due back the beginning of March, so there will be one more episode without her (though there is a pretty special guest lined up to take her place). Hang in there...she'll be back soon!

Enjoy the movies, and your "weekend", and please stop back to let us know what you think after watching them.

Thanks again

Dave Becker said...

Chaz,

Again, thank you so much, and I look forward to discussing movies with you over the coming months!

Thanks again for listening, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

great horror choice with the ghoul i had never seen it and watched it online / i am holding off buying the remake of i spit on your grave until i hear the ratings / i do want the bluray hopefully it will come in high i need it to grow lol / nice island style song at the end of the show doctor

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for listening to Planet macabre.

I'm glad you enjoyed THE GHOUL. As I said, Karloff himself wasn't particularly fond of the film, but I really don't see why not. He was quite good in it, and there was enough atmosphere to keep the film engaging.

As for the new I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, we'll see! I did see that they recently released both versions on Blu-Ray. Do you have the original?

Thanks again (and I'm also glad you liked the song!).

Anonymous said...

WOW! DR SHOCK u r a popular man, it took me 20 minutes to get thru all the comments.

I just wanted say excellent episode that #6, found some new movies I never heard of. Very good theme covering the 70's, especially someone my age of 50.

Anonymous said...

Sure thing doctor but ty for providing great horror content---I netflixed that dead snow zombie movie---fantastic---Farley---CA, US

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet macabre.

I'm glad you enjoyed episode #6. We did cover some good ones (and, of course, a few not-so-good). The 70's were, indeed, a great decade for horror. Please stop back and let me know what you think of the movies we discussed when you get a chance to watch them.

Thanks again.

Dave Becker said...

@Farley: You're welcome (and I'm glad you enjoyed DEAD SNOW).

Anonymous said...

The Ghoul was GOOD, Mister Shock, I liked it a lot, got it in a 5 buck bin at Wal-Mart. Thanks for the recommendation.

Pierce
Homer Glen, IL

Dave Becker said...

Pierce: Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

I'm so glad you enjoyed THE GHOUL. It's definitely an overlooked gem starring one of horror's most talented actors.

And it's great that you found it in Wal-Mart's $5 bin. All I can find in my Wal-Mart's cheap bin is thousands of copies of DUNSTON CHECKS IN!

Thanks again, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Crept over from the podcast website and found your love for Karloff engaging. Another one worth mentioning [hopefully you will like it] is a 1940 horror masterpiece called You'll find out, Karloff plays a judge.

I figured I would check out your website while waiting for the next episode!

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Yes, I love the old horror classics with Lugosi and Karloff (and I'm also a BIG Vincent Price fan as well). One of the things I like about doing the Planet Macabre podcast is that it gives me a chance to throw the spotlight on these old-time horror films, which may have slipped by unnoticed otherwise.

Thanks again for stopping by, and keep listening...the next show is shaping up to be a good one!

Anonymous said...

hiya docter shock - vary good podcast you are a part of and i deeply like your feel for the older horror flix, they r going by the wayside quickly, but with the podcast you r bringing them back to the fore front.

samuelson from the netherlands

Dave Becker said...

Samuelson: Thanks for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

It's been great hearing from so many people like yourself who still watch the old-time horror films. I thank you for the kind words, and I hope you enjoy my selections going forward.

Thanks again, and have a grreat day.

Anonymous said...

wrapped up pod #6 & it was a good ride highly entertaining and it was informative to boot.

tons of movie info here also nice to see dedicated fans.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Glad to hear you enjoyed Episode $6. Episode #7 will be posting one week from today, and should be another good one!

I appreciate your feedback, and thanks again for listening!

Anonymous said...

SUPER Podcast DoctorShock and to all involved. An extremely nice mixture of hosts, something horror movie related for everyone. Lupie

Dave Becker said...

Lupie: Thanks so much for the comment, and for stopping by.

I also appreciate the kind words about Planet Macabre. We have a great time recording the shows, and are glad you enjoy them as well.

Take care, and thanks for listening!

Edwyna Washington said...

Karloff was impressive, as usual in this film. Reminds me of other American horror films of the era, including Dracula, The Mummy (original), Night of the Living Dead (original), The Werewolf, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name a few. Glad it was found and can take its place among the classics.