The Ghoul

The Ghoul is currently available on Amazon Prime

The Ghoul (1933)

“Egyptologist Boris Karloff is buried with a rare jewel that is supposed to give its owner eternal life. When it is stolen, he rises from the dead to get it back. In HD.”

“We all know that dead men don’t come back.”

The Ghoul was the first British horror ‘talkie’. Boris Karloff was fresh off his starring roles in Universal’s Frankenstein and The Mummy. The opening gives him top-billing in a way too busy title card. The story is really intended to capitalize on the success of The Mummy with Egyptology, tombs, and rising from the dead all playing a part.

Although derivative of The Mummy, I really love the irony that the plot is propelled by someone breaking into an Egyptologist’s tomb and robbing the dead. The story is very good but the ending is fairly weak (and did I mention derivative of The Mummy yet?).

Boris Karloff plays Egyptologist Professor Henry Morlant. Karloff’s performances are a lot more subtle and a lot less stagy than those of Lugosi. Unfortunately Karloff all but disappears from the second act and just skulks in the third. Thankfully there is a good cast backing him up.

Ernest Thesiger, who had worked with Karloff on The Old Dark House and would again in The Bride of Frankenstein, plays Laing, Professor Morlant’s butler. Amusingly in The Old Dark House, Karloff plays his butler. Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays a rather unscrupulous character named Broughton. Hardwicke would go on to appear in Universal’s Ghost of Frankenstein (without Karloff), The Invisible Man Returns, Invisible Agent, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The makeup jobs on Karloff (pre- and post-mortem) and Thesiger may not be Jack Pierce iconic but are quite well done. Music is serviceable but unremarkable.

The print here has been considerably cleaned up. This is a very good looking picture for a 1930s horror movie. Sound is equally impressive.

People Watch: Sir Ralph Richardson makes his film debut as young Nigel Hartley (the parson). Although he has a slew of memorable roles, I like him best as Ulrich in Dragonslayer and the Supreme Being in Time Bandits.

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