The Ghoul (1933)
The Ghoul is one of Boris Karloff’s lesser known movies but still pretty good. I caught it on Turner Classic Movies a few years back and liked it. It’s not a great movie but it’s still good fun. It is a British film, released by Gaumont, but they were obviously aiming squarely at fans of Universal’s horror output. This film has the same eerie silence and moody lighting of those early Universal classics and even reunites Karloff with Ernest Thesiger. Both had played in the 1932 Universal movie The Old Dark House and of course would go on to even greater success when they shared screen time again in 1934’s Bride of Frankenstein.
What is really interesting about this movie is that it was considered to be a lost film for 31 years and then in 1969 a worn out, subtitled, and edited copy of the film was found in Czechoslovakia. Finally in the early ’80s a perfectly stored copy was discovered in a British movie studio vault. Fast forward to 2003 and MGM released that version on DVD to the masses.
It has been said this film combines elements of Universal’s The Mummy and The Old Dark House. Having not seen The Old Dark House yet, I can’t comment on that but The Mummy element is certainly there. Karloff’s character believes if he dies with an amulet on his person as an offering to Anubis, he will be granted eternal life. The amulet is stolen before he is entombed and of course Karloff comes back from being “dead” to wreck havoc and get revenge. Is it essential horror? No but I still recommend it for fans of classic horror. It might as well have been made by Universal.
Oh, I forgot one thing! Here’s an exchange between two characters that I really loved the first time I saw this movie:
Broughton: I advise you to be very careful, Laing.
Laing: I’ve a careful nature.
Broughton: You may be putting yourself perilously near dishonesty.
Laing: I’ve seen men nearer.
I don’t know why but I’ve always thought that was a really cool exchange.
If you would like the see the Czech print of this film, it can be downloaded for free at the Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/details/TheGhoul but as far as I know, only MGM holds the rights to the cleaned up full version so you’ll have to get your hands on the DVD for that. It’s also available for streaming from Netflix.