|A classic case of knullrufs.|
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Night of the Ghouls (1959)
The same year as the legendary Plan 9 From Outer Space our hero Edward D. Wood Jr squeezed out another classic, Night of the Ghouls! It was actually not released until the early eighties when Wade William's - after Wood's widow told him about it - paid the lab-fees and released it to a fresh generation of unsuspecting audiences.
A mysterious medium, Dr. Acula (Kenne Duncan) holds séances in an old house out in the forest. It was previously owned by a crazy scientist who created monsters there! Anyway, nowadays Dr. Acula lures stupid people there and with the help of homemade special effects and actors fooling them he's in contact with the dead - or...? Because outside in the forest, two ghosts is messing around, the white ghost and the black ghost and yeah... Acula also have Bolo (Tor Johnson) to protect him from those who might want to stop him...something...
In many ways this feels like something of a sequel to both Plan 9 and Bride of the Monster. The villain, Dr. Acula (played by a very, VERY boring Kenne Duncan) is an obvious nod to many of the exotic characters Lugosi did during his fine career. The story references a house where a mad scientist created monsters (Bride of the Monsters) and the "black ghost" in the forest echoes Vampira in Plan 9 a lot. Maybe it wasn't the meaning, but there's a lot of Wood in this movie - including fun in-joke where a portrait of Ed Wood is visible in the police station, hanging on a wall in the back ground.
The thin plot is almost impossible to trace, but I actually think this film has a couple of really neat ideas. I think the final twist is quite good - but could have been made a lot better and maybe more logical (if that's possible) and the INSANE séance gives it an extra dimension of wackiness. It has everything from a flying trumpet, obviously played by a ghost who can't play to a flying afro-American head, wearing a safari hat, who talks with a grotesque slowed voice! Much of the sets is just a flat wall - or even worse, a totally black room - and most of the actors is behaving like they really wanna be somewhere else. The big exception is Paul Marco, a Wood-veteran, who does his mumbling cop once again. You can't blame him for being a good actor, but at least he gives everything he has in the performance.
Another interesting idea, who predates X-Files and all those TV-shows, is that one of the characters, Police Lieutenant Daniel Bradford (not a bad job by Duke Moore) works for a special section of the force, dealing with the unknown and supernatural. It's a pity
performance is hampered by some really crappy editing, which makes his reaction
shots look very out of place. Moore
And hey! I almost forgot! Criswell, my role model in life, stars as himself and as some supernatural being. I love the knullrufs Criswell have the first time he raises from his coffin in the beginning of the movie. He might be the coolest guy on earth, but the fact is that he can't act himself out of a wet paper bag and can't keep his eyes of the signs with dialogue just beside the camera. Way to go, you're the best anyway!
Night of the Ghouls is not the best movie Wood made, but the title is very cool and it has a couple of brilliant, crazy, scenes that's hard to forgot + pretty interesting ideas.