The Ghoul

Movie Information

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Ghoul Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Genre: Horror
Director: T. Hayes Hunter
Starring: Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, Dorothy Hyson, Anthony Bushell, Ralph Richardson
Rated: NR

Lost for years (a situation that suited star Boris Karloff), T. Hayes Hunter’s The Ghoul (1933) returned to us in stages. First, a very dark, censored version turned up in Czechoslovakia and that was made available with the Czech subtitles clumsily blacked out. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to be intriguing. Considerably later, a pristine print (the movie looks like it might have been shot yesterday) was found buried under a pile of lumber in the studio—and what was previously intriguing was suddenly catapulted to full-blown genre classic. Prior to this, The Ghoul was thought of as a footnote—something Karloff made in England during a salary dispute with Universal, technically inferior to its Hollywood counterpart etc. It’s no such thing. In fact, it’s one of the most effective of all classic horrors; it’s splendidly made; and its use of a background score (particularly, a chunk of Wagner’s “Siegfried’s Death and Funeral March”) was as sophisticated as anything Universal was doing. Its story of dead Egyptologist Prof. Morlant (Karloff) returning from the dead to retrieve a jewel that was stolen from his corpse—a jewel that was meant to be his passport to the afterlife in the Egyptian underworld—is actually very creepy, and it’s played to the hilt. In fact, the film—especially its climax with Morlant carving symbols into his own chest—is surprisingly gruesome. The cast is perfect, and it’s a treat to see the very young Ralph Richardson in his film debut.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “The Ghoul

  1. Chip Kaufmann

    How did THE GHOUL being lost for years suit Boris Karloff?

  2. Ken Hanke

    How did THE GHOUL being lost for years suit Boris Karloff?

    He apparently didn’t think much of it. He was quoted on a few occasions expressing his hope that no one looked for it too hard.

  3. Chip Kaufmann

    He often said that about most of his movies. He was once quoted as saying that his wife had very good taste as she had seen very few of his pictures.

  4. Ken Hanke

    He often said that about most of his movies.

    It’d be kind of hard to say that about the ones that weren’t considered lost.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.