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The Ghoul
The Ghoul
Actors: Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, Dorothy Hyson, Anthony Bushell
Director: T. Hayes Hunter
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
UR     2003     1hr 17min

In an eerie, fog-shrouded London, an ancient curse has been unleashed and a reign of terror is about to begin! Horror movie legend Boris Karloff is unforgettable in this "blood-curdling" (Motion Picture Herald) thriller th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, Dorothy Hyson, Anthony Bushell
Director: T. Hayes Hunter
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/26/2003
Original Release Date: 11/25/1933
Theatrical Release Date: 11/25/1933
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 17min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Ghoulish Bit of Cinema History
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 12/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In this 1933 British film--made between Boris Karloff's stints as the monster in 1931's FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1935--Karloff plays a dying Egyptologist who possesses an occult gem, known as The Eternal Light, that he believes will bring him immortality if he is buried with it and is thereby able to present it to Anubis in the afterlife. Of course, his bickering, covetous heirs and avaricious associates would rather keep the gem for themselves. With this in mind, Karloff vows to rise from his grave and seek revenge should anybody meddle in his plans, and he keeps this promise when, just after his death, one of his colleagues steals The Eternal Light.THE GHOUL is an atmospheric gothic flick that generates a lot of gooseflesh, but modern audiences may find the plot development a bit slow, and gore-hounds weaned on the likes of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and similar fare will certainly not think the film is very scary. But film aficionados who love the old Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 1940s will find a lot to enjoy here.The acting is very good--especially from Ernest Thesiger, who would later go on to play Dr. Pretorious in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN--though the excellent Karloff has only a few dramatic scenes early on and, as a risen corpse, is later reduced to staggering around in creepy make-up (reminiscent of his make-up in THE MUMMY the year before). Supporting performances from Cedric Hardwicke and Ralph Richardson help round out the good job delivered by a wonderful cast.Based on both the novel and the play by Dr. Frank King and Leonard J. Hines, this early British horror film--the first to receive an "H" ("Horrific") rating from the British Board of Film Censors--was once thought to have been forever lost to history. A complete print of THE GHOUL was discovered in Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s, however, and was later restored under the supervision of the Museum of Modern art and Janus Films. The MGM DVD transfer was made from this beautifully restored print, and the VERY reasonable price of said disc definitely makes this a must-have for serious film collectors and students of classic cinema."
Immortal (reborn, actually) classic!
Benoit Racine | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 09/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I chanced upon a mention of this film on the internet recently and then read DVD Savant's authoritative review [...] of two years ago. I bought the DVD last week and watched it twice since. I just want to say that, if anything, Savant's review was not enthusiastic enough!

This is a transfer of a miraculously preserved print from the British Film Institute of a horror classic that was thought lost forever. Besides the thrill of watching a 1933 film that looks like a shiny new penny (not to mention the wonderfully sweetened sound by Sonic Solutions), many things about this production make it a "thorougly modern Mummy", if you'll pardon the expression.

The attractiveness of the young principals: The girl (Dorothy Hyson) is absolutely pretty and shapely as it should be, if a little stagey in her delivery, and the boy (Anthony Bushell) is a convincing stalwart, if a little stiff. But when it comes to taking stage directions and giving their all to an action scene, they're perfect. (Compare to David Manners and Fay Wray.) The assault scene in the bedroom and the final fist fight in the tomb are absolutely exemplary while remaining graceful, convincing and extremely well choreographed.

The perfection of Karloff: He speaks his lines like the consummate actor that he is then veers into silent film pantomime mode - with great conviction - in the rest of the film. What a graceful man! [His character's name, Morlant, means "mort lente" - slow death - in French, by the way.]

The direction: British director T. Hayes Hunter may be almost unknown nowadays but his long experience of the silents has certainly served him well. This is one film where the return to a perpetually moving camera is evident after the initial staginess of the first talkies. Not a single frame is static or wasted. Everything is economical, effective and to the point. Some inserts (like the two puzzling close-ups of Anubis during Karloff's death scene) are absolutely witty in retrospect. Scene for scene, I daresay this film compares favourably to James Whale's "Old Dark House" (1932), even if Whale's film was an influence and they both followed "The Cat and the Canary" (1927) and all of them were adapting a hoary stage tradition of supernatural mysteries with a "perfectly rational" explanation.

The photography, lighting and art direction by two megastars of the German expressionist era (Günther Krampf and Alfred Junge): I've never seen "London in the fog" scenes quite so effective and neither have you. And the interior decor will positively astound you!

The script: Almost every line is an Oscar opening montage moment and quotable for days. (My favourite line: Kathleen Harrison's speech at the well that starts with the very modern "I don't think so!" and ends with "And after that to Australia!".) The adaptation (from a stage play) is stupendous. I can't imagine a stage play having all those different actions going on at the same time or a tomb set on fire and then exploding on the stage for that matter. Compare to the sagging middle of "Dracula" (1931), if you will. The farcical interplay between the wonderful comedienne Kathleen Harrison (Kaney) and the unflappable straight man Harold Huth (Aga Ben Dragore) is much more than window-dessing. It goes through every phase of infatuation, coyness, seduction, duplicity, raunchy double-entendre, sexual exploitation, rejection and revenge, all the while serving a story that actually makes sense. Some of Harrison's double takes are outrageously funny. This film was meant to compete with the Universal horrors and American films in general. I think it succeeds admirably and actually shows the Yanks how it should be done. It even gives Hitchcock a run for his money. The main reason for this being the film's secret weapon, namely...

The music score: By Louis Levy and Leighton Lucas, who both eventually wrote film music for Hitchcock. Leighton Lucas has the added distinction of having weaved many of Jules Massenet's melodies and orchestral pieces into the popular British ballet "Manon" (1974). Massenet being my favourite composer and since I've always maintained in polite society - after a few drinks, anyway - that all fim music is derived from his operas' incidental music, this is a big deal for my ego. More to the point, the use of music in this film shows other composers how it should be done. This was the same year as Max Steiner's courageous and original "King Kong" score and two years before Franz Waxman's epochal score for "The Bride of Frankenstein" and many years before Hans J. Salter came to work for Universal in the forties.

I also have to mention Cedric Hardwicke doing a perfectly self-possessed impression of Mr. Rat from "The Wind and the Willows", Ralph Richardson going above and beyond the call of duty, Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Pretorius from "The Bride of Frankenstein" and of "Have a po-tah-to" fame in "The Old Dark House") outdoing himself in sheer eccentricity and the two "Arabs" giving performances that would be imitated for decades to come (by Akim Tamiroff, among others). Did I forget anyone? The doctor (George Relph) would eventually turn up as Tiberius Caesar in "Ben-Hur" (1958) [as Thesiger, come to think of it, would turn up as the very same character in "The Robe" (1953)] and even the uncredited delivery boy speaks his two lines ("Carrier!" and "I'll oblige you, Guv'nor, I was going straight back as it was.") with great aplomb! And the landlady who welcomes the visiting Arab with: "We don't want no lino nor nothing!" Priceless!

Long story short: This is a DVD with great repeat value and, as far as I'm concerned, an immortal instant - if reborn - classic!"
brad baker | ATHERTON, CALIFORNIA United States | 11/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"After "Frankenstein", Boris Karloff was lured back to his native Britain to star in "The Ghoul" in 1933.Very few Karloff fans own this forgotten gem, and almost no one has ever seen it. History reported the print had turned to dust, when one final nitrate was found in a janitor's closet in 1968. Only two rare video releases of "The Ghoul" have ever been available, and this is the better print. The picture quality is uneven, and sometimes the sound drops out, but anyone who loves the Karloff canon will want to own this "Lost Film". Karloff plays a demented Egyptologist who defends his sacred Scarab gem with a curse to return from the dead. The story builds to a eerie, fiery climax that you will want to watch again and again. Lovers of film lore get a peek at Ernest Theisiger, the famous Sir Ralph Richardson{as a vicar}, and perhaps the earliest film entrance of Sir Cedric Hardwicke(very nasty}. Pick this one up before it once again becomes a "Lost Film"...."
A rarely seen Karloff gem
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Looking at the artwork on the case, you might think this was a newer film, say, one made in the last 20 years, but that is not so. This movie was actually made in the early 30's, and is an excellent companion to the Universal horror movies of the time.Boris Karloff stars as a professor/Egyptologist who is soon to pass into the great beyond. Through his studies, he believes he's found the key to immortality, in a ancient gem called The Eternal Light. Now, there is a little confusion on my part as to what possesion of this gem is supposed to do, if it makes one immortal or opens a passage to a wonderous paradise in the afterlife, but the gem in question is highly sought after due to its' monetary and supernatural value.Karloff's character passes on, and guess what? The gem is stolen! This prompts Karloff's corpse to come back to life and seek out the gem. Things get a tad confusing, as Karloff's heirs get involved, along with a butler, an unscrupulous accountant, a couple of Egyptians, a priest, and so on. If you follow closely, you should be able to keep things straight, but if your attention wanders, you will miss something. Karloff's make up was kept minimal, which I thought worked really well, and the quality of the production seemed fairly high, even though I am sure the actual production budget was pretty modest. A great example of making the most of what you have. The atmosphere was thoroughly creepy, and even the comic relief, who I found annoying at first, sort of grew on me. But, in the end, see this movie for Karloff, as he's in his prime. He may not have a lot of dialogue, but his actions and facial expressions speak louder than words. I would say this movie is a combonation of The Mummy and The Old Dark House.There are no extras, but the print and sound are both excellent, and, from reading other reviews on the rarity of this movie, sounds like this excellent print has been on many peoples wishlist for a long time. I give a lot of credit to MGM, not only for releasing movies from their catalog in a timely manner, but also keeping an eye towards the quailty of the prints of the films they put on DVD."