The Ghoul on Blu-ray

Sunday, 19 April 2015 23:00 Written by 

The Ghoul - out now on Blu-rayBoris Karloff ("Frankenstein", "The Mummy") stars as Professor Henry Morlant, a famous Egyptologist who is near death but planning to become immortal thanks to a magical gem known as The Eternal Light. Before he dies, Morlant threatens to go on an undead killing spree if anyone defies his burial wishes. Needless to say, someone interferes and the professor rises from his tomb to wreak his revenge. Will they never learn?

The film apparently has the honour of being the first British feature to be labelled 'horrific', in addition to being the first British horror with sound. It was also Ralph Richardson's first movie. Richardson ("Doctor Zhivago", "Time Bandits") plays Hartley, a prying parson. Other cast members include Cedric Hardwicke ("Rope") as the devious family solicitor, and Ernest Thesiger ("The Robe") as Morlant's cantankerous Scottish servant.

Two heirs to Morlant's estate (Dorothy Hyson - "Spare a Copper" and Anthony Bushell - "A Night to Remember") are drawn to the deceased's mansion, along with a couple of Arab guardians of the jewel who seek to recover it at any cost. The star turn for me comes from Kathleen Harrison (1951's "Scrooge") as Hyson's friend Kaney, a plucky character with all the best comedy lines.

The film is not very creepy by today's standards but it has some tremendous, solid-looking sets (especially the tomb and the mansion interior), some effective atmospherics (lighting and smog), and a musical score that fits the bill perfectly.

Karloff sports some odd facial make-up even before he emerges from his sarcophagus, but once he does it helps to establish his supernatural credentials, combined with unearthly, lurching movement and immense eyebrows that focus his stare.

As Britain's response to the Universal monster movies that became so well known, "The Ghoul" is a splendid entry in the horror vault, and this remastered re-release proves there is plenty of life left in it.

Special features include:

  • Commentary track by horror experts Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
  • Two image galleries
  • Commemorative booklet by Stephen Jones
  • Instant play facility

The commentary is very animated and crammed with interesting facts and occasional speculation, such as who the writers really were and about Karloff's career. The Blu-ray has a stunningly solid, 1.33:1 aspect picture with no noise and a good amount of detail, and the sound track is also very clear.

“The Ghoul" (1933) is out now on Blu-ray, courtesy of Network. The main feature has a running time of 81 minutes approx, carries a 'PG' certificate and retails for £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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