Night of the Ghouls (1958)

General Information

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.

Writer: Edward D. Wood Jr.

Cast: Kenne Duncan, “Duke” Moore, Tor Johnson, Valda Hansen, John Carpenter, Paul Marco, Don Nagel, Bud Osbourne, Jeannie Stevens, Harvey B. Dunn, Margaret Mason, Clay Stone, Marcelle Hemphill, Tom Mason, James La Maida, Tony Cardoza, John Gautieri, Karen Hairston, Karl Johnson, Leonard Barnes, Frank Barbarick, Francis Misitano, David De Maring, and Criswell

Composer: Gordon Zahler

Release Date: Unknown

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

 

Overview

Aided by Lobo—having survived the fire at Dr. Vornoff’s laboratory—and the White Ghost (Valda Hansen), phony spiritualist Dr. Acula (Kenne Duncan) pretendsNight of the Ghouls to contact the dead relatives of his gullible customers. Meanwhile, Detective Bradford (“Duke” Moore) and Officer Kelton (Paul Marco) investigate the nefarious activities of Dr. Acula and his assistants.

Lacking the inspired vision of Plan 9 from Outer Space and the profound ideas put forth in Bride of the Monster, Night of the Ghouls is a lackluster effort from director Ed Wood. Specifically deserving of criticism are the pacing issues, wooden performances, and tonal inconsistencies that plague this film from start to finish.

 

Pros

Night of the GhoulsWith the exception of Tor Johnson, Night of the Ghouls fails to showcase a memorable cast of characters. That being said, the Black Ghost (a zombielike female similar to Vampira) maintains a frightening presence due to her penetrating gaze, spectral appearance, and ethereal movements, which heighten the creep value of Wood’s (mostly idiotic and downright silly) narrative.

 

Cons

This offering contains all the elements of a chilling supernatural horror film: haunted houses, fake psychics, and gothic undertones. Nevertheless, an excessiveNight of the Ghouls camp factor is present in Night of the Ghouls, hampering the otherwise spooky, atmospheric premise on which this movie operates. Cringe-worthy highlights include a bedsheet ghost, a floating trumpet, and a black man making silly faces at the camera—all of which appear during a fake séance conducted by Dr. Acula. Also ridiculous are the antics of Patrolman Kelton, whose Barney Fifish tendencies have no place in a serious creature feature.

 

Analysis

(Spoilers beyond this point)

Night of the GhoulsIf nothing else, Night of the Ghouls should be commended for its poetic justice. While preying on the desperate with his medium act, for example, Dr. Acula inadvertently raises a group of belligerent people from the dead, sealing his own fate as a result.

 

Concluding Comments

The final chapter of the Kelton Trilogy, this film may appeal to Wood enthusiasts and fans of Z-grade cinema. Casual horror buffs, in contrast, would be wise to avoid Night of the Ghouls at all costs.

 

Overall Quality: 3/10

 

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