NIGHT OF THE GHOULS

(1959) (Released 1983)
With Criswell, Kenne Duncan, Duke Moore, Tor Johnson, Valda Hansen, John Carpenter, Paul Marco
Produced, written and directed by Ed Wood, Jr.
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

      Brilliant as he was, Orson Welles only made one CITIZEN KANE.  Untalented as he was, Ed Wood only made one PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

     Made the same year as PLAN 9, NIGHT OF THE GHOULS (a sequel to Wood's pre-PLAN 9 "thriller", BRIDE OF THE MONSTER) sat in a film lab for years after Wood found himself without sufficient funds to pay the bill.  In the midst of the Ed Wood revival era of the 1980s, GHOULS was finally rescued and released for public consumption.  Some Ed Wood aficionados may say that over the two decades, the film aged like fine wine.  More like moldy cheese, I'd say.

     Oh, there's fun to be had here and there. As in PLAN 9, Criswell appears as the narrator, this time from inside a coffin and looking like he had a few too many mimosas the night before.  The film also contains occasional snatches of bizarre dialogue that rival anything in PLAN 9 ("Say, I wonder if this could be a fancy type of embalming job... oh, well, back to work...") and one hilarious scene where a cop shoots the disfigured hulk Lobo (Tor Johnson... who else?) three times, Johnson brains the cop and drags him away, and everybody in the room reacts as calmly as if the maid had just walked in to empty the ashtrays.  A seance sequence is also gloriously nuts and will have you pondering that age-old age-old philosophical question "What is with that black guy with the pith helmet licking his own teeth?"

     But it's not enough.  NIGHT OF THE GHOULS is bad but never so bad it's good.  It is just really, really, really bad.  The part of Dr. Acula (ooh, say it fast!), with his turban and goofball dialogue, seems to have been written with Lugosi in mind, but if so, Bela took the wise course of passing away before Wood could talk him into it.  Then Wood ran out of money and that should have been that.  We could have told ourselves forever that NIGHT OF THE GHOULS was "the lost Ed Wood masterpiece".  But then somebody had to spoil it all by paying the damn lab bill. 1 - JB

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