The Mad Ghoul Universal 1943
Universal Home Video, VHS only
Out of Print
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Starring George Zucco, David Bruce, Turhan Bey, Evelyn Ankers,
Robert Armstrong, Milburn Stone, Charles McGraw

Before there were eBay and, there were used bookstores. Most of them were housed in old buildings full of dust, with proprietors who were even dustier. When we were kids, our Saturdays were spent mulling around in these memory laden emporiums, searching for horror, science fiction and fantasy paperbacks and hard cover tomes. If we were lucky, there might be a stack of monster mags, horror comics, and pulps for our weekend reading. Now, these weren't the bookstores that specialized in comics and monster magazines, but the stores that catered to older, more off-beat customers. The whole point of checking out these stores was that sometimes you could get colossal bargains.

In those days my main focus was monster mags and Screen Thrills Illustrated, but if there were horror comics that were reasonably priced I'd pick up a few of them, depending upon the story lines. Classic E.C. Comics were more expensive, with better stories and superior art work. I ended up with cheaper versions. The point is that The Mad Ghoul is straight out of the classic E.C. Comics mold, complete with Egyptian lore, addiction to heart fluids from freshly deceased corpses, star crossed lovers, and a mixed-up med student who's the focal point of the picture.

George Zucco turns in one of his greatest B-movie performances, elevating this show at time to A level entertainment. Robert (Carl Denham) Armstrong as the persistent reporter keeps the pace lively. When so many films of this type drag on and plunder, the activities of the antagonists and the protagonist ensure that this show doesn't bore. Turhan Bey and Evelyn Ankers are perfectly paired as the romantic couple who are followed on their concert tour by the Ghoul, whose dastardly mutilation of the recently departed steals newspaper headlines from their cultural endeavors. David Bruce is well case as the pining pre-Med student, who wrestles with his dual personalities and in the end, succumbs to his darker side.

George Zucco turns in one of his most chilling characterizations at the film's climax, with supportive roles going to Milburn Stone (of Gunsmoke fame), and a young Charlie McGraw whose voice has yet to attain the familiar gravelly tones with which movie goers became well familiar during his tenure with R.K.O. Studios.

The Mad Ghoul has often been derided by film historians, but if the viewer puts aside these writers' intellectual manifestations and consumes this flick with comic book fun in mind, it is sure to please. This could easily have been part of Universal's highly successful Inner Sanctum series due to story content.

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