Night of the Ghouls
Reviewed by Nicholas D'Amico
Rating: 1.5 Beans
ight of the Ghouls (aka Revenge of the Dead; 1959) is a sequel to BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (and to a lesser extent, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE) that sat unreleased for 23 years because because the director, Edward D. Wood Jr., couldn't pay the lab bill. Wade Williams came to the rescue and it was released on tape by Rhino. Like we should be grateful.
Cast: Kenne Duncan (Dr. Acula); Duke Moore (Lt. Daniel Bradford); Valda Hansen (The White Ghost); Tor Johnson (Lobo); John Carpenter (Capt. Robbins); Paul Marco (Kelton); Don Nagel (Sgt. Crandall); Jeannie Stevens (The Black Ghost/Mannikin); Bud Osborne (Mr. Darmoor); Harvey B. Dunne (Henry); Thomas R. Mason (Wingate Foster's Ghost); Marcelle Hemphill (Mrs. Wingate Yates Foster); Clay Stone (Young Man); Magaret Mason (Martha); Henry Bederski (Drunk); James La Maida (Hall); Tony Cardoza (Tony); John Gautieri (Boy); Karen Hairsten (Girl); Karl Johnson, Leonard Barnes, Frank Barbarick, Francis Misitano, David De Mering (The Dead Men); Criswell (Himself).
Once you get past the typically lame Elvira opening, The film starts with the title "Wade Williams Presents: Criswell" and does a linear dissolve to the man himself, lying in a coffin. Just when things are looking up, he sits up and begins to speak: "I am Criswell. For many years, I have told the almost unbelieveable - related the unreal - and showed it to more than fact. Now I tell a tale of the threshold people - so astounding that some of you may faint! This is s story of those in the twilight time - Once human - Now monsters - in the world between the living and the dead. Monsters to be pitied - Monsters to be despised..." Cut to the same clap of thunder that opened PLAN 9 and we go to the credits, which show us that this movie had no less than 6 associate producers and that it was written, produced, and directed by Edward D. Wood Jr., so brace yourself! Here it comes...
As Criswell intones, "For our talk, I must take you to your town - any town - a Police Station. Activity of the day or night..." as the screen shows
a wall that reads COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - SHERIFF - EAST LOS ANGELES STATION. Inside, the desk sargent sits at... where else? as Criswell continues: "...Activity - some of which the Police are willing to admit..." A picture of Ed Wood hangs on the wall. As a punk gives the cops some trouble, Sgt. Krendall walks in with an old couple. The woman, who's apparently hysterical, keeps her face in her handkerchief and remains silent until her cue ("Oh, it was a nightmare of horror!"), when she starts weeping hysterically: "OH, it was HORRIBLE!...OH, that HORrible FACE! And those LONG FINgers!... Oh. I'll never forget it the longest day that I live..."
"This is how it began..." narrates Criswell. "...An incident that the police were fearful to admit..." Just why they're fearful to admit it is a mystery, even after we see what happened to the two old people.
Criswell then goes off on a tangent involving Juvenile Delinquency and drunk driving (which includes a slap fight Wood has with Conrad Brooks that was shot for an uncompleted film called ROCK 'N' ROLL HELL and later pops up in THE SINISTER URGE along with a couple of shots of a police car screaming down the road and a few other scenes from a 1957 pilot film called THE FINAL CURTAIN). We then cut to a scene (shot in sort-of fast motion) of two kids making out in a car. The boy gets a little too rough, and after a half-hearted struggle, the girl slaps him and scampers off into the woods. Crying, she dashes down a path and is pursued by the Black Ghost, a not bad-looking woman in a shroud. After she trips over nothing and twists her shin (or is it her ankle? She can't seem to decide), the Black Ghost envelops her and kills her. The boy, hearing her scream, finds her dead and then the Black Ghost kills him. The dialogue here is obviously overdubbed, so I can't believe Wood couldn't find a better scream for the guy, which is more like a strangled whine. Criswell tells us a maniac was blamed for the killings.
Back at the police station, a drunk staggers in, looks around, and then leaves as the cops discuss things of more import, namely the old couple that were in earlier. Inspector Robbins (who seems to be pissed off all the time) then steps out of his office and calls for Kelton. Kelton comes running (he's one of those characters that are meant to be endearing bumblers, but instead come off as such assholes that you pray they get killed quickly), and the following exchange takes place:
KELTON (running up):
Uh, yes, sir?
Uh, I got ahold of him, Inspector Robbins, but uh, he isn't here.
I'm not blind! I can see he's not here! But when he does get here, send him in here!
Shades of PLAN 9.
Bradford then walks in dressed in a tux and top hat (probably because the scenes of him ascending the "cold, clammy" staircase in the tux were shot for THE FINAL CURTAIN and they had to match the footage). He enters Robbins' office and the Inspector tells him that he must cancel his opera plans because he has to handle a case that came in that night.
It seems that the two old folks we met earlier were taking a shortcut by Willows Lake on the way to visit the guy's sick sister when they get stuck in the mud by the old Mad Scientist's house. (You can tell they're simple folk because the old guy says "Galdarn it" a lot.) As the film dissolves to them driving along, Robbins and Bradford offer some more exposition explaining the history of the house:
Oh, you mean that road that goes by that old house I investigated a few years ago. The one that was destroyed by lightning.
That's right. You know that someone rebuilt it, didn't you?
No, I didn't.
Well, somebody did.
As they roll along, we see The White Ghost walk out of the house and start to wander in the woods. They nearly go off the road and the car stalls out. While the old guy tries to start the car, his wife spots the White Ghost doing something weird with her hands, so of course the two of them become terrified and make tracks for the police station. Because of this report, Bradford gets assigned to the case.
The thing that really bugs me about this is that two kids get torn apart in approximately the same place, and the cops do nothing. But let a couple of old people get spooked, and a full-scale investigation ensues.
Bradford reluctantly accepts the assignment and is burdened with Kelton as his back-up. Bradford arrives first and starts to search the grounds, watched by the Black Ghost. He walks up to the house and just walks in, to be discovered by Dr. Acula, a medium who wears a turban. After some really insipid dialogue, Dr. Acula takes Bradford down to the seance room.
Back at the police station, we get some unfunny comic relief with Kelton and Robbins concerning the former being unable to get a car, and then get back to the Willows place as the Dr. leads Bradford to the basement. Outside, the White Ghost sees the Black Ghost, for some reason screams, and hightails it back to the house.
Inside, we get a general rundown of what goes on there. Dr. Acula is a medium that raises the spirits of the dead for a bunch of saps that pay him to do it. It's all a con, of course, and Bradford tumbles to that fact quickly. We then find out that Lobo (from BRIDE OF THE MONSTER) wasn't killed in the fire, but merely fell asleep in a bowl of oatmeal (judging from his makeup).
Kelton pulls up next to Bradford's car, and hearing a few groans and squeals, pulls his gun out and starts blasting away randomly after spotting both the White and the Black ghosts, who are walking in the opposite direction. He calls in to the station demanding backup, and the cops at the station relunctantly agree.
Back at the Willows house, Dr. Acula is starting a seance to raise the spirit of Wingate Foster for his wife, Mrs Wingate Yates Foster. A slide trombone, an out-of-tune ukelele, a slide whistle accompianied by someone in a white sheet, and a floating trumpet are then heard and seen. Two skeletons with wigs are also sitting at the seance table as the head of a black guy with what looks like a Civil Defense helmet on his head starts saying "Mondo, mondo, mondo" while licking his chops and telling those gathered around that Dr. Acula is about to raise the spirit of this bag's husband. The old fart sits up in his coffin and tells her to marry the young guy she's with and to let him handle all her finances, which she of course agrees to immediately. The whole thing is a plan to rip off all this woman's money; her boyfriend is in on it.
During the seance, Bradford slips away and starts searching the house. He finds a staircase and climbs it, finding a room filled with lighting equipment and props. He wonders (in voice-over) what a theatre group would do with them and then continues on.
At the station, Robbins comes back in and gets the ten messages Kelton has left for him. "I wonder what that fool is doing now", he says, and we dissolve to the fool as he freaks out listening to a coyote howl. While this idiocy is going on, Robbins and Crandall talk about how much they hate Kelton. The two of them then decide to take a trip to the house.
Bradford is checking out one of the mannikins close up and notices it seems to be breathing. "Well, I understand undertakers have a way of doing that," he reasons, and, as he's walking out, the manninkin he just examines start to move and beckon him. He dashes out the door and runs straight into Lobo and Dr. Acula. They grab him and find out he's a cop, then lock him in the mortuary room.
Outside, Kelton checks his headlights.
Hearing noises, Acula sends Lobo to investigate and gets back to his seance. Something that looks like a plastic mushroom starts floating around and the White Ghost, who's a crony of Acula, passes through the room searching for someone named Jeffrey. Kelton then busts in and arrests everyone in the room. He demands to know where Bradford is and Lobo comes in after him. Kelton shoots Lobo a few times and then Lobo bitch slaps Kelton. As he drags him from the room, the morons there for the seance just continue sitting around the table as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
Bradford manages to bust out of the room he's being held prisoner in and sees Lobo carrying Kelton into another room down the hall. After Lobo leaves, he goes in and - JOY! - he finds Kelton in a casket!
Back downstairs, once the seance is over, one of the customers voices his concerns about the Kelton/Lobo incident to Dr. Acula, who then questions the man's faith. He protests, saying:
It's just that I was a bit unnerved, that policeman shooting and all.
Well, the man was undoubtedly mad...
It must have been that way...
The idiot then hands Acula a check for 10,000 dollars!
Upstairs, it turns out that Kelton (unfortunately) wasn't killed after all. While he and Bradford share a liesurely cigarette, the dick bemoans his status on the police force and Bradford beats a hasty retreat.
In the dressing room, Acula and the White Ghost make plans to ditch Lobo and take it on the lam with the money they have. Kelton and Bradford find their way back to the seance room and, while looking for a way out, Kelton sees his chapeau and just about yells, "THERE'S MY HAT!" Lobo hears this and enters the room and Bradford and Kelton shoot him to death.
Hearing this, Acula and White send the guy playing Wingate Yates out to investigate while the latter two escape. Wingate runs right into the cops, and when he fires at them, they cut him down in a fusillade of bullets.
While this is going on, White and Acula try to escape through the mortuary room and run into a bunch of dead guys Acula really did raise. White ducks out the door and the dead guys jump Acula, seal him in a coffin, and bury him alive. Outside, the White Ghost runs into the Black Ghost, who tells her, "It is time... for you to join the others...in the grave...", so she just does, no questions asked.
The cops, meanwhile, find Acula dead in the coffin with a bunch of skeletons on the floor. They sit around the casket and offer half assed questions and explainations of what really happened.
Criswell closes the film in his coffin by saying, " And now, we return to our graves... the old - and the new - and you may join us soon." Which would be preferable to seeing this movie again.
CRISWELL (Jerrond Charles Criswell King) was a fake psychic who was once a radio personality. He had a few minutes to fill one night and so, just for something to say, he predicted snow or something, and it came true. People suddenly started asking him for predictions, so he became a TV psychic. He never claimed to be a genuine psychic, and some of his predictions would bear this out: he predicted WWIII would start in 1975, the Supreme Court would only have female Justices by 1976, and that all the women of St. Louis, Missouri, would turn bald in 1983. As you can tell by his performances in this film, PLAN 9, and ORGY OF THE DEAD, he acted as good as he predicted.
KENNE DUNCAN was a heavy in westerns for many years and also appeared in Ed Wood's THE SINISTER URGE as Lt. Matt Carson. He was known around Hollywood as "Horsecock" Duncan because he was extremely well endowed.
DUKE MOORE was a drinking buddy of Ed Wood's who appeared in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, THE SINISTER URGE, NIGHT OF THE GOULS, and the pilot film THE FINAL CURTAIN.
VALDA HANSEN appeared in NIGHT OF THE GHOULS, THE FINAL CURTAIN, also THE GREAT NORTHFIELD MINNESOTA RAID, SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIP OFF, BIKINI BANDITS, and other films. She was quite a dish, appearing in the above film at 16 years of age (according to her). She's interviewed in FLYING SAUCERS OVER HOLLYWOOD: THE PLAN 9 COMPANION. She's also nuttier than a fruitcake.
TOR JOHNSON was a professional wrestler known as "The Swedish Angel" appeared in three Ed Wood films: BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, NIGHT OF THE GHOULS, and PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. He had a limited command of English, and as far as I know, had only one line of dialogue in a movie other than PLAN 9: "Time for go to bed" in THE UNEARTHLY.
PAUL MARCO played "Kelton The Cop" in three movies for Ed Wood: PLAN 9, NIGHT OF THE GOULS, and BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. He currently is the president and (I imagine) sole member of the Paul Marco fan club, which sells, among other things, I LOVE KELTON THE COP bumper stickers. Boy, would I love to get one of those.
Nobody else in the cast is worth talking about.
This film is available on video from Rhino Home Video.
Sources: "Nightmare of Ecstasy - The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr." by Rudolph Grey (Feral House), "Son of the Golden Turkey Awards" by Harry & Michael Medved (Villard Books), and last but not least, "The Psychotronic Video Guide" by Michael Weldon (st. Martin's Griffin)
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