Mad Ghoul, The (1943)

Mad Ghoul, The (1943)

“What am I? Alive or dead? Man or beast? What have you done to me?”

A mad doctor (George Zucco) turns his student (David Bruce) into a zombie, forcing him to excavate hearts from fresh corpses to fuel his own temporary antidote.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Horror
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Zombies

This above-average B-level Universal horror flick is sure to appeal to fans of the genre. At just over an hour in length, the storyline moves quickly while offering plenty of melodrama: a mad doctor (Zucco) — eager to learn whether his preliminary success using a toxic chemical to turn monkeys into zombie-like creatures:

… will work on humans — experiments on his own naive assistant (Bruce):

hoping to win Bruce’s girlfriend (Evelyn Ankers as a concert singer) for himself:

— only to find Ankers has fallen for her accompanist (turgid Turhan Bey), who must also be gotten rid of.

Zucco is quietly effective as the calculating doctor, while Bruce — whose zombie make-up is creepy without overpowering:

— eventually wins our sympathy as the unwitting Jekyll-and-Hyde who loses both his humanity and his girl.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine performances by George Zucco and David Bruce as “partners in crime”
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, but it’s worth watching, and fans of Universal horror flicks should definitely seek it out.


One thought on “Mad Ghoul, The (1943)

  1. A once-must.

    Hadn’t seen this one, and feel I should go to bat for it. I didn’t think so at first; even if it seemed an interesting-enough riff on the ghoul motif.

    But my feeling began to change as things progressed – which means I got swept away; and being swept up and away, to me, tends to indicate there’s enough to merit a viewing. ‘TMG’ is actually more than an interesting riff; it’s unique. It becomes rather complicated in a short time, yet not overly so. And the complication ultimately becomes very simple.

    It’s one of those it’s best not to say too much about. Though its pleasures are few, they’re potent. (And the assessment given doesn’t really spoil it.) There’s a particularly unexpected turn near the end. And generally a welcome intelligence throughout.

    The players are fine: not too much, not too little from anyone. Bey, to me, is more exotic than turgid (and a bit of a dish, at least here). One small caveat: as a concert singer, Ankers’ song selections are a bit drippy – but not that intrusive.

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