Night of the Ghouls / Revenge of the Dead (1959)

Night of the Ghouls / Revenge of the Dead (1959)

“Monsters! Space people! Mad doctors! They didn’t teach me about such things in the police academy!”

A pair of detectives (Duke Moore and Paul Marco) are sent to investigate a suspicious spiritualist named Dr. Acula (Kenne Duncan), who works in cahoots with a fake ghost (Valda Hansen) to convince wealthy clients that they are in communication with departed loved ones.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Con-Artists
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Ed Wood Films
  • Horror
  • Zombies

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary accurately notes that while Ed Wood’s “follow-up to Plan 9 From Outer Space features god-awful acting, direction, music, dialogue, costumes, sets, props, lighting, pacing, and camera work”, this likely “won’t be enough to satisfy hardcore Wood fanatics” (or all purpose bad-movie lovers for that matter) “who have the right to expect much worse”. Often afforded the dubious label of being Wood’s most competent film (for better or for worse), Night of the Ghouls actually possesses an interesting history, not mentioned in Peary’s book: Wood couldn’t afford the lab fees to print the film, so it wasn’t viewed until years later (in 1983), when an aficionado named Wade Williams paid the overdue lab fees and released the film, much to the delight of Wood’s growing cult of fans. At any rate, as Peary notes, the film is full of “typically ludicrous Wood touches”, such as the infamously giggle-worthy scene when one of the detectives “sneaks through a dark house (the film’s prime set) [and] both [the film’s narrator] Criswell and our hero, through voiceovers, discuss in great detail the railing his hand happens to touch” — which is “completely irrelevant to the story”. Unfortunately, however, as Peary notes, “the picture hasn’t the inspired madness of Wood’s classics”, and really isn’t must-see except for his die-hardest fans.

Note: I disagree with Peary that “Jennie Stevens as the Black Ghost can’t hold a candle to Plan 9‘s Vampira”. While Vampira may have been more strikingly dramatic (and unearthly), Stevens is both gorgeous and haunting in her own way. (Besides, it’s not like these “roles” were really meant to offer anything more than ghoulish eye-candy anyway!).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A few humorously campy moments

Must See?
No; this one is only for Ed Wood completists.


One thought on “Night of the Ghouls / Revenge of the Dead (1959)

  1. Not a must. Mostly…nice use of dry ice.

    Hadn’t seen this one. Even by Wood standards, this is low.

    On the tentative plus side: the extended seance sequence midway is kind of fun (in typical Wood style); Kenne Duncan is mildly impressive in the lead role of – ahem – Dr. Acula; Criswell’s reasonably effective intro influenced the opening of Burton’s ‘Ed Wood’; and, overall, the film at least looks alright (photographed reasonably well, for what it is).

    But, as wonderfully bad film, it’s simply not bad enough.

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