The Mad Ghoul (1943)

THE MAD GHOUL (1943)
Article #1206 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-3-2004
Posting Date: 11-30-2004
Directed by James P. Hogan
Featuring David Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, George Zucco

A scientist experimenting with a Mayan gas turns a medical student into a zombie, but then discovers that the antidote (which requires the heart of a freshly dead person) is only temporary.

In many ways, this horror entry from Universal is fairly minor. Nonetheless, it is quite strong in some regards, and is probably the most gruesome of the horror movies from the studio after the production code was put into use. Performances all around are strong, particularly from George Zucco, who plays his mad scientist character with a great deal of subtlety, and from David Bruce, who manages to be both very likeable and very scary at the appropriate moments. Outside of the overtly horrific scenes, I love some of the side moments here where characters make discoveries; the ironic moment where Ankers reveals to Zucco that she is in reality in love with her accompanist (Turhan Bey) and then ponders as to the reasons why Bruce was unable to spot this while Zucco ponders as to why he himself also failed to do so; the reporter’s (Robert Armstrong) discovery of the pattern between the grave robbings and the music recitals, and Bruce’s own discovery that the grave robbings were taking place. The whole story unfolds with a strong sense of logic which makes watching this one particularly enjoyable. Incidentally, the moritician has the best line.

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