Spook Busters (1946)

Article #1696 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-5-2005
Posting Date: 4-4-2006
Directed by William Beaudine
Featuring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Douglass Dumbrille

The Bowery Boys go into the pest extermination business, and are hired to clear out a haunted house.

When I mentioned the title of this movie to my wife, she guessed without looking that it was going to be a Bowery Boys movie. Then, out of curiosity, I looked it up in Leonard Maltin’s classic movie guide, and found it cradled right next to the entries SPOOK CHASERS (another Bowery Boys movie along the same lines) and SPOOKS RUN WILD (the East Side Kids (for all practical reasons an earlier version of the Bowery Boys). If you throw in GHOST CHASERS, THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS and GHOSTS ON THE LOOSE, you get the definite impression that these guys just never got their fill of movies about haunted mansions and old dark houses. Usually, most comedy groups visited this territory only once or twice.

Nevertheless, this is a good one. It’s one of the earlier Bowery Boys movies, which means a) that Huntz Hall hasn’t developed the bad habit of incessant mugging that plagues the later episodes, and b) the Bowery Boys that are not Huntz or Leo Gorcey are given comic moments as well. Gorcey is still churning out the malaprops, of course, and I still love those. The narration that ties the movie together contributes to the fun, and the climactic fight in slow motion is pretty clever indeed. As I continue to watch the Bowery Boys, I’ve come to understand that I like them much better this way then when they were the East Side Kids; at least by deciding to clearly go the comedy route, their movies ended up being much more focused. Besides, I have a great deal of affection for Leo’s father Bernard in the continuing role of Louis Dumbrowski. The movie also features Charles Middleton and Maurice Cass, who played Professor Newton in the Rocky Jones movies.


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