Night of the Ghouls (1959)
Written, edited, and directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.
One must give credit where credit is due. This is one of Ed Wood's better films. Ed Wood, visionary behind such classics as Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space, wrote, directed, and edited this horror movie, but in the end he did not have the money to pay the film lab for the development costs. Entrepreneur Wade Williams paid the bill in 1983, and the film was finally made public five years after Wood's death.
The movie actually has a reasonable plot, and in the hands of a more skilled moviemaker, perhaps this would have been a good horror flick. A phony medium named Dr. Acula (get it?) has a racket going where he rolls into towns and relieves gullible rich folks of their cash in return for raising their dearly departed from the dead. Of course, it is all done with hokey gags and actors. The special effects, you see, are supposed to look that ridiculous. The thing is, though, he is doing his seances in an actual haunted house, which was also the former abode of a mad scientist that made monsters such as Lobo, played by Ed Wood veteran Tor Johnson. Performing seances in this type of setting has consequences, as we will soon see.
The police learn that there are strange things happening at the ol' mad scientist's haunted house when a wayward elderly couple drive close to the house and are scared nearly to death by a white ghost. The ghost is Sheila, Dr. Acula's girlfriend, and it is her job to scare away people so Acula can defraud rich folks in peace. Lieutenant Dan Bradford is sent to investigate along with comic relief in the form of Patrolman Kelton.
Before long, Bradford, who broke the mad scientist case and specializes in supernatural investigations, is immediately skeptical of Dr. Acula and, after a little snooping around, uncovers Acula's side show gimmicks. In the meantime, Kelton is in his patrol car getting the bejeezus scared out of him by the real ghost, The Black Ghost! He shoots at her a couple of times, but since she's already dead and incorporeal, he decides his time can be better spent cowering in the floorboards.
Zaniness ensues. Both Bradford and Kelton, who decides eventually to go inside and help Bradford, run afoul of Lobo, the fat zombie-looking monster employed as security and manual labor by Acula. There is some passionless scuffling and pushing. Our two heroes finally get away by putting a few slugs into the monster and continue looking for Acula. Acula, in the meantime, decides that the heat is too much for him, and he's packing up to go. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a better necromancer than anyone thought, for just as he is about to run out the back door, a group of undead bar his escape. The Leader of the Dead, played by Criswell, ominously tells Acula that he didn't realize his own power. Once every thirteen years, Criswell says, the dead are allowed a few hours of freedom -- blah blah blah. Acula is as bored with Criswell's bad acting as we are, and he tries to make a break for it. But he is overwhelmed by the ghouls and is dogpiled by the ghouls. Shiela sees everything and runs away.
Bradford and the cops come in to find the room empty except for the bones of all those dead guys. There's a hokey attempt made by the police to explain it all, but it does not make any sense. Criswell closes out the movie as he opened it with some cheesy dialogue spoken from his coffin.
The best part of this movie was that the videotape version I rented had Elvira introduce the movie. I'm sorry to say that I find her corny puns and semi-crude gags hilarious. Oh yeah, and it helps that she is easy on the eyes, too.
You want an actual quote from the novasoy family screening room?
Wifey gets up and leaves the room.
me (holding VCR remote): Do you want me to pause it?
wife: Please don't.
Cast, in credits order:
Kenne Duncan as Karl, alias Dr. Acula
Duke Moore as Lieutenant Dan Bradford
Tor Johnson as Lobo
Valda Hansen .... Sheila, the White Ghost
Johnny Carpenter (not that John Carpenter) as Captain Robbins
Paul Marco as Patrolman Kelton
Don Nagel as Sergeant Crandall
Bud Osborne as Mr. Darmoor
Jeannie Stevens as The Black Ghost and the Mannequin
Harvey B. Dunn as Henry
Margaret Mason as Martha
Clay Stone as Young Man
Marcelle Hemphill as Mrs. Wingate Yates Foster
Tom Mason as Wingate Foster's Ghost
James La Maida as Hall
Anthony Cardoza as Tony
John Gautieri as Boy
Karen Hairston as Girl
Karl Johnson as Dead Man
Leonard Barnes as Dead Man
Frank Barbarick as Dead Man
Francis Misitano as Dead Man
David De Mering as Dead Man
Criswell as Himself, Narrator, and Leader of the Dead
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Henry Bederski as Drunk (uncredited)
Conrad Brooks as Man In Fight (uncredited)
Mona McKinnon as Juvenile Delinquent Girl (uncredited)
Edward D. Wood Jr. as Man In Fight (uncredited)