It was pretty inevitable
that eventually we must look in the direction of Ed Wood, Jr. He is
one of the stellar luminaries of the world of Bad Movies. It is possible
that he owes his current fame to The Golden Turkey Awards, in
which he was voted the Worst Director of All Time and Plan 9 was
selected as Worst Movie. Neither is really true - both are far too entertaining
for those categories - but that Eddy was woefully inept and possessed
a vision that far outstripped his abilities is beyond argument. To sum
up - there are directors just as bad, if not worse, than Eddy - but
they haven't had movies made about them yet.
For a while there, Night
of the Ghouls was the Great Lost Ed Wood Movie... Ed couldn't get
up the cash to pay the lab for the developed film, so they proceeded
to hold on to it for 26 years, when its bail was paid and it
received a video release. Theoretically a sequel to Bride of the
Monster, it typically eschews much of the first movie except for
a couple of characters and continuous references to "that mad scientist
and his monsters, that were destroyed by lightning".
Well, somebody rebuilt
"that house on Willow Lake", and now people are getting murdered
thereabouts by the Black Ghost, a woman wearing, yes, black. Who might
she be? Why is she doing this? Who knows? Maybe this was to be addressed
in the next movie.
No, let us start at the beginning.
With Criswell arising from his coffin, promising to tell us "a
tale of the threshold people, so astounding some of you may faint!"
A tale filled with "monsters to be pitied, monsters to be despised."
We then see a sign for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, as Criswell
advises us this is "Your town...any town!" Inside the paneled
office, there is one lone picture on the wall... perhaps a wanted poster.
It is, of course, a picture of Ed Wood. An elderly couple (the man is
Harvey B. Dunn, an inspector in Bride, and inexplicably busted
to civilian here), who wail "Oh, it was a nightmare of horror!"
Seems they saw a ghost out by THAT house. But we know that it was a
different ghost, a WHITE ghost (Valda Hansen).
Enter Lt. Bradford ("Duke"
Moore) a tuxedo-wearing police detective who magically handled the "mad
doctor" case in the last movie ('magically' because we've never
seen him before). He heads out to the house, followed by none other
than Kelton (Paul Marco), the unfunniest comic relief cop in the universe.
(Some refer to this movie, Plan 9 and Bride as the Kelton
Trilogy. Yeah. Whatever.) Bradford finds that a turban-wearing medium
named Dr.Acula (*wheeze*) (played by Kenne "Horsecock"
Duncan) has taken up residence, and is working a fake seance racket
to bilk the bereaved of their money. The White Ghost is an assistant
whose job is to frighten off the unwary.
Discovering that Bradford is a cop,
Acula sics none other than Lobo (Tor Johnson) on him. Lobo has somehow
survived the fire at the end of Bride, though he is badly scarred.
After Kelton somehow scrounges up the cajones to also bust in,
Acula decides to split... a little too late, as it turns out he was
a real medium after all and the dead have returned to take him with
them... supposedly so they can finally get some damn sleep. Tor gets
shot to pieces by the cops, and the White Ghost blunders into the waiting
arms of the Black Ghost.
All in all, for an Ed
Wood movie, this isn't bad.... it just isn't good, either. Wood's
trademark mind- bendingly convoluted sentences are almost entirely absent,
replaced by merely tedious and useless dialogue. Were it not for some
truly lame acting in the minor roles, this movie could have been almost
respectable. God help me for saying this, but Ed actually manages a
couple of creepy moments: once when Bradford thinks he's examining a
wax dummy which then smiles at him, and the moment when Acula
awakes just as the dead are closing the coffin on him....
Ah, but two moments do
not a classic make, and Ghouls remains pretty dreadful throughout
- it's not up - or down - to Woods usual laughable standards, so it
remains somewhat boring throughout. The seance, though, is all you could
ask for: a flying trumpet, somebody walking through in a sheet and blowing
a slide whistle, and the Spirit Guide, Mambo (or Mumbo), represented
by the lit-from- below face of a black man, mugging madly out-of-sync
with Mambo's voice. Ooooh. Scary.
For the full entertaining effect
of the experience that is Ed Wood, one should seek out the classics,
like Plan 9, Bride of the Monster, Glen or Glenda, or even Orgy
of the Dead. Night of the Ghouls, like some others ....Necromania
fairly pounces to mind... is recommended to Wood completists
only, or Kelton fans.
Is there such a thing?
Now that's scary.