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4.3 out of 5 stars19
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 6 May 2015
If you're not into classic horror films of the thirties, this one won't change your mind. But if you are, this movie - and its current incarnation on Blu Ray - is a must-own.

The picture quality is drop-dead gorgeous. I've seen this formerly "lost" film a dozen times starting with the awful-quality but rare Czech print from the seventies, but it absolutely sparkles on Blu Ray like never before - so much so that I found it much easier to follow all the nuances of the performances from the stellar cast as well as the beautiful sets. I never thought I'd live to see this film in such superb quality.

And as for the naysayers (including the commentators on the disc) about the "hero and heroine" and the "comic relief", I think they all did a great job in this film and I love their dialog.

It makes it worth buying a Blu Ray player if you haven't yet (and pick up both "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" while you're at it - you'll think you're visiting the sets instead of watching the films).
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on 15 September 2007
This is a rather entertaining, early British Karloff film from the 1930s co-starring the likes of Ralph Richardson and Bride Of Frankensteins Ernest Thieseger. Its available on a number of DVDs but the ONLY one worth buying is this MGM american release. The quality of the print used is stunning, looks like it was printed only yesterday and if you have seen other dvds of this film you will know how often an old, scratchy print is used, this one though has to be seen to be believed...so glad I opted to upgrade my copy to use on a multi-region player.

My only gripe is the packaging, the cover is so bizarre, a no mention of Karloff on the front at all, just his name in the credits in the small print on the back and a barely recognisable photo of him...in fact if you didnt know better you could pick this up in a store (American Store!) and not realise it was an old film at all or even star Karloff, very strange considering Karloffs name is still a huge draw to us fans in the know!
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A tricky one to review in some ways, for someone like myself who loves to submerge himself in anything Noir, Expressionistic or Gothic. There's also the added impact value here of the cast list, with Karloff, Hardwicke, Thesiger and Richardson making a quadruple list of British treasures. While of course there's the not so small fact that the film was sort of lost for decades, and even when it surfaced it was the victim of some awful transfers onto home entertainment formats. So it has been like discovering a Holy Grail of Karloff movies to finally have it available with a very good transfer.

The Ghoul is very uneven and it takes the slow-burn approach to the extreme, even rendering much of the film as ponderous. A better director than T. Hayes Hunter could have made this story work, which in essence is a bit of a "Mummy" clone in all but name. It's crammed with characters musing about the plot dynamics, which is pointless because we have grasped very early on in the play what we need to know. There's some over acting, which again a better director would have reined in, while the action sequences are poorly constructed. But...

It looks absolutely terrific. In the pantheon of Old Dark House movies, this is top draw. Günther Krampf photographs it with his Germanic Expressionistic badge pinned firmly on his chest. Boasting Nosferatu and Pandora's Box as photographic assignments on his CV, Krampf blitzes The Ghoul with such atmosphere and mood setting skills, his work really deserves a far better movie. It's creaky for the wrong reasons, and it very much proves to be a product of its time, but it's an important movie in the history of British horror. These things, coupled with the photography, make it one you need to at least see and tick of your list. 5/10
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on 16 January 2003
A valuable gem known as "The Eternal Light" is stolen from a Egyptian tomb and ends up in the possession of Professor Morlant (Boris Karloff). The Professor is dying, but believes the powers of the ancient Egyptian gods will give him immortality through the gem. Before he dies, Morlant tells his servant, Laing (Ernest Thesiger) to bind the gem in his hand when he is dead. He also warns Laing that if the jewel is stolen, he will rise from the dead and seek revenge. Of course, Laing steals the gem after Morlant's death and as the professor's heirs and others arrive at the estate to search for the jewel, the Professor rises from his tomb.
"The Ghoul" was really the first major horror film produced in England and obviously tries to follow-up on his previous success in Universal's "The Mummy." A rather simple tale that moves too slow for the most part, the film does show that even when his makeup is relatively simple, there is something about the way Karloff stares and the way he walks that is more suggestive of the dead than the living. Directed in 1933 by T. Hayes Hunter, the film features future Knights of the Empire Cedric Hardwicke and Ralph Richardson. Based on the novel and play by Dr. Frank King and Leonard J. Hines, "The Ghoul" was actually remade as a comedy in 1962 called "No Place Like Homicide!" with Philip O'Flynn of the Carry On gang in the Karloff role.
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on 24 March 2011
it is a relief to be able to view this film in a proper quality version as previous ones have looked and sounded atrocious.
the picture is almost crystal clear and bearing in mind the age of the footage, this is quite an achievement. the sound is also vastly superior as i can actually hear the actors as well as the sound effects.
as for the film itself, it could have been better. it takes quite a while for boris karloff to re-appear after being temporarily written out at the beginning. even when he does come back into the film, karloff hasn't much to do, all things considered.
however, the story is a good one, the supporting cast has been well selected, with ernest thesiger and cedric hardwicke being especially effective as the villians of the piece. kathleen harrison provides some reasonably diverting comic relief. the sets that are used for the karloff household are suitably creepy and eerie.
as this was boris karloff's first british film and the first out of seven, he has chosen a good one but it's a pity that he wasn't involved considerably more.
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Boris Karloff’s first British film, 1933’s The Ghoul, has long suffered from the reputation that built up around it while it was still a lost film and the disappointment that almost inevitably led to when it was rediscovered in a poor subtitled Czech print in the 70s. Since then considerably better master material has been found – Network’s UK Region B Blu-ray looks absolutely terrific – but it’s still best looked at as an adaptation of a typical old dark house play rather than the homegrown version of the classic James Whale Universal horror films that the teaming of Karloff and Bride of Frankenstein’s Ernest Thesiger may lead you to expect. Indeed, just looking at its cast of characters tells you that in many ways it’s closer a straight-faced slight parody of the conventions of the well-made play than a real spine chiller:

- Boris Karloff, looking like the Mummy even before he rises from the grave, as the dying millionaire Egyptologist (“I put my trust in my own gods.”)
- Ernest Thesiger sporting a Scottish brogue and a club foot as his servant (“He’s set in his ways, and they are the ways of the heathen!”)
- Sir Cedric Hardwicke’s rather Dickensian crooked lawyer (“I am not a sympathetic man”)
- Anthony Bushell’s deliberately unsympathetic leading man (“No doubt you will succeed in making a painful interview intolerable”) who hates leading lady Dorothy Hyson so much you know how that’s going to end up, though curiously it does so without him showing much in the way of a softer side
- Kathleen Harrison as Dyson’s working class friend, companion and comic relief (“This is the last time I’ll ever try to make coffee in a strange house!”)
- Harold Huth’s Egyptian archaeologist out to steal Karloff’s greatest treasure only to find himself the object of Harrison’s affections (“Don’t be alarmed. We’re not quite as uncivilised as people think.” “Oh don’t say that!”)
- Ralph Richardson’s disapproving vicar (“I don’t think you people realise quite how far Morelant’s queer ideas took him.”)

Everyone is after the Eternal Light, a jewel said to grant access to the afterlife to those who truly believe and worth a fortune to those who don’t, but despite the film being widely billed as the first British horror talkie, as with most films of the era the supernatural elements are all explained away in the end, just one more reason why the film has such a low reputation among horror aficionados. But go into it with low expectations and there’s enough to like to make it worth a look. In common with many Gaumont British films of the early Thirties, it has a rather Germanic look to it – perhaps not surprising since producer Michael Balcon had often collaborated with German companies like UFA (Hitchcock even served part of his apprenticeship in Germany) and the art director was Alfred Junge (Varieté) and the cinematographer Günter Krampf (Pandora’s Box and Nosferatu). Had it been made just a year later it might even have starred some of the German players that found themselves lured onto their books and away from the uncomfortable new regime at home.

Kathleen Harrison’s comic relief is certainly better judged than Una O’Connor’s screeching in her James Whale Universal horror films, playing off against Harold Huth’s phoney Sheik act fairly effectively, though it’s debatable whether the film needed any comic relief when the pointless family feud (“As far as I can make out it was started by my late uncle as a Christmas joke”) that sets Bushell and Hyson at each other’s throats is largely played for laughs. Yet it’s not without its atmospheric moments, not least Karloff’s defiantly pagan nocturnal interment. It’s perhaps best described and enjoyed as an impressively mounted slight film: not the lost classic people hoped for, but far from the worst thing Karloff did in that era either.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 August 2013
This is without question the best print of this film available on DVD. No it's not a masterpiece and we don't see that much of Karloff either - but for film historians its good to see - in a decent version - a copy of a film thought to be damaged beyond repair for so many years. Quite atmospheric at times and with an original plot - hideous makeup - and a couple of okay performances - it's certainly worth a viewing. Just don't expect it to be of the quality of Karloff's best.
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on 25 September 2009
Made in 1933 "the ghoul" was the first british film ever to be labelled horrific.An egyptologist has bought a precious stone that,unknown to him, was stolen from an egyptian tomb.As a great lover and believer of the ways of the egyptian gods when he is buried he has the stone buried with him but when the stone is stolen from his tomb he returns as a ghoul seeking vengeance on those who are responsible.With a great cast of Karloff,Cedric Hardwicke and Ernest Thesiger(with whom Karloff starred in "bride of frankenstein" two years later) and a moody atmosphere and very dark photography this is indeed a classic of the genre.It has been restored by Network for this release and has a commentary by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones, a stills gallery(1:13) and a very nice 12 page booklet on the history and production.A very decent package.
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on 30 October 2015
Just watched the ghoul on bluray amazing transfer for its age great extra's including commentary track recommended if you like this type of early horror film.
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on 13 March 2014
The Ghoul was the first horror movie to be called that in Britian that wasn't a silent film. Because of this, I don't want to be too harsh on the movie. You see the problem here is the dull acting, very wooden. These actors were clearly brought up on silent movies and or the stage and the whole feel of the film is like this. Boris Karloff and Cedric Hardwicke were great actors and they don't suffer from this, though Karloff is barely in the film.

Another problem is that The Ghoul is so slow-, if this is the case then the dialogue has to be good and you must have good actors to carry the film, sadly The Ghoul fails on both counts. It is for the majority of its running time a drag.

True to see Karloff as the Ghoul is spectacular, but he resembels Bernie Eccelstone by that time. I am quite sure the climax was stunning to audiences back in the 30s, but looks weak now- and probably looked weaked 10 years after release.

I am a huge fan of Karloff and usually love these type of movies- but this one just doesn't work.
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