Peter Cushing stars as a former priest who harbors a dark and horrible secret in his attic. The locked room serves as a prison cell for his crazed, cannibalistic adult son, who acquired his...
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Peter Cushing stars as a former priest who harbors a dark and horrible secret in his attic. The locked room serves as a prison cell for his crazed, cannibalistic adult son, who acquired his savage tastes in India during his father's missionary work there. Cushing fears that his son will escape to prey upon the effete guests at his rural English estate during a cross-country auto race. Written by
Peter Cushing and Sir John Hurt played Doctor Who. Cushing in two films of 1965 and 1966 and Hurt in three television episodes in 2013. See more »
At c. 27 minutes we see Peter Cushing tuning his violin but he is not playing the open strings that we hear. Furthermore, later shots of his violin playing are extremely badly mimed. See more »
[after Dr. Lawrence mentions his wife's suicide]
Daphne Welles Hunter:
I'm sorry, I shouldn't be so inquisitive. It must be very painful for you to talk about it.
The pain is there, whether I talk about it or not.
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Another underrated British horror film from the 1970s!
Many 1970s horror films made in the UK are vastly underrated and THE GHOUL is definitely one of those films. In my opinion, it's better than most Hammer films. So why some people talk as though this were some cheap, awful dreck I simply don't know. For one thing, it has Peter Cushing and John Hurt at the top of their game. We get to see an exciting car race, Veronica Carlson is great to watch and listen to, the misty setting provides a great atmospheric backdrop, there's a very creepy vibe in the scenes where the ghoul appears or is about to appear and there's never a dull moment. What's not to like?
This is one of those films where you know the plot but you're not sure quite how it'll unfold and what twists and turns may be presented along the way. The setting is the 1920s and a group of rich people are having a party. One of the party-goers gets her boyfriend to challenge another guy to a race to Land's End (the most Southerly point of England). Along the way, they become lost and one of them finds herself in a house owned by a former Clergyman who harbours a secret.
Peter Cushing delivers one of his most moving performances in this film (second only to TALES FROM THE CRYPT). The scenes where he's telling the guest of his house about his past must have been at times difficult and uncomfortable to perform. But Cushing performs them to perfection as we know he always would. These moments are key in leading us to decide whether he did wrong and make us wonder what we might have done if we were in his shoes.
John Hurt is simply fantastic as Cushing's gardener, Tom Rawlings. He is at times creepy and at others comical but always fun to watch in action.
Veronica Carlson is at her best in this film - the one film in which she gets to play a major role. She has screen presence and looks very glamorous as Daphne.
Alexandra Bastedo is a bit wasted in the lesser role of Angela, more of a damsel-in-distress character than the one given to Carlson. But she plays it well.
Gwen Watford is suitably sinister as the Indian Ayah who serves as Cushing's housekeeper.
Ian McCulloch is more famous for his roles in Italian films such as ZOMBIE. But he's great to watch in this film too.
The directing by Freddie Francis is excellent. Francis is good at creating atmosphere and ensuring key scenes have a creepy vibe to them. He selects his camera angles carefully so that while you see what he wants you to see, he also uses the power of suggestion very well. He's also good at delivering shocks and surprises. I can never forget the moment for example in DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS when Roy Castle turns on the light and finds the Voodoo god seemingly standing right next to him, more or less. The guy isn't stood as close as he appears to be and he also looks very tall and imposing too in that first shot.
Overall, THE GHOUL is an immensely enjoyable film. It's darker in tone and more gruesome than a Hammer or Amicus effort but it's a great British horror film from the golden age that all fans of such films should enjoy.
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