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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
In the USA this film has been released as 'Night Of The Ghoul' and 'The Thing In The Attic'. Contrary to belief in some quarters, the film is not in the Public Domain - the rights-holder is still Tyburn Film Productions. 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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Founded by Freddie Francis' son Kevin, Tyburn Films clearly had the right lineage but their appearance on the scene was woefully ill-timed; by the mid-Seventies the Gothic brand of English horror was on its way out and this proved to be their last venture until briefly resuming operations during the following decade.
A decent enough cast was roped in for this Edwardian-era horror piece: Peter Cushing, John Hurt, Hammer starlet Veronica Carlson, Ian McCulloch later to star in Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE (1979) and Alexandra Bastedo who had earlier appeared in the cult Horror item, THE BLOOD-SPATTERED BRIDE (1972). Despite the lamest of scripts (courtesy of regular Hammer scribe Anthony Hinds), Cushing (who even won a Best Actor award at an international Horror film festival!) and Hurt are quite good here in the roles of, respectively, an embittered, widowed and defrocked clergyman with a skeleton in his closet and his crazed, homicidal gardener.
Despite the title or its alternative, NIGHT OF THE GHOUL, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the archaic, all-star British horror flick of 1933 nor Ed Wood's 1960 cheapie; the titular creature, in fact, is Cushing's inexplicably cannibalistic giant of a son whose body sports a green tinge and has something like a nappy for a costume! Cushing's late beloved wife makes an appearance in the film via a photograph as his own character's deceased spouse: she had died four years earlier and the toll its death had taken on the inconsolable star is already clearly evident here in his skeletal facial features; even so, the character's similar predicament ensures that Cushing the actor is, as always, the consummate professional.
After the "McGuffin-esque" opening of the old dark house variety, the film's first 20 minutes are taken up by a depiction of what England's society life was like in the Jazz Age as four well-bred socialites let their hair down during a party and, after having partaken of one drink too many, engage in an impromptu car chase in the fog-shrouded countryside. Predictably, reckless driving causes one of the cars to break down right in front of the peeping John Hurt's eyes who contrives to ensnare Carlson in his shed and topple her car off a cliff with her fiancé still in it! The girl eventually ends up on the ghoul's menu with McCulloch and Bastedo consequently calling on Cushing and Hurt to look for their relatives Bastedo almost shares Carlson's fate (a still of which I recall seeing in Alan Frank's "Horror Films"), while both McCulloch and Hurt nearly perish in quicksand! By the way, Cushing's belligerent Indian house-keeper is also on hand to add some spice to the film with a touch of irrelevant exoticism.
At least in the version I watched, the film is a disappointingly bloodless affair even during the ghoul's infrequent rampages a notable exception occurs when McCulloch gets a meat cleaver in the face! For what it's worth, the film ran for 80 minutes when the official length is given as 87 (the finished film submitted for BBFC certification was apparently even longer at 93 minutes)! It must be said here that my already low spirits at the film's lackluster quality were further dampened by the atrocious quality of the soundtrack which is one of the worst I've ever had the misfortune to listen to: constantly accompanied by an other-worldly squeak, it also became echoey towards the end making much of the listless dialogue all the more unintelligible. Furthermore, the DivX version of the film I got saddled with is probably taken from a public domain budget DVD release which even omits the opening credits almost in their entirety!
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