46 user 38 critic

Night of the Ghouls (1959)

Unrated | | Horror | 1984 (USA)
Phony spiritualist raises the dead.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Duke Moore ...
Lt. Daniel Bradford (as 'Duke' Moore)
Valda Hansen ...
Johnny Carpenter ...
Captain Robbins (as John Carpenter)
Paul Marco ...
Don Nagel ...
Jeannie Stevens ...
Harvey B. Dunn ...
Margaret Mason ...
Clay Stone ...
Young Man
Marcelle Hemphill ...
Mrs. Wingate Yates Foster
Tom Mason ...
Foster Ghost
James La Maida ...


Follow-up to Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space" about the walking dead, It opens in a cemetery. Criswell, the "real" medium, rises from his coffin to tell us of "monsters to be despised." Dr. Acula (Kenne Duncan) is a phony medium aided by Valda Hansen, a bogus ghost, and big Tor Johnson, wearing rags and horrible scar makeup as Lobo. The doctor swindles people by pretending to contact dead relatives, but then accidentally succeeds in reviving a bunch of corpses that bury him alive! Sat unreleased for 23 years because Wood couldn't pay the lab bill! Followed by "Sinister Urge" in 1961 (Wood's last film). Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dr. Acula  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Reviewer Rob Craig suggests that the film could be in part based on an earlier film, Sucker Money (1933), produced by Willis Kent. The two films have significant similarities in concept. In the earlier film, Swami Yomurda (Mischa Auer) and his minions stage an elaborate scheme to extort money from gullible victims. Yomurda and his group use technological means to convince their victims that they are receiving sounds and images from the "other world". Craig himself, however, notes that this film cannot be considered a straightforward remake, since Edward D. Wood Jr. used the same template to tell a quite different story from the 1930s melodrama. See more »


In the scene that features the two teenagers in the car, the film suddenly speeds up tremendously. The whole scene was shot in 1910s silent film style. See more »


Criswell: How many of you know the horror, the terror I will now reveal to you?
See more »


Follows Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

Night of the Ghouls
30 January 2006 | by See all my reviews

'Night' meets the high standards Edward D. Wood, Jr. It's a minor classic, albeit a crucial one, commensurate with the 1953 psychodrama, "Glen or Glenda", termed by scurrilous wags 'Bargain Basement Equus'.

Previously unaware of 'Night's' existence, I enjoyed it on Elvira's L.A. TV show. I was living in Palm Springs pursuing film work. I therefore appreciated those who bravely film the unfilmable. 'Night' is just that - unfilmable.

'Dr. Acula' is a pun so moronic it would shame a five year old. It defines the film. Clueless starlets wander groggily. A bumbling - and badly overacting cop - quakes before them. Dr. Acula scams the rich.

Sound familiar? You bet. Sham-psychics scamming wealthy swells were featured in Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe novels. Albeit with one trifling distinction. Chandler could write. Ed Wood, well....

'Night' is not without merit. Paul Marco's overblown 'Kelton' could be sold as 'Do This on Your First Audition & It Will be Your Last'. There are good performances. There are bad. There are a precious few which embarrass viewers. Thespian Marco strives for that mark - and hits it.

Cheesy sets used with shameless repetition abound. Watch for the pine-panel door. It's in the police station. It's in 'Dr. Acula's' home. It's all over. Like dog doot. And, please, would some kind soul explain why in all Wood films, walls are hung with heavy drapes? Spaceships, police stations, doctor's offices, the drapes..the drapes... What is the hidden meaning?

As with audition techniques, never do what Wood's cops and robbers do. Why do they flick a gun when pulling its trigger? Cryptic symbolism? Artifice, a cinematic trick to direct your eyes to it? Underscore emotionality behind the shot? One thing it's not is good shooting. Flicking guns won't make bullets go faster. It simply makes them go where they shouldn't.

The camera always tells the truth. Watch the eyes and faces of those gathered round Dr. Acula. Curiosity and awe in a twinkling turn to 'what on earth am I doing here?' You may ask yourself as much as the film slogs to its boring conclusion. Still, you'll appreciate why it takes more than being Tor Johnson to play Calliban. You'll know why Criswell's narration is no substitute for that of Orson Welles. Then again, Orson Welles couldn't produce Night of the Ghouls.

Paul Vincent Zecchino

Manasoviet Key, FL

30 January, 2006

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