david bruce, evelyn ankers, george zucco, turhan bey, Universal, Universal Horror, universal pictures
Presented with his first top billing for Universal, Turhan Bey (The Mummy’s Tomb) has been slowly rising through the ranks to be given this recognition. Much like his co-star Evelyn Ankers (The Wolf Man) who gets her time to shine in the spotlight.
The Mad Ghoul centres on an Ancient Mayan life-preserving technique that resurrects creatures after they have shuffled off this mortal coil. Attempting to play out this diabolical task is a mad scientist, (naturally) Dr. Alfred Morris (George Zucci – The Mummy’s Hand) who sets about to prove it possible using a human subject.
Morris enlists the help of his student, Ted (David Bruce) to carry out his experiments. Ted however is too infatuated with Isabel (Ankers), but his love is not reciprocated, and when Morris too succumbs to Isabel’s charms, he decides to eradicate his opposition by performing his scientific query on Ted, and succeeds in doing so. The catch is that, in order to stay alive, Ted must continually replace his heart with that of the recently deceased. So throughout the film, Morris leads Ted in a ghoulish state to cemeteries in order to dig up the dead and steal their myocardium. There is great humour to be found here as both gentlemen mooch around attaining hearts so that they can eventually win the heart of Isabel.
Isabel, though, has her eyes for only one man, Eric Iverseon (Bey) and as such, Eric becomes the target for destruction.
Morris’ grip on the situation begins to dwindle, trying to keep Ted as his ghoulish puppet, to carry out his dastardly deeds, but his pursuits eventually come untangled as his command loses its strength and Ted develops a will of his own.
For a film that uses some of Universal’s former motifs, The Mad Ghoul does enough to cobble a story together that connects with the audience and whilst it doesn’t stand up to some of the stronger titles that have come before it, entertains nonetheless and proves to be a solid enough encounter.
- Saul Muerte