The Ghoul (1933 film)

The Ghoul (1933) is a British horror film starring Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, and Ralph Richardson, making his film debut.

The Ghoul
Directed byT. Hayes Hunter
Produced byMichael Balcon
Written byDr. Frank King (play)
Rupert Downing
Leonard Hines
Roland Pertwee
John Hastings Turner
StarringBoris Karloff
Cedric Hardwicke
Ernest Thesiger
Ralph Richardson
Music byLouis Levy
Leighton Lucas
CinematographyGünther Krampf
Edited byIan Dalrymple
Ralph Kemplen
Distributed byWoolf & Freedman Film Service
Release date
August 1933 (UK)
January 1934 (US)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budgetjust under £40,000[1]


Egyptologist and professor Henry Morlant (Boris Karloff) thinks an ancient jewel will give him powers of rejuvenation if it is offered up to the god Anubis. But when Morlant dies, his assistant Laing (Ernest Thesiger) steals the jewel. While a gaggle of interlopers, including a disreputable lawyer (Cedric Hardwicke) and a fake vicar (Ralph Richardson), descend on the professor's manor to steal the jewel for themselves, Morlant returns from the dead to punish everyone who has betrayed him.


Release and preservation

Loosely based on a 1928 novel by Frank King (and subsequent play by King and Leonard J. Hines), The Ghoul was produced by Gaumont British and released in the UK in August 1933. Release in the US followed in January 1934, with a reissue in 1938. The film was financially successful in the UK, but performed disappointingly in the US.[1] The only film made during a brief contract dispute with Universal Studios, The Ghoul also marked the first time in over two decades that Karloff had acted in Britain and the British film industry. [2]

Subsequently, the film disappeared and was considered to be a lost film. In 1969, collector William K. Everson located a murky, virtually inaudible subtitled copy, Běs, in then-communist Czechoslovakia. Though missing eight minutes of footage including two violent murder scenes, it was thought to be the only surviving copy of the film. Everson had a 16mm copy made and for years made it available to film societies in England and the United States, including a screening at The New School in New York City in 1975 on a Halloween triple bill with Lon Chaney in The Monster and Bela Lugosi in The Gorilla. Subsequently, The Museum of Modern Art and Janus Film made an archival negative of the Prague print and it went into very limited commercial distribution.

In the early 1980s a disused and forgotten film vault at Shepperton Studios, its door blocked by stacked lumber, was cleared and yielded the nitrate camera negative of the film in perfect condition. The British Film Institute took possession of the film, new prints were made, and the complete version aired on Channel 4 in the UK. However, the official VHS release from MGM/UA Home Video was of the mutilated Czech copy. In 2003, MGM/UA released the fully restored version of the film on DVD. [3] It was subsequently released in the United Kingdom by Network Distributing, in restored DVD and Blu-Ray editions featuring a new commentary by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones.

Later version

What A Carve Up! (1961) is a British comedy-horror film directed by Pat Jackson and starring Sid James, Kenneth Connor, and Shirley Eaton, loosely based on The Ghoul. It was released in the United States as No Place Like Homicide in 1962.[4]

See also


  1. Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 133, 141
  2. accessed 12 March 2019
  3. accessed 12 March 2019
  4.!-v54049 accessed 12 March 2019
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