I decided to check out Night of the Ghoul entirely on a whim. This has been an especially hectic year for me and I’ve fallen very behind on my reading. I have not touched my comixology subscription in months. Now that things have settled down I’ve been trying to catch up. I was scrolling through the library and this caught my eye.
Longtime readers/listeners of Words About Books will know that I am a fan of horror. I especially have a soft spot for old B-horror movies and old horror comics. When I saw Night of the Ghoul, and I saw that it was about an old horror movie that turns out to have been more fact than fiction, I was hooked. I’m pleased to say that it was everything that I hoped it would be.
Night of the Ghoul is the story of Forest Inman and his son who have driven out to an old folks home in the middle of the night to visit a man they believe to be legendary (fictional) horror director, T.F. Merritt who has been missing for decades after his masterpiece was destroyed in a mysterious fire. I feel like I’ve heard this before…
Inman works in a film studio and he has been able to recover a significant portion of Merritt’s film: Night of the Ghoul. He’s come to visit Merritt tonight to learn more about the film and perhaps even acquire the full picture of what Night of the Ghoul was supposed to be. There’s a complication, though.
Merritt insists that his film is the truth, meant to expose a shadowy cult dedicated to The Ghoul, the monster from which all other monster stories are derived. Before it could be released, the cult found Merritt. They burned down his studio and captured him. He has been their prisoner every since, and Inman will be lucky to escape this encounter with his life!
Night of the Ghoul is a perfectly executed homage to the kind of B-movie, creepy comics horror that I love. The story is relatively simple and predictable to any fan of the genre. I could imagine Uncle Creepy introducing this story in a pre-comics code authority era magazine. To me, this is a compliment.
Night of the Ghoul is built on some old bones, but Francavilla’s updated art injects some fresh blood. I genuinely hope that younger readers, or anyone who has a hard time with the old timey look and language of the classics give this one a shot.
Night of the Ghoul certainly has its flaws. This is not likely to blow any minds or revolutionize the way we think about horror. Envelopes are not pushed. New ground is not broken. Night of the Ghoul treads a well worn path. As long as expectations are properly calibrated, though, I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world.
If you’re only going to read one horror comic this year, it probably shouldn’t be Night of the Ghoul. However, If you’re curious about old school horror or if you’re like me, and you already spend your Friday nights watching Joe Bob Briggs and listening to Psychobilly music then go ahead and add this to your list.