For Reel

The Ghost Breakers (1940)
October 27, 2014, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Marshall
4 Stars
The Ghost BreakersThe horror comedy genre tends to emphasize the latter so thoroughly that the scares are all but forgotten. While Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein had the right idea in having the cast of horror icons play it straight, it was never effectively chilling–each scare is the set up for a joke where the punchline involves Costello witnessing something terrifying that Abbott inevitably won’t believe. The Ghost Breakers, on the other hand, effectively treads the line between genres. Bob Hope’s wisecracks are relatively understated (his star persona had not yet been established by the point) and director George Marshall is just as invested in creating the eery atmosphere of the voodoo swamp and the haunted castle as he is in the physical gags (mostly involving the talented Willie Best). Things start slowly, but the major set piece of the castle and the things that lurk within is hugely satisfying–the set is menacing in scale and atmosphere, Hope and co-star Paulette Goddard react terrifically to the scares, and Noble Johnson as the zombie is truly frightening.

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