For Reel

Spooks Run Wild (1941)
October 30, 2016, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Phil Rosen
1.5 Stars
spooks-run-wildThe horror comedy enjoyed considerable success in the 1940s, finally culminating with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein as the decade came to a close. As with any Hollywood trend, studios like Monogram would capitalize on ticket sales by creating their own low-budget counterparts. Spooks Run Wild is one of several horror comedies the Bowery Boys (then called the East Side Kids) would make in their storied career, and it was the first to star Bela Lugosi (Lugosi would also appear in 1943’s Ghosts on the Loose). Whereas Lugosi played straight in many of these horror comedies, Spooks Run Wild does allow him some fun due to a twist late in the picture. Unfortunately, the picture not only lacks imagination compared to the other films in this sub-genre, but director Phil Rosen and editor Robert Golden render it almost incomprehensible—the way a scene involving dueling walking sets of armor is cut is meant to amplify the suspense by cutting away at pivotal moments, but it just disorients the viewer and fails to sustain any sense of thrilling momentum. Among the few highlights is the performance by Sunshine Sammy Morrison, essentially playing the Willie Best role. If, as with Best’s roles in films like The Ghost Breakers and The Smiling Ghost, the film is dated as it regards the color of his skin, much of the film’s comedic highlights involve his particular gift with reaction shots. The film’s most successful scene involves the trope of a character slowly realizing that they are standing next to the monster, with Morrison and Lugosi timing the encounter exceedingly well.

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