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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Spooks Run Wild (1941) - Phil Rosen


Spooks Run Wild is a hilarious romp. I never thought I would use that term but here we are. The East Side Kids are not as annoying as you would think. The movie feels like it was filmed years before 1941, but that is just due to a pretty low budget. Bela Lugosi stars and does a pretty decent job. I liked this movie much more than any other of his post-Dracula vehicles.

A group of teens is sent out to a camp for "special kids". A small group wanders off and gets lost. These are the East Side Kids. The Kids end up walking through a graveyard. One of them gets shot and they take refuge in the nearest home. That home happens to belong to a mysterious vampire-like stranger played by Bela Lugosi. He offers to help them and insists that they stay at his home for the night. Weird things start to happen and the East Side Kids try to escape before they meet their demise. 

This movie was incredibly surprising. I didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Sometimes it gets tedious, going back and watching these old movies. Don't get me wrong. I love these old classics. It's just that this movie goes right back to the old Old Dark House theme and it's tired. That is the worst thing about these old features. They tend to just ride on that theme and it's been going on since the early 1900's. It's the one of the oldest plots. 

This is another example of Bela Lugosi not being able to shake off that vampire gimmick. The people loved it and it made his career. He was pigeonholed. No matter how much he hated it, it made him famous. His performance in this is actually really good. It's not just a throw away casting choice. He gets a really decent amount of screen-time and is intricate to the storyline. This isn't one of his best, but damn if it isn't impressive. 

This is a comedy through and through. It may have a horror theme around it, but the coating is comedy. The East Side Kids are a comedy troupe and this is just one of their showcase movies that happens to have Bela Lugosi in it. If you are looking to have nightmares than you might be disappointing. This isn't that type of film. Kids can watch this and not miss a beat of sleep. I recommend this to anyone that wants to follow Bela's career or has a love for old comedy. As I said above, it is enjoyable for all. I had a great time watching it even if it isn't scary. 

Director: Phil Rosen
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan and Huntz Hall
Style: Old Dark House Comedy Horror
Country: USA
Studio: Monogram Pictures

Did ya know? 
Filmed June-July 1941.The second of Bela Lugosi's 9 Monogram features, and the first of two with the East Side Kids.

The copyright expired and was not renewed, so the film fell into "public domain", meaning that virtually anyone could copy it and sell it without having to pay royalties. That's why there are so so many shoddy, badly cut, grainy copies of it on the market, put out mainly by companies that specialize in public-domain films.

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