Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Taliesin meets: Ghoul

Before I take a blog style gander at the 2012, Gregory Wilson directed film I’d just like to take the opportunity of my first post at The Uranium Café Cult Cinema Club to thank Bill for th e opportunity of blogging over here.

For those who don’t know me I blog as Taliesin at Taliesin Meets the Vampires and, with a fairly heavy work rate, I blog about vampires in the movies, TV and literature. Bill has given me the opportunity to blog about other things and I do watch films other than vampire films. There’s a lot of sci-fi, horror, exploitation, world cinema and art-house films that I love but they just don’t fit in at TMtV. Bill has given me a platform to wax lyrical on these films and I will – though sporadically I would think.

I’ve started with the Ghoul, not because it is a favourite film but because I happened to watch it and thought… Hell, may as well start there.

the ghoul in question
It starts with a silhouetted creature – the ghoul – before hitting a comic book style set of opening credits. When the film starts proper we are with Timmy (Nolan Gould), a young kid who reads comic books by torchlight. It is 1984… It’s here that the film could have lost me, twice. The film concentrates on the children and, you know what, I have seen worse performances. It also decides to go into some pretty dark stuff but we’ll get to that. If the children didn’t lose me the year might of. But the film actually felt 1980s, in its look, in the filming and in the props.

Timmy and Grandpa
Anyway Timmy lives with Mom and Dad and his grandpa and it is the beginning of his summer break. His Dad has chores for him but his grandpa thinks young boys should play. He has found Timmy (and his friends’) dugout den but he won’t snitch on the kids. In fact he left a present in there for Timmy. Grandpa and Timmy are planting flowers when his friend Doug (Jacob Bila) arrives. Doug’s trouser leg has been savaged by the stray dog known to hang around. Grandpa lets Timmy slope off.

grave digging
They call for the third musketeer, Barry (Trevor Harker), but awaken his drunken dad. It is here we discover that Timmy has a Hell of a gob on him, refusing to be bullied by the misogynistic, wife (and son) beating gravedigger. Barry is at the graveyard (doing his dad’s job) but the boys are banned from playing there… though it just so happens that is where the dugout is. They are not there long when Timmy’s mom comes looking for him. His granddad has died…

Anyway, long tale shortened. There is a rumour of a ghoul that lives below the graveyard. He is blamed when teens go missing. There are also mine shafts below the graveyard from before the mine collapsed. Teens do start going missing (and there seems little reaction by the police, but perhaps that is because we look from the boys’ point of view). We also see that the ghoul is killing the males but abducting the females.

I said that the film touched on some dark stuff and it is not just domestic violence – though we see Barry badly beaten and the eventual reaction of him wanting to 1) exact violence back on his dad and 2) meting out violence – to the stray dog – that went beyond defence and became animal cruelty. We also discover that Doug is a victim of child abuse of a sexual nature (and in turn this might have led to his overeating and obesity). In a twist, however, this is perpetrated by his mother. Then, of course, there is the ghoul…

coffin of blood
You’ll work out pretty early on what is going on, but I don’t intend to spoil that. What is more interesting is some vampiric overtones that the filmmakers added in (we just can’t escape vampires). Timmy has dreams of the ghoul. In one he is pulled by the creature into an exposed coffin that is swimming with blood. The blood filled coffin was actually a determining factor as to whether a corpse was a vampire or not in the 18th century vampire panics and is a device used in the novella Carmilla. Another borrowed trope is the idea that the ghoul can be killed by pulling it into sunlight – though in this case it perhaps more signifies exposing the town’s dirty little secrets.

aftermath of violence
Not everything with the film is well done. Disbelief was far from suspended when a group of teens explore a tunnel (thinking it is Timmy’s dugout) and split up. They stand below an electric light that not one comments on and leave the girl to stand watch, taking a lighter as their light source and leaving her with the torch (despite the fact that she is stood in light). Things like that are just sloppy. I felt that the pacing was a little off in places. But this tried to do so much more than the standard fair and that is to be congratulated.


  1. Yes Andy, this is wonderful (in A ghoulish way). Thanks for sharing something outside your Vampire realm. This is really the first post for the site and I am happy it was from you. I think I may have this on my Chinese streaming movie site (or it may be Ghouls). I watch a lot of other things too, including mainstream films and have considered reviewing those sorts of films as well, but it would just be too much work. Just watched The Bourne Legacy and overall liked it. But not really sure I would be able to get into reviewing it. I have Caltiki to review!

    Thanks ol' chum


  2. Cheers Bill

    I am two episodes away from finishing a marathon watch on the Walking Dead seasons 1 & 2 and may well pull something together for that :)