The movie Night of the Ghouls (1959) is a horror film written and directed by Ed Wood.
The film commences with Criswell, a medium, emerging from a coffin to narrate the film’s events. A montage follows, illustrating juvenile delinquency, street fighting, and drunk driving. The sequence concludes with the lifeless body of the intoxicated driver staring blankly at the camera. According to Criswell’s narration, this is a rather typical end to “a drunken holiday weekend”.
The narrative then shifts to a teenage couple sharing a passionate kiss in a convertible. When the boy becomes overly aggressive, the girl slaps him and exits the vehicle. The Black Ghost, an undead entity lurking in the nearby woods, later murders the young couple. The murders attract media attention but are believed to be the work of a maniac.
In an East Los Angeles police station, Inspector Robbins awaits Detective Bradford in his office. Bradford soon arrives, dressed in formal evening attire. He was summoned to work while en route to the opera, and he protests the idea of working an unexpected assignment. However, Robbins informs him that the case involves the “old house on Willows lake”, which played a part in an earlier case investigated by Bradford. The house was destroyed by lightning, but someone rebuilt it. A flashback scene establishes that the elderly Edwards couple had a terrifying encounter with the White Ghost by this house. Having heard the story, Bradford accepts the assignment to investigate the old house. Robbins assigns Kelton to escort the Detective. Kelton has previously dealt with the supernatural in the events depicted in Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Bradford drives to the house and enters through an open door, where he is confronted by Dr. Acula, who is dressed in a turban and cryptically mentions that there are many already in the house, both living and dead. Bradford convinces Acula that he is just another prospective client, so his entrance is accepted. One of “the many” in the house is a remnant of its past, Lobo. A character from Bride, Lobo is depicted as disfigured from the flames which once destroyed this house. Outside the house, Kelton arrives late and has brief encounters with both the Black and the White Ghost. Meanwhile, at a séance, Acula and his clients share the table with human skeletons. Dr. Acula turns out to be a fake psychic by the name of “Karl”, as Bradford suspected earlier, and reveals that the White Ghost is an actress named Sheila. Her role is to scare away intruders. She is concerned by the presence of the Black Ghost which is not part of their hoax, though the cynical Acula dismisses her fears. He doesn’t believe in the supernatural.
Both Bradford and Kelton have strange and sometimes violent confrontations within the house, and are eventually joined by reinforcements. As their accomplices fall to the police, Karl and Sheila attempt to escape through a mortuary room. There they are confronted by a group of undead men. Among them is Criswell, who is the only one than can speak, explaining to Karl that the supposedly “fake” psychic does have genuine powers and his necromantic efforts actually work. These dead men were restored to life, if only for a few hours, but they intend to take Karl with them in their return to the grave. As Karl dies, Sheila escapes the house to meet her own fate. The Black Ghost, genuinely undead, takes control of the impostor and tells her that it is time to join “the others” at the grave. As the police try to understand what happened to the deceased Karl, we see an undead Sheila, now truly a White Ghost.
In a brief epilogue, the narrator returns to his coffin. Claiming that it is time for both the old dead and the new to return to their graves, he reminds the viewer that they too can soon join them in death.
- Kenne Duncan as Dr. Acula
- Duke Moore as Lt. Daniel Bradford
- Tor Johnson as Lobo
- Valda Hansen as The White Ghost
- Johnny Carpenter as Captain Robbins
- Paul Marco as Kelton
When Wade Williams acquired the rights to Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957) in 1982, Edward D. Wood Jr.’s widow, Kathy Wood, told him this never-released film was being held by a post-production house because the lab fees hadn’t been paid. 
Williams paid the fees and acquired this film, finally releasing it 23 years after it was filmed. 
“For Ed Wood fans and seekers of cinematic curiosities, Night of the Ghouls is a veritable treasure trove, a phantasmagoria of sight and sound. When it is boring, it is transcendentally boring. When it is ridiculous, it is triumphantly ridiculous. I love it to pieces. ” – d2rights.blogspot.com
“But I’ll tell you this and it’s very important: if you watch this movie thinking, “haha, oh Ed Wood, haha” then you can easily write it off as a joke but if you suspend your disbelief and actively watch it like you would anything else, it’s got some neat twists.” – savagehippie.com