Spooks Run Wild [DVD] [1941]

Spooks Run Wild is one of those movies that seemed incredibly neat to many of us as kids -- at age eight, what could one say that's bad about a picture that mixes the East Side Kids, Bela Lugosi, diminutive actor Angelo Rossitto, Reefer Madness-alumnus and future Red Skelton gagman Dave O'Brien, a haunted house, and a serial murderer on the loose all together in a 65 minute stew? Critics and film historians, along with Lugosi fans, however, despise the movie -- this DVD is a reminder that whatever one's objections, based on illogical elements of the script and too many red-herrings littering the landscape, Spooks Run Wild has one element that makes it worth seeing today: It's fun, and then some. There were flaws in the first copy that this reviewer picked up that made it impossible to run it on my DVD player, but on my computer it not only started up just fine but looked and sounded good -- not great, but no worse than some of the old broadcasts of the picture when it was still under copyright, though there are some sloppy moments in the film-to-video transfer. The real treat was finally seeing the movie intact; when it was shown on television, the 65 minute Spooks Run Wild was usually shoe-horned into a one-hour time-slot, which meant that the first 13 minutes of the movie were chopped out -- this DVD was the first time in 30+ years that this reviewer had seen the original opening, which contains a very funny bit byHuntz Hall in what was only his second East Side Kids movie. The source for this disc isn't perfect, but even the darkest scenes have some detail and the audio is consistent throughout. As to the movie, it holds up better than its detractors make out, and parts of it are genuinely funny, in a 30's lunkhead humor sort of way. The disc opens automatically on a simple menu and offers five chapter designations, not really adequate but hardly a drawback, either.
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Spooks Run Wild
In their first of two Monogram spook comedies, the East Side Kids and Bela Lugosi square off in yet another haunted house. On their way to summer camp, the malapropism dependant East Siders are warned of a "monster killer" loose in the area, and, sure enough, almost immediately encounter Nardo (Lugosi) and his weird little helper Luigi (Angelo Rossitto). Nardo does very little to repudiate the Kids' impression of him as a vampire (the Kids say "vulture" lest Monogram should get in trouble with Universal, who held the rights to Dracula), but is he really the monster killer? Perhaps Doctor Von Grosch (Dennis Moore) knows, the famed mystery writer and "monster hunter" having arrived like clockwork at the creepy Billings mansion with camp nurse Linda Mason (Dorothy Short) in tow. Although Peewee (David Gorcey) is at one point feared to have become the victim of the "vulture," the smart aleck turns up safe and sound, and Muggs (Leo Gorcey) and the Kids decide to trap the killer. And so they do, ably assisted by young attorney Jeff Dixon (Dave O'Brien), who, for reasons not immediately clear, has a vested interest in the well being of the East Side Kids. O'Brien and leading lady Dorothy Short were married in real life. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Bela Lugosi
    Bela Lugosi - Nardo, the Monster
  • Leo Gorcey
    Leo Gorcey - Muggs McGinnis
  • Huntz Hall
    Huntz Hall - Glimpy Freedhoff
  • Bobby Jordan
    Bobby Jordan - Danny
  • David Gorcey
    David Gorcey - Pee Wee
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