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The Ghouls (2003)

DVD Cover (Silver Nitrate Films)
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5.0
 / 10
4 votes
Genres:
Horror, Zombie Film
Director:
Chad Ferrin Chad Ferrin
Starring:
Timothy Muskatell Timothy Muskatell
Trent Haaga Trent Haaga
Tina Birchfield Tina Birchfield
Gil Espinoza Gil Espinoza
Casey Powell Casey Powell
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Review by Chad
Added: November 23, 2006
I love zombie movies, regardless of budgets, settings, or the walking speed of the undead within. Whenever a new one comes out, chances are pretty damned good that it'll either wind up on my shelf or in my Netflix queue regardless of any bad reviews or press that it may have achieved. Now, I've seen my fair share of low-budget zombie flicks, and there's a few things that I always go in expecting: the acting will suck, the special effects may or may not be good, and the storyline will be something cooked up with the sole intention of getting from one blood-soaked zombie feast to the next. With that said, this one surprised me in that it brought something fresh to the table, a rarity in both low-budget and mainstream horror alike.

Eric Hayes (Timothy Muskatell) is our leading man for the evening, and as it turns out, Eric is one of those ambulance-chasing cameramen who sees accidents and murders as just another paycheck. He's the type of guy who will record children trapped inside a burning house instead of helping them, so when he sees a woman being dragged kicking and screaming into a dark alley by a group of thugs, the dollar signs flash before his eyes. He grabs his camera to record the events, but it turns out that these thugs aren't thugs at all: they're flesh-eating ghouls, and they have no interest in robbing or raping this young woman. Eating her, that's another story, a story that Eric is all too willing to capture on film.

After narrowly avoiding the same fate as this woman, he runs to his buyer (Joseph Pilato) with this incredible tale. The only problem is that, in his drunken state, he forgot to load a tape into his camera before getting into the middle of the action. He decides to get his cameraman buddy Clift (Trent Haaga) to come along with him back to the scene of the crime in the hopes of finding out more information about these ghouls from the surrounding homeless population, and of course, he also brings along a camera (with a tape, this time) to capture the footage that will net him a huge payday. He's determined to find these ghouls and get their feeding frenzy on film, but will he find them... or will they find him?

At a glance, this sounds like just another zombie movie with some sort of catchy hook to it. Honestly, that's what I expected when I picked this one up, but what I wound up with was something altogether different. Yes, there are some zombies (well, they're called ghouls, but there's a saying about quacking ducks that applies here), and yes, there is some nasty gore sequences complete with entrails and organs, but this is not your typical zombie film. The main emphasis is on Eric and how he will do anything for a buck, and there's also something to be said about the ghouls themselves. The ghouls, in this sense, aren't necessarily the ones who are eating human flesh; no, the people who profit off of the misery and suffering of others are the real ghouls, and to an extent, so are we for watching it every night on the news. It's an interesting spin on the tried-and-true zombie tale, and on paper, it may not sound like the greatest way to spend an evening in front of the tube, but Ferrin did an excellent job with the material and the result is one very entertaining film.

During the intro for this review, I mentioned that I usually expect the acting abilities of the cast to suck in films like these. Normally, an inexperienced director will want to put together something to slap on his or her resumé, and considering that horror films are the easiest to make (note I said horror films, not good horror films) and also taking into account that zombie films happen to be one of the easier subgenres to tackle when working with little to no budget, well... it goes without saying that there's a lot of crap out there. Because of this, these films typically feature inexperienced actors - usually friends and family of the director - and the result is a bunch of idiots who do nothing more than feed the zombies / monsters / vampires / serial killer at hand. That wasn't the case here.

Timothy Muskatell is the star of the film, and not just in the traditional sense of "he has the most screen time." Everything centers around him and his decisions, and he handles this role with ease. He handles the transitions from depressed to angry to drunk to pitiful and every combination of the above flawlessly, and you really start to feel for the character that he plays. You may not like him - he's certainly not a saint - but you will feel for him as things move along. Trent Haaga also shows up, a man that some of you may have seen in various other low-budget movies (he's been in quite a few). He doesn't get a whole lot of screen time, but he's highly enjoyable (as always) when he does get some time to shine. Finally, there's Joseph Pilato (the ever-lovable Rhodes from Day of the Dead), turning in the role of an asshole boss which isn't quite as venomous as his character in Day, but fans of the Romero series will definitely get a kick out of seeing him spewing insults and obscenities at someone once again.

If you're interested in a zombie film that does things a little differently and shys away from the massive body count in favor of an intriguing storyline, pick this one up. It's definitely not what I expected, but sometimes, that is a very good thing. 8/10.
Recommended Movies
Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! Unspeakable Zombiegeddon Deadgirl Dead & Rotting Die And Let Live Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Slices
Christopher #1: Christopher - added 11/26/2006, 04:59 AM
Same fellow directed another film called Unspeakable. Which is a much better film as long as you ignore the ending. Not to say it's a weak ending, you just wouldn't appreciate it that much.
Chad #2: Chad - added 11/26/2006, 02:20 PM
Got that one all Netflix'd up via the Troma Triple B-Header: Vol. 3 set.
Ginose #3: Ginose - added 03/12/2007, 08:51 PM
Chad Ferrin is one of the most talented directors riding the indie circuit. I own both "Unspeakable" and "The Ghouls" and I love 'em both so much... I really need to see "Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!" as soon as possible.
Ferrin's got a really distinct directing style... that aqnd he doesn't care who he offends... gotta love that in a director.
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