Cult Corner: Ghoul School (1990) Comic Book & DVD Combo - Reviewed

It's time for Ghoul School!

New from Camp Motion Pictures is the Ghoul School comic and DVD collection, which is the first volume in a new horror comic book series from the distributor. The cult horror film is a enjoyable ride in the world of microbudgeted horror and trashterpiece cinema, with an almost never ending supply of big hair and mullets, bad acting, continuity goofs, and loads of blood and gore. This is in no way a bad thing, as fans of the VHS and SOV era are sure to find this to be an entertaining riff on Return of the Living Dead and Lamberto Bava’s Demons. Complimenting the movie is the cartoonish and campy comic book written and illustrated by radio personality and cartoonist Noel Scotch Anderson.

As mentioned above, the plot is a basic combination of Return and Demons. The creators make no bones about what it is, as there were so many ripoff style movies that were made and released during the VHS era. That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The basic premise see two thugs visiting a high school after hours in order to rob the janitor, who has some sort of money or valuables stashed away in the basement. While searching for this, they accidentally release toxic chemicals into the school’s water supply, turning many of the remaining students into ghouls. Two geeky kids that stayed at school to watch a horror movie must now fight for survival with the help of a rock band and the high school basketball coach. Minus any nudity, Ghoul School could easily have fit into the Troma film library. Like Troma, it is filled with crass dialogue and humor, low budget acting, and an endless supply of violence. As with many low budget movies, there are questionable plot points and continuity issues that were mainly due to bringing in moderately known celebrities. In this case, it was New York television personality Joe Franklin and comedian Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling. Their insertion into the film is rather odd and features one of those weird scenes where characters are over explaining plot points when they don’t need to. There is also a huge elephant in the room that begs asking, “Why are there toxic chemicals housed in this school that are so dangerous they’ll turn people into ghouls?” Along with this, it also features the worst high school basketball team in the history of sports. Seriously, how do they deliberately missing every single shot? These are just some of the fun things that you can ask yourself while watching, just like you would with other similar low budget pictures.

The acting really isn’t too bad. I have definitely seen worse before. The actors that play the two main geeks are fun and could have actually carried the movie more, or had some additional comedic dialogue. There is one really great one-liner delivered that had me chuckling. The special effects can be laughable at times, because you can tell that it’s obviously fake, but there is more than enough of it to keep horror fans watching. There’s tons of blood being spilled, limbs get severed, heads are flying, and guts are being ripped out. Despite its extremely low budget, the crew made sure to at least deliver on the gore front.

Probably the best part of the DVD is all of the tremendous bonus features that have been packed in. There are three student films from the filmmaker, the original fundraising promo for Ghoul School, the original 8-bit opening title sequence, the making of Ghoul School originally filmed in 1990, and three commentary tracks.

The comic from Anderson is reminiscent of the underground comics from the ‘70s mixed with the cartoonish look of the Archie comics. The story essentially mirrors the film, minus some alterations and additional dialogue. It’s a fun comic that not only adds to the film, but also pokes fun at its campiness.

Ghoul School isn’t going to win any awards, though it’s certainly not the worst movie ever made, but most fans of low budget horror from the VHS and SOV era should get a kick out of it. Plus, the price is extremely reasonable for a comic and the large amount of content on the DVD. 

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-Raul Vantassle