Horror-movie superfan Forest Inman thinks he’s found the long-lost classic that was never “Night of the Ghoul,” but what should be this cinephile’s biggest discovery could turn into his worst nightmare. Sweet spoilers ahead
Cover of Francesco Francavilla
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated and colored by Francesco Francavilla
Lettered by Andworld Design
night of the ghoul should have been a horror masterpiece. Filmed in 1946, it was meant to be a classic to accompany FrankensteinWhere The Mummy, but unfortunately the film never saw its release. Prior to the film’s final edit, a freak fire raged through the studio, destroying the film and killing several cast and crew members. Decades later, horror film expert and film restorer Forest Inman believes he has found a film canister containing the only known remnants of the ill-fated horror image. However, instead of being the cinematic discovery of the century, fiction and reality are beginning to merge, as the titular ghoul may not just be an invented movie monster, but rather a very real creature bent on killing. forest.
night of the ghoul is set during World War I and tells the story of a small platoon that is sent to liberate an Italian village, but once they arrive they are hunted down and killed by the ghoul. Not just a powerful monster in his own right in this story, but director TF Merrit defines him as the freak. The base of vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc. You name it, and something he created or accomplished is responsible for creating every monster throughout all tales and horror stories.
Told through the current part of the story and bits of the film found by Forest Inman, the first issue delves into how obsessed Forest has become, dragging his son and estranged wife along with research and pursuit of wild geese in search of the film’s director, who was long thought dead. Writer Scott Snyder has a lot of fun with this script as he’s able to work in his slightly wordy, yet light and conversational dialogue, as well as his penchant for storytelling and creating dark legends, and a love of horror. B. movies. Being able to switch between Inman and company scenes during the current sequences and the cliche, but the classic dialogue for a fictional black and white horror movie must have come with a lot of creative freedom and the fear of spoiling it otherwise well done. This is the kind of script I always want from Snyder, take him out of the superhero books, drop him into the horror world, and he’s allowed to put together some really scary stuff that will stay with you for a long time after putting the comic down.
Every great monster story puts you on a path with the protagonist and before they know it, it’s too late and the evil thing is going to come out of the shadows and rip them off. “Night of the Ghoul” does the same with a nice set up of Forest believing he has the upper hand in this area. He found what remains of the film, he believes he found Merrit hiding under an alias, but in truth the secrets he uncovered only sealed his fate, and that of his son, Orson. His obsessive nature and ego got the better of him and now he’s been dragged into something he could never begin to understand, and Snyder writes it with an almost cheerful tone. It’s horrible, but you also have fun reading it. Taking the best elements from horror classics and only the most schlocki of schlock, Snyder crafts a story built on twists and secrets hidden beneath secrets.
The pacing is methodical, and as the story moves between mystery and movie scenes, things slow down, but the terror and questions are there with every panel. You are meant to feel every mystery unraveled, every eye peering from the shadows, every bit of tension as you wonder what is going on. Aside from any minor changes in pacing or density of detail, the writing takes you on the journey that Snyder and Francavilla always intended to take you on. It really is their baby and it’s a classic horror story in every way. There are some truly chilling moments in this first issue and while Snyder’s writing sets up the mystery and horror, it’s the art, brilliantly drawn and colored by Francesco Francavilla that pushes it over the edge. Working in his classic palette of reds, oranges, blues, and blacks, Francavilla gives us the high-contrast midnight movie that B-horror fans want to enjoy in every way possible. Knowing when to draw lines to give minimal detail, or when to fill a page with thick lines and color to get into the deepest nooks and crannies, Francavilla masterfully balances exactly what it wants you to get out of each panel. and turn the page.
Like Snyder’s writing having the ability to move between styles and methods, Francavilla sets to work in two worlds. Although his illustration style doesn’t change all that much when drawing the pages showing the “Night of the Ghoul” footage, he does exercise some restraint with the character design, making them feel like actors. of the 1940s without going into the range of caricature. Also making a 1946 movie set in 1917 has its own mix of styles to contend with and it pulls it off perfectly. As well as working his familiar style with a black-and-white palette for the fictional film, he can play with other ideas, including pages that look like old Hitchcock thrillers, a Universal Monsters movie, and a healthy dose of German Expressionism. All are overused and over-discussed when it comes to film and review, but between the film at the center of this story being made during and after the time of these examples, it makes sense to deliberately include them in this mix.
“Night of the Ghoul” reads best in a dimly lit room, or in complete silence from one of the large horror scores playing softly near you. Let the story engulf you and the unease that builds up in the greatest scares will pull you right in. Telling a mostly scripted story that walks the line between cinephile obsession and classic spinning without losing its way to what is both a monster story. and a multifaceted mystery.
Originally released as a six-part digital series on Comixology, “Night of the Ghoul” is getting a three-issue physical release via Dark Horse Comics, with each issue including material from two issues. So you take a heavy and beautifully printed copy.
Final Verdict: 8.5, a strong premiere that introduces real fear and insight into horror lore and filmmaking, without feeling left out to those still learning the language of horror cinema.