Radio star Larry Lawrence (Bob Hope) is propelled into one hairy situation after another when he becomes involved with sexy Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard), who has inherited a supposedly haunted castle in Cuba.
Along with valet Alex (a hilarious Willie Best), Larry and Mary spend a spooky night at the joint and learn fairly quickly that spooks are indeed lounging about this particular piece of real estate after a series of run-ins with a ghost and zombie.
Paramount’s follow up to the previous year’s CAT AND THE CANARY (which also stared Hope and Goddard) surpasses that film’s chill and thrill levels, due in no small part to Noble Johnson’s performance as the zombie. Along with Darby Jones’s Carrefour in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), Noble’s undead fiend is one of the creepiest monsters to shamble across the screen during film’s golden age.
For this reason alone, horror and particularly zombie fans who have never caught this one will want to give the film a look. A scene where Hope and Best first catch sight of Johnson as he rests in a mud shack is particularly haunting.
Along with ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), THE GHOST BREAKERS is one of the best early examples of a well made horror comedy. The comedy is left to the comedians, the horror to the monsters and spooks. A future generation of filmmakers definitely thought so. I’m guessing Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were fans when they set about writing their own spook comedy about another group of ghost breakers…busters…
Add Richard Carlson and Anthony Quinn (both very young) in supporting roles, and you’ve got yourself a cool little gem. So check this one out, please. Even if you feel Bob Hope’s brand of humor is as ancient as the zombie chasing him, there are enough great horror elements in this to please horror enthusiasts. And who can resist any film where the main character has two first names.