24 October 2005 | horrorfilmx
My favorite horror-comedy
Like others, I first saw this as a kid and was so scared I didn't realize it was supposed to be a comedy. I watched it again last night and was still impressed by how effective the horror scenes are. Noble Johnson in his subtle but terrific zombie make-up is as chilling as anything in a "straight" horror film of the period. The sets are great and the cinematography wonderfully atmospheric. George Marshall was a very underrated director and his pictorial sense is frequently stunning (note the two shot of Paulette Goddard in her period costume and the painting of her ancestor on the wall). Goddard is strikingly pretty and charming, Bob Hope seems fresh and energetic (and very effective in some of his straight moments) and Willy Best gets to shed his "scared darky" persona and play a funny and reasonably straight role. Those who've commented on the humiliating racial stereotype Best seems to be playing here are understandably confused. THE GHOST BREAKERS is years ahead of its time in its treatment of Best's character. This is a guy who began his career under the stage name "Sleep'n'Eat", yet here he plays a rational and reasonably intelligent character named Alex, a comic sidekick but one that might easily have been played by Edward Everett Horton or any number of white actors. He's the one who figures out that Hope couldn't be a murderer because he was carrying the wrong caliber gun, and while he's as scared of a zombie as anybody would be he also pitches into the fight when the monster has to be subdued. If Best didn't consider this one of the best (sorry about that) roles of his career I'd be very surprised.