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SPOOKS RUN WILD(director: Phil Rosen; screenwriters: Carl Foreman/Charles R. Marion; cinematographer: Marcel Le Picard; editor: Robert Golden; music: Johnny Lange/Lew Porter; cast: Bela Lugosi (Nardo), Leo Gorcey (Muggs), Bobby Jordan (Danny), Huntz Hall (Glimpy), Sunshine Sammy Morrison (Scruno), Dave O’Brien (Jeff Dixon), David Gorcey (Peewee), Dorothy Short (Linda Mason), Donald Haines (Skinny), Dennis Moore (Doctor Von Grosch), Angelo Rossitto (Luigi), Rosemary Portia (Margie), Guy Wilkerson (Constable); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Katzman; Monogram; 1941)
“The only real horror is in how unfunny is the juvenile comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The East Side Kids–Muggs (Leo Gorcey), Danny (Bobby Jordan), Glimpy (Huntz Hall), Scruno (Sunshine Sammy Morrison), Skinny (Donald Haines) and Peewee (David Gorcey)–reluctantly board a bus bound for summer camp in this lively but silly haunted-house comedy. Veteran B-film director Phil Rosen (“Call of the Jungle”/”Wings Over the Pacific”/”The Marines Are Here”) helms it with a lowbrow sense for the ridiculous; it’s written by the future blacklisted screenwriter of High Noon (1952) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Carl Foreman and Charles R. Marion.

The rowdy city boys are runaways from summer camp and get lost in the woods, as Muggs attempts to see a pretty girl he met at a soda fountain. They are unaware that the radio broadcasts an alert for a maniacal “monster killer” in the area. When the East Side Kids wander into a graveyard, Peewee is wounded by the grave digger shooting at him with buckshot. The boys find their way to the Billings mansion, which was deserted after the owner was murdered, to get help for Peewee. In the strange house they wonder if it may or may not be haunted by the mysteriously caped Nardo (Bela Lugosi) and a creepy dwarf who assists him named Luigi (Angelo Rossitto). Nardo gives Peewee a sedative, which causes him to vanish in the cavernous house while sleepwalking. Meanwhile camp nurse Linda (Dorothy Short) is concerned about the missing campers, though her boyfriend Jeff (Dave O’Brien) is glad they’re gone so he can work in quiet on his thesis. When Jeff refuses to help search for the boys, she goes out alone. Linda foolishly accepts a ride from Von Grosch (Dennis Moore), thinking he’s the shrink going after the monster killer, and not realizing until too late that he’s the maniac.

Lugosi spoofs his trademark Dracula role, but seems to be having little fun doing it and hanging out with the scummy kid gang. The only real horror is in how unfunny is the juvenile comedy. Most of the comedy is derived from set pieces lifted from previous thrillers and none of it really seems to work as either horror or comedy.

REVIEWED ON 11/15/2007 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”