Dr. Bernard Adrian is a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman's polio. He needs spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum. Meanwhile, a ... See full summary »
Dr. Bernard Adrian is a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman's polio. He needs spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum. Meanwhile, a vicious circus ape has broken out of its cage, and is terrorizing towns people. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
It doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but this cheapie was better than I expected, thanks not only to Karloff's sympathetic performance but to a script by Curt Siodmak, who did much better things. Once you accept that the main idea is stupid, you can appreciate that each individual scene is well-written in terms of character development. Everyone is slightly more ambiguous than their stock character usually would be. The "mad" doctor is sincerely concerned with the insipid heroine who reminds him of his daughter, and his madness is a kind of beautiful tragedy. The "good" boyfriend says he doesn't want her hurt, but he also seems jealous of the doctor and resentful that the heroine won't be so dependent on him. There's real tension in their triangle. The hick sheriff is almost sharp enough to figure things out. The town blowhard gets several scenes showing what a well-chiseled wretch he is, especially the scene with his pathetic wife. The small-towners are all various little unflattering types--lazy, suspicious, gossipy, narrow-minded--not exactly an ad for rural life. Karloff's maid seems mute except when she suddenly whispers one word. There's a city doctor who comes on as an antagonist, then gets converted into an ally by Karloff's evidence, and disappears from the movie! There's the wise caretaker, introduced in a surprising pan shot that begins with a black circus worker playing a trumpet for a dancing elephant and ending with the ape being provoked by the rotten trainer. The very ending, too, has a certain power if you meet the movie halfway. The trouble is, just as you're pulled into the simplicity and effectiveness of all these human scenes, along comes another scene with that apesuit to pull the rug out from under the movie's credibility. The ape is the worst thing about THE APE!
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