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I really don't know what some of the more snobbish reviewers expect when they sit down to watch movies such as this; "Gone With The Wind"? Maybe "Citizen Kane"? How about something that was produced last year for tens of millions of dollars? These were films produced in the thirties and forties with a low budget, by studios who did not have access to special effects and high cost productions as the majors did. Still, the films are highly enjoyable with good plots and usually fine acting. They are gems and classics in their own way despite the financial shortcomings they had to endure. "The Ape Man" is such a movie. The great Bela Lugosi and a talented cast give us a good story and a fine movie. Bela's character has, unfortunately, made himself part ape. Alas, another scientific experiment gone awry. He needs a special "spinal serum" or return to 100% human ways and has to kill to get it. He does and, well, you'll have to see the film to find out what happens. This is not a movie to be ridiculed or laughed at, but to be enjoyed. "The Ape Man" is a classic to those who enjoy these type of films.
One of Bela Lugosi's low budgeted Monogram films, THE APE MAN is entertaining in a so-bad-it's-good way. It's a riot to see poor Bela, so down on his luck by this point that he needed to act in anything just in order to eat, swaying and crouching about in a bad wig and beard, acting like he's "part ape" due to an experiment gone awry. And trying desperately to find some human spinal fluid to inject into himself so he may be able to straighten up again and lose his simian tendencies. If not for the stamina of Lugosi, the film would be intolerable. But he puts more energy into this crazy role than it deserves and keeps us entertained by being both effective at some times and unintentionally humorous at others. This one's not particularly well paced, and we've got the typical "hardnosed reporter/photographer" deal getting in the way of things every so often. There's also a decidedly screwy explanation offered at the end of the day for all these strange goings-ons which is not appreciated by this viewer. But there are far worse ways to spend a Saturday Night at the Monster Movies. **1/2 out of ****
Bela Lugosi acting apish, and doing a good job. Minerva Urecal acting spooky, and doing a VERY good job. The other players do an equally good job given their respective roles. Of course there is that one guy. Some things need to be played for laughs, and I suppose that was especially true during a time when it looked as if Nazi hoards would over run the world. The makeup is fun. Some of the sets and props are recognizable from other movies, one in particular from Bela Lugosi's "Bowery at Midnight". That aspect makes for a fun kind of trivia or scavenger hunt while watching this flick. A real downside with this movie is the quality of the sound track. Very poor. But, the plot is fun, and must've worked well enough at the time because they actually did a not-so-sequel, using the title in part but not the plot line or characters, the next year in "Return of the Ape Man". As far as I know they stopped there. No "Revenge of the Ape Man" or "Son of Ape Man". I suppose they decided to play it safe. Otherwise they'ed have ended up with a whole planet of the apes.
The Ape Man is a story about a mad doctor who has been experimenting with apes and has slowly turned himself into a kind of ape man through an injection of sorts. The details of the experiment as well as with the plot are often never stated or incredibly vague. To be certain, poor Bela wants spinal fluid for regressing the advancing stages of apeness, and he and his gorilla friend kill with this goal in mind. Bela lurches and swings his arms as the ape man. The movie was made by Monogram and is evidently cheaply made, but the film is entertaining as a Lugosi film. He is the important character and even though his dialogue and actions are highly doubtful given the circumstances, Bela comes off as a menacing mad man. I wish I could say something good about the rest of the cast. The gorilla is fake as can be, the male and female reporters whose lives are in peril at the film's climax have no acting savvy whatsoever. Bela's sister is rather good as is their doctor friend, but remember this film is a cheapie and looks it. Nonetheless I would recommend the die-hard classic horror fan to see it.
"Some Spoilers" One of the many films that Bela Lugosi made for
Monogram Pictures as well as among the other bargain-basement Hollywood
studios that he worked for during his "Lost in the Wilderness", as well
as heroin addiction, phase of his career during the 1940's and early
50's until he kicked his drug habit. It was also around that time that
Bela met the great cult and bad movie director Edward Wood and made the
movies, that we all know and love him for, that made Bela Lugosi the
legend that he is today some 50 years after his death.
"The Ape Man" is pretty standard stuff in the movies that studios like Monogram put out back in those days. A prominent scientist Dr.James Brewster, Bela Lugosi, makes a major discovery about the link between man and primate but not being able to test the serum that he discovered on human beings, for it's against the law, tests it on himself where he becomes a half man half ape "missing link". Brewster finds out together with his associate in the discovery Dr. George Randall, Henry Hall, that the only thing that can bring him back to normal is human spinal fluid that if extracted from a person will instantly kill him. Dr. Brewster with the help of an ape, that he has in his laboratory, goes out at night and kills a number of people in order to get the valuable spinal fluid. All goes well until Dr. Randall refuses to participate any more in Dr. Brewster's mad scheme where Dr. Brewster in an insane rage kills him.
Later in the movie Dr. Brewster with the help of his partner, the ape, kidnaps beautiful newspaper photographer Louise Currie, Billie Mason, but when Dr. Brewster is about to extract Billie's spinal fluid the love sick ape, who took a liking to Billie, attacks and kills Dr. Brewster during a long and bitter struggle. The ape chases Billie all around the laboratory until Billie finds the secret passage, with the help of her fellow reporter and boyfriend Jeff Carter (Wallace Ford), and escapes into his arms as the police, who Jeff called for help, who blasts the ape with a hail of bullets that kills him. As the movie is ending we see both Jeff and Billie go off into the sunset, it was really moon-light, and I guess lived happily ever after.
There's nothing really that great about the movie "The Ape Man" unless, like me, you're a Bela Lugosi fan and Bela does lift the movie up a couple of notches making it if it's not scary both cheesy and campy. Louise Currie is very nice to look at and the rest of the cast did a very good job with the material that they were handed. The guy who played the ape, Emil Van Horn, made a monkey out of himself wearing a gorilla suit with him flinging his arms and grunting during the entire movie. Van Horn's or the ape's fight in the end with Dr. Brewster, as Billie was trying to get away from the carnage that resulted from it, was both exacting and suspenseful.
What really annoyed me about the movie was that skinny and goofy looking reporter, Jack Mluhall, who popped up in almost every scene in the film as well as acting like a jerk and spoiling any tension and surprises that there were in the movie. Mluhall also got somewhat of an ego trip as the overbearing and annoying reporter in telling those of us watching, at the end of the film, that it was he who wrote the story that we just saw on the screen. At least someone like Alfred Hitchcock, a far better movie maker then Jack Mluhall, who was in almost all of the movies that he directed had nothing more then a cameo appearance in them. This guy wanted to be the star of the movie!
"The Ape Man" could have been a better film than it is. A doctor (Bela Lugosi) is accidentally turned into an ape man after an experiment goes awry, causing him to resort to a series of murders so that injections of his victims spinal fluid can possibly return him to normality. A reporter and a camerawoman (Wallace Ford and Louise Currie) arrive at the doctors home to investigate and the mystery begins to unravel. "The Ape Man" could have been a more enjoyable film, but Lugosi's walking around like an ape (which is unintentionally embarrassing) and awful, monotonous canned background music (which was used in Monogram's "Ghosts on the Loose" the same year) take somewhat from the overall enjoyment of the film. Wallace Ford and Louise Currie work well with each other and having them toss wisecracks back and forth is a welcome addition to the script. "The Ape Man" is not a terrible film, but not a great one. You could do a lot worse for an hours worth of viewing.
I thought this was basically an OK movie, although lacking in
originality for the most part. In a Jekyll & Hyde genre, Bela Lugosi
plays Dr. James Brewster, a scientist who injects himself with the
spinal fluid of an ape and who then find himself becoming an ape. The
only antidote is human spinal fluid, and, well, Brewster goes out to
Lugosi's performance was not bad, really, although I couldn't help wondering why someone with the decidedly English name of James Brewster spoke with such a pronounced Hungarian accent, especially when his sister Agatha (played by Minerva Urecal) spoke perfect English. I know - nitpicky! (Perhaps becoming an ape affected his voice!) The movie never really offered an explanation of what great medical marvel the spinal fluid of an ape was supposed to achieve, although at the start of the movie Brewster's friend Dr. Randall (Henry Hall) assures Agatha that it was a marvel. The ape make-up for the supposedly real ape (Emil Van Horn) was bad, so you can imagine how hokey Lugosi's makeup was. I will say that Agatha, a dedicated ghost hunter, injected a bit of humour (perhaps unintentionally, although it's hard to tell) from time to time as she tries to throw reporters (played by Louise Currie and Wallace Ford) off the trail.
Overall I enjoyed this short (64 minutes) movie and because it had a few twists here and there I give it a 6/10, which might have been higher had it not been overall so predictable as a retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story.
Decade of 40! It's the most suitable time for a horror b-movie , isn't it ? But how could this be successful ? Let's try the simple one shot way! William Beuadine and Bela Lugosi , the lord of horror owns the first role. Well , Bela Lugosi acts a very bad scientist (a role that we've so many times , we loved it , we got used it in , but we never borrowed of it) Dr. James Brewster , who transforms Emil Van Horn (`Sleepy Lagoon') to Ape. Police Captain O' Brien is the role of the classical J. Farrell Mac Donald (who played in 294 movies . Of them we remember especially the `Trail Of Shadows' , F.W. Murnau's `Sunrise' , `Four Devils' , `Dangerous Female' , `Sporting Blood' and the `Phantom Killer') attends to catch Dr. James Brewster . Lugosi and Farrell Mac Donald surrounded of a wonderful cast , ideal for a b-movie , just like this one . Buise Currie (`Here Comes The Boogie Men') , Wallace Ford (Tod Browning's `Freaks' , `The Mummy's Hand' , `The Mummy's Tomb' , Alfred Hitchcock's `Spellbound') , Henry Hall (`The Ape') , Minerva Urecal (who was played again the first role with Bela Lugosi at the films `The Corpse Vanishes' and `Ghost On The Loose') , the classical Wheeler Oakman (who was played in 195 movies , from whom we chose the `Ghosts On The Loose' with Bela) , Jack Mulhall (who has not only played in 314 movies but is also the producer of Madame Spy) , Charles Jordan (Cat People) , Charlie Hall (who made some short roles in movies with Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel). The offhand script that Karl Brawn (Phantom Killer) wrote with Barney D. Sarecky (The Phantom Killer) is exalted by the master of b-movies , William Beaudine . If you're not fans of this kind , you will have a good time , but if you are fans of b-movies , you shouldn't miss the `Ape Man'
I'm so pleased that everyone who bothered to comment on this film did so in a positive light. It really is a lot of fun and,for what it's worth,the Alpha DVD release is the best print I've seen to date,and is extremely affordable,although I wouldn't be adverse to spending top dollar for,oh let's say,a Criterion release. Well,I can dream,can't I?
The main reason I decided to watch this is because it has an appearance by former Our Ganger-and current East Side Kidder at the time-Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as some associate of someone at a newspaper building. Oh, and I was also pleased to see someone from my favorite movie-It's a Wonderful Life-in this one: he's J. Farrell MacDonald who I know played the guy who castigated George Bailey for hitting his father's tree with his car before he then thinks Bailey-in the Pottersville sequence-is crazy for thinking he doesn't know what the name of his town is! Anyway, he's a police captain here. So this is one of Bela Lugosi's poverty row movies of the '40s, huh? Well, as pretty entertaining as he may be here as a man with an ape face, I found myself mostly bored watching this thing but then I'm up really late with a sleepy demeanor right now so that may be why. Anyway, The Ape Man may be worth a look for any Lugosi completists out there but nobody else.
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