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James L. Wolcott
Mary Ann Webb,
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Deep in the South American jungle plantation manager Barney Chavez (Raymond Burr) kills his elderly employer in order to get to his beautiful wife (Barbara Payton). However, an old native witch witnesses the crime and puts a curse on Barney, who soon after finds himself turning nightly into a rampaging gorilla. But is his transformation real or is it all in his head? Written by
Jeremy Lunt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Dina goes searching for Barney in the jungle for the first time, we see a quick shot of a leopard climbing up into a tree. Although this scene is supposed to be outdoors (the jungle), both the leopard and the leaves around him are casting shadows on the "sky" behind them. The sky is obviously a wall or backdrop. See more »
Police Commissioner Taro:
This is Jungle - lush, green, alive with incredible growth - as young as day, as old as time. I, Taro, Police Commissioner of Itman County, which borders the Amazonas River, know it as well as any man will ever know it. Isn't it beautiful? But I have also learned that beauty can be venomous, deadly, something terrifying, something of prehistoric ages when monstrous superstitions ruled the minds of men, something that has haunted the world for millions of years rose out ...
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Don't be deceived by the prominent billing of Lon Chaney Jr or the advertising that stresses all the horror in this little yarn. In point of fact, Mr Chaney is confined to a rather small role. He's neither our heroine's husband nor lover. He's not even the gorilla! Mr Chaney stays firmly on the right side of the law for once, while Raymond Burr in his usual confidently cool, surly, self-assured manner enacts the title role opposite the legendary Barbara Payton (here looking extremely attractive, thanks to flattering photography and most seductiveif rather inappropriate by jungle standardscostumes. She speaks her lines with more than adequate conviction too).
Tom Conway walks through his part with his usual, blandly smooth impeccability, whilst Carol Varga's eye-catching native girl gives Barbara a fair run in the beauty stakes. Woody Strode is also on hand as a policeman who has a key scene with a black-robed, rather sinister servant-lady.
As a director, Mr Siodmak takes great care that every word of the marking-time hokey dialogue he has contrived for his script, be clearly and distinctly heard. His actors are coached to speak carefully and to enunciate with great deliberation so that not one time- consuming cliché be lost. In other respects too, Siodmak's handling has not a great deal to recommend it. Even at 65 minutes, the pacing appears remarkably slow, even tired, listless, dull. Except for a few shots of the camera tracking subjectively through the undergrowth and the jaws of the gorilla flashing momentarily right in front of the lens, Siodmak does little to capture audience interest in his tale. He focuses more of his attention on the bride than the gorillawhich is fine for us Barbara Payton fans, but may leave horror and fantasy devotees feeling rather short-changed.
All told, from a horror perspective Bride of the Gorilla turns out as a tame and tedious affair that signally fails to deliver the frights and the terror promised by its script and its advertising. We see only a few flashes of the gorilla (an obvious impersonation by a stuntman in the same well-used monkey suit the costume company has been renting out for twenty years) and there's no impressive special effects work either. Most of the movie perambulates around three or four sets and was obviously lensed on an extremely tight budget. (In fact, it was reportedly shot in ten days).
Bride does have one other important factor (aside from Miss Payton), in its favor, however. It was superbly photographed by Charles Van Enger. If you love glossy photography, Bride of the Gorilla is your meat.
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