Legends of Horror: The Ape Man

October 31, 2015 at 8:51 pm Leave a comment

Legends of Horror indeed. When it comes to a legend in the genre, few are as big as Bela Lugosi. Known mostly for his portrayal of Dracula in the 30’s. As time marched on, roles dried up and he was in a lot of b-movies, providing box sets like this large amounts of material. A lot of people consider the Ed Wood movies his low point. I would like to argue that point. Movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen Or Glenda, and Bride of the Monster have stood the test of time, for better or for worse. Those movies I find wildly entertaining to this day. The Ape Man may have been more successful or received a better critical reaction but it was far less enjoyable than any of those movies. At least in the Ed Wood movies I could hear the horrible dialogue. In this movie, it sounds like they recorded the audio to wax on a device invented by Thomas Edison. I don’t know if the print was just not well perceived or the transfers were bad but much of this movie is unwatchable due to unintelligible audio. The audio improves as the film progresses but I was lost for a good portion of this movie. Not that the plot is terribly complex.

This film does not stand the test of time. The story is formulaic and uninteresting. In the 40’s, it was a lot easier to draw an audience to a theater. For this movie, they must have just said “Come is Bela Lugosi as THE APE MAN! You’ll thrill and chill and spill!” The movie is built completely around the spectacle of seeing an incredible creature. There is something very carny about that. Then they plug that creature into the formula that worked at the time but doesn’t really work right now. You have a mad scientist with his experiment that runs amock. You have the intripid cub report, who will do anything to get a scoop. You have the strong jawed law man who is going to put a stop to all this non-sense. Then you have the damsel in distress. The damsel ends up in distress. The cub report and the law man put their differences aside to find the secret lab. The horrible experiment turns against its master. The strong jawed law man saves the girl and maybe sticks it to the commies for good measure. Roll credits. The only difference in this movie is that their is a strange man who is luring about a few scenes here and there. He even saves the girl at one point from being jumped by The Ape Man in a dark alley. In the end, he turns out to be the screenwriter. He introduces himself and says “Nutty idea, hey?” Rolls up the window which says “The End” and that’s it. Points for being clever, I guess.

Bela Lugosi plays a mad scientist who has accidently turned himself into an ape. He has an ape assistant instead of a little person or a hunchback, like some of his other movies. He needs spinal fluid to reverse the process. But another scientist won’t help him. So Bela and his ape friend go on a killing spree. They collect as much spinal fluid as they need and go back to the other mad scientist to get an injection. He refuses again and gets killed. The intrepid female reporter follows Bela home then gets capture. She almost has her spine drained when the ape assistant can take no more of the killing and comes to her rescue. Just then, the police show up to shoot the ape.

I am even more in love with the idea that all of these movies were Bela plays a scientist are all interconnected in the same universe.  This is an idea that could be made into a series of graphic novels or a netflix series. Of course, you would have to do some rewriting to make the movies more palettable but I think it would really work. This could all have been somehow connected to Bela Lugosi Meets the Brooklyn Gorilla. I would love to see how he gets from this point of being an ape man to the point where he is menacing some poor woman in Scared to Death. What happens to all of his assistants between movies? Do they all meet horrible fates like Spinal Tap drummers? This is a notion that needs to be developed.

The Ape Man is unwatchable. The audio is a deal breaker. It’s a terribly dated film that won’t give any film student incite on how to make a decent movie these days. They don’t use the camera or lighting to tell the story. Stories just aren’t told like this anymore. Most normal movie goers will be put to sleep by this film. Even bad movie fans will have a hard time staying awake for this one. Avoid this film.


Entry filed under: Horror. Tags: , , , , .

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