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The Ape

USA 1940
produced by
Scott R. Dunlap, William T. Lackey (associate) for Monogram
directed by William Nigh
starring Boris Karloff, Maris Wrixon, Gene O'Donnell, Dorothy Vaughan, Gertrude Hoffman, Henry Hall, Philo McCullough, Selmer Jackson, George Cleveland, I.Stanford Jolley, Mary Field, & as gorilla Ray Corrigan (= Ray 'Crash' Corrigan)
screenplay by Curt Siodmak, Richard Carroll, based on a play by Adam Shirk

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Adrian (Boris Karloff) desperately tries to find a cure for Polio, because both his wife & his daughter once died from it, & now he has found Frances (Maris Wrixon), an 18-year old girl who also suffers from Polio, who looks just like his daughter, so he wants to at least save her to make up to his dead wife & daughter.

But finding a cure for Polio isn't as easy as it sounds (& it doesn't sound easy), so Adrian has to jump onto every opportunity there is ... & opportunity soon arises when he is brought an ape trainer (I.Stanford Jolley) from a nearby circus that has been badly hurt by his gorilla (Crash Corrigan), who has subsequently burned down the circus & escaped, so instead of healing the man, Doc Adrian extracts some spinal fluid from him & injcts it into Frances.

Soon, Frances' health does really improve, but Doc Adrian has to realize he needs way more spinal fluid.

In an unrelated incident, that same night, the gorilla breaks into Doc Adrian's lab, but the doctor can overcome the beast. Curiously enough the doctor doesn't report this to the sheriff (Henbry Hall), who with a posse made up of townsfolks, has long been looking for the gorilla.

The following night, Mason (Philo McCullough), the local moneylender & arsehole, is killed by the gorilla ... & again, curiously enough, Doc Adrian has enough spinal fluid for an injection for Frances.

Soon, Frances is progressing steadily, not onlycan she feel her legs, she can even - if ever so slightly - move them, & even Doc McNulty (Selmer Jackson), a former colleague of Adrian who has since been suspecting him of the worst, is positively impressed.

Soon though,it becomes evident that Frances again needs more spinal fluid, while the sheriff suspects Doc Adrian more & more of housing the gorilla. Then one night, another one of the sheriff's posse is attacked by the gorilla, but can be saved when the gorilla is shot at.

With the greatest of efforts, the gorilla makes it back to Adrian's house, where the posse can catch up with him & shoot him ... but when examining the animal, they have to realize it was actually Doc Adrian in disguise. & breathing his last, the good Doctor can get a glimpse of Francis - who was so brought up by the whole affair that she stood up, forgetting all about her Polio - standing ion front of him, & he knows now he can die in peace.

 


Despite the wild premise, The Ape is rather different from Monogram's funniest, trashiest horror films: The pace of this film is deliberately slow, the gorilla does take up rather little screentime, & neither the script nor Karloff's performance represent Doc Adrian as the typical mad scientist, he is rather a well-meaning & friendly old man, but definitely misguided - but pure evil he is not.

This doesn't mean that The Ape is a groundbreaking, outstanding film, after all it is about a man dressing up as a gorilla in order to kill, but it's not bad, either.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD