The Ape Man (1943) – William Beaudine

Bela Lugosi headlines another titles in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies as I continue my journey through the chapter on Monstrous Apes.

This unusual little film, barely running an hour, tells the tale of Dr. James Brewster (Lugosi), who has a problem. It seems through some study, and research, and experimentation he’s transformed himself, somewhat accidentally into a half-man, half-ape, because SCIENCE!

Already slightly off his rocker, the eccentric scientist believes that only an injection of freshly drawn spinal fluid can serve as a cure. His fellow doctor, Randall (Henry Hall) refuses to help him, as his hunting for the fluid isn’t a stroll through the hospital, it may result in murder.

So, with his captive gorilla, the other monstrous ape in the film, in tow, off Brewster goes in a different kind of monster make-up in the search for a cure.

As great as Lugosi’s makeup is in this film, it really is pretty solid, the ape is, obviously, yet again, a man in a suit, and the story is, well,not very exciting. It’s actually pretty unengaging, and I wasn’t very into this film.

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Lugosi was great to watch, but there’s nothing in to this film. There’s a try at a newspaper story angle, but I just didn’t get caught up in anything that was happening. And for a film that only runs an hour, it felt a lot longer.

Going into this book, I know that not all of the films were going to be winners, but I was hoping that with someone like Lugosi, there would at least be enough to keep me interested, horrible ape suit or no.

There could have been something really enjoyably dark and macabre with this one but it was just so unsurpassingly dull.

There was something about Lugosi’s makeup that for some reason put me in mind of the work featured in the original Planet of the Apes. But even that wasn’t enough for me. I could imagine that at some point after its original release in the 1940s that it made the matinee circles, and may very well have disappointed viewers then as well.

I’m not saying there aren’t some cool ideas at work here, and the possibility of a solid tale, but this version isn’t it.

Still, I am enjoying my trip through DK Books’ wonderful Monsters in the Movies and I can’t wait to see what comes next, because no matter what, it’ll be fun (interesting or no).

Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy today and find something monstrous to watch tonight!

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