DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies continues allows me to continue my journey through the jungle of monstrous apes, and this time brings me a couple of familiar faces in a very familiar story.
Raymond Burr and Lon Chaney Jr. star in this film that sees Burr playing Barney Chavez, a plantation manager deep in the jungle who falls for Dina (Barbra Payton) the wife of the owner. She loves him too, and is willing to stay with him, even after evidence suggests that he may have murdered her husband (he did).
But Barney falls under a curse. A curse of the jungle, and since we’re in the chapter on monstrous apes, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for what he turns into. I think it’s a sly nod to have Chaney Jr. as the police officer investigating Chavez, considering he’s had some experience with transformations himself, having been the original wolfman. A point that is subtly nodded to in dialogue near the end of the film.
Unfortunately, beyond that, the film doesn’t add a whole lot of new subject material to either werewolf lore or on in this case, that of the rampaging gorilla that Chavez becomes at night when the call of the jungle becomes too strong to resist.
It’s surprisingly fun, perhaps because of the bad script and the very recognizable actors in the lead roles. I mean sure the gorilla is yet another man in a suit, and yes, it’s basically the wolfman story without the regret, as Chavez isn’t sorry for what he’s done, but he is paying for it.
It was a real delight to see Burr in a role like this, he’s always been such a heroic kind of actor, but he plays this part with gusto and while not villainous, he’s definitely murderous and plays it to the hilt.
And while Payton is an attractive woman, it’s hard to believe that every man in the film is in love with her, even though that’s what they claim. Except for Chaney’s police man, he’s all business, and seems to enjoy not being in too much makeup this time around.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a great movie, but it sure is a lot of fun! So don’t shy away from this one, if you want a different, albeit predictable take on the usual werewolf tale, check out this one. Revel in the star power! Gasp at the horrendous script! or…
… pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something truly monstrous to watch tonight!