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The Ape Man

   

The Ape Man (1943) starrring Bela Lugosi, Wallace Ford

In The Ape Man, a mad scientist’s experiments have transformed him into a half-man, half-ape. With the aid of his gorilla sidekick, he’ll murder as many people as he needs to reverse it!

Review

Bela Lugosi’s The Ape Man is a cheesy monster movie with an interesting premise. The villain is a mad scientist, whose experiment has gone horribly wrong. He’s been mutated to a human-ape hybrid. Oddly, this gives him a strange bond with his gorilla, an experiment animal. He’s desperately trying to cure his condition. But to do that, he needs human spinal fluid. Fresh spinal fluid.

Bela Lugosi as The Ape Man, in his laboratory

At one point, after a treatment, he’s able to stand erect for the first time since his accident. And he’s ecstatic! It’s the hint of hope. And frankly, the audience feels for him. But, his changes are more than skin-deep. He’s brutal, and short-tempered. He even lashes out at his own sister. She’s the only person standing by him, after his assistant refuses to help any further.

The protagonists are newspaper reporter and photographer, who are set on the trail of the “missing” scientist by an unknown person. This same person rescues someone later on, and in an odd moment is responsible for “The End” credits. I won’t say more about him, but it’s an early example of breaking the fourth wall.

Cast

  • Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Black Cat) … Dr. James Brewster. The mad scientist, whose experiments on himself turned him into a human-ape hybrid. And he desperately wants to be human again. No matter how many people he has to murder …
  • Louise Currie … Billie Mason. Investigating photographer.
  • Wallace Ford (The Mummy’s Hand) … Jeff B. Carter. Investigating journalist.
  • Henry Hall (Voodoo Man) … Dr. George Randall. Brewster’s associate and assistant, who draws the line at murder. And Brewster murders him when he breaks a bottle of the precious spinal fluid.
  • Minerva Urecal (The Corpse Vanishes) … Agatha Brewster. Brewster’s sister. She looks out for him, and paints the evil that he does in the best possible light.
  • Emil Van Horn … The Ape
  • J. Farrell MacDonald (Superman and the Mole Men) … Police Captain O’Brien
  • Wheeler Oakman … Police Detective Brady
  • Ralph Littlefield … Zippo
  • Jack Mulhall (The Three Musketeers 1933) … Reporter
  • Charles Jordan … Police Detective O’Toole
  • Ernest Morrison (Ghosts on the Loose) … Copyboy

Trivia

  • Laurel and Hardy regular Charlie Hall has an uncredited appearance as Barney the photographer.

Editorial review of The Ape Man courtesy of Amazon.com

Conducting weird scientific experiments, crazed Dr. James Brewster, aided by his colleague Dr. Randall, has managed to transform himself into a hairy, stooped-over ape-man. Desperately seeking a cure, Brewster believes only an injection of recently-drawn human spinal fluid will prove effective. With Randall refusing to help him, it falls to Brewster and his captive gorilla to find appropriate donors.

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