'The Ape" was Boris Karloff's last picture for Monogram studios until 18 years later when he would return for "Frankenstein-1970" in 1958. It's obviously a very low budget horror film and the worst of the six that Boris did while under contract for Monogram but it is Karloff so it deserves a closer look. This review does contain SPOILERS.
Boris Karloff as Dr. Bernard Adrian
Maris Wrixon as Frances Clifford
Gene O'Donnell as Danny Foster
Dorothy Vaughan as Mother Clifford
Gertrude Hoffman as Jane, Dr. Adrian's housekeeper
Henry Hall as Sheriff Jeff Halliday
Director: William Nigh
We first get a glimpse of the town brats who are whining about not having enough funds for the visiting circus's freak show. They think they're real tough! (Okay, maybe the kid showing off his biceps and sucking lemons is.)
Instead of doing something productive they decide to head over to the scary doctors house to pummel it with rocks! (The doctor just happens to be Boris Karloff so I'm thinking "Oh, bad decision")
After scaring off the kids with just one look we get a glimpse of his office which has potential. He's working feverishly on something (I'm hoping it's a potion for shrinking kids)
We get our first look at Jane, the trusty housekeeper. She's delightful as she floats around making weird faces and taking orders without one sound. (I'm guessing she's a mute which really is the best kind of assistant when you're up to no good)
We go over to the local pharmacy where everyones standing around gossiping about the doctor. Apparently he's been acting a bit weird since the polio epidemic took most of the town folk several years ago and now they suspect he's doing weird experiments on small animals. Judgmental Harpies!
Doc stops off to visit a lovely young girl and her mother. He shows great compassion and concern for her as she's paralyzed like his wife and daughter were before they passed away. He's been working on a cure for her which she appears to be very pleased about.
France has a beau who stops by to visit. He isn't to thrilled with the doc trying to cure her and makes his disdain for the doc known. (I get the feeling it's a case of beautiful girl depends on local nice guy but if she becomes independent he's TOAST!)
The doc convinces Frances to head on over to see the circus with her beau, Danny. That sounds like a lot of fun except for the fact that the beau has her loaded into the back of an old pickup while in her wheelchair! (Please get your legs back Frances so you can kick this dolt in the backside!)
She makes it to the circus and looks quite beautiful considering she just went down an old dirt road being wind blown and knocked around. All dressed up in their Sunday finest ....
to watch THIS! I'm guessing when the circus comes to a rural town it's a pretty big occasion. Weeeeee, I wan't a funnel cake!
Even the brat pack found enough money to get in. What a lovely evening which can't last for long since this is a horror film after all.
Oh, look at Boris! He's locked himself in his office so he can experiment on a poor little doggie.
The circus is over and the elephant gets serenaded with Auld Lang Syne! Seems like a logical song choice to me. (Excuse me while I pause the film and dance around in my New Years Eve crown)
We get our first glimpse of a giant ape who's being poked with a stick. Apparently the same ape had previously killed the guys brother. I'm left wondering why you would continue to have an animal perform around the public after mauling then killing a human.. That would never be allowed to happen today in real life now would it (Sorry wandered off topic and hope you aren't reading this Sea World)
YEP! Always a great idea to allow killer animals close to humans. The poor trainer gets mauled but survives
.The ape is out of there and on his way out he manages to set the big top on fire. He's a real menace! I didn't write this script but how in the world does an ape strike a match
The entire circus burns to the ground and all of the animals escape. Luckily we don't have to worry about things like that happening in real life either! (Ooops, sorry Bronx Zoo)
All of a sudden Doc Karloff is back in favor when theres a mauling in town. They drag the trainer right over to get fixed up.
You took a Hippocratic oath doc! I've seen that look before and it's always spelled trouble.
The trainer has obviously seen Boris in films before too because he's scared to death right now as he begs for his life. You see the doc needs his spinal fluid to treat a paralyzed young girl. Brace yourself buddy, I have a feeling you're gonna need that porta pot in the corner shortly!
Theres a meeting down at the sheriff's office and a sense of urgency that they need to find that killer ape before the town panics. (No word on if the snakes, tigers, elephants and Joe Joe the Dog Faced boy have the town folk worried at all!)
I hope you enjoyed this review! (Snort) WOW! This was awful and I mean that in the nicest way. I looked for a great film to do a snarky review of but lets face it sometimes you get caught up in one and hope for the best. It's like a beauty queen riding in a parade atop a pinto! Even though this film had Boris all of his talent just couldn't save it. I hope he left gum under his trailer table on the way out of the studio after this mess.
For any of you still here, Thanks for reading this and lets hope I don't get banned from blogspot!