Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Ape (1940) A photo review

'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!)

Unfazed by all of the craziness around town, Doc pays a visit to Frances to check on her progress.  (I know why he's chipper but the town doesn't or his grateful patient.  He just sucked the spinal fluid out of the trainer).

He's convinced her that a surgery will cure her and give her the ability to walk again.  She's s adorable in her naivety and these two have such a sweet bond.

No sooner does the doc get back to his office he gets a visitor.  (This ape can light a match but apparently he can't turn a door knob since he flies in through a window)

Boris obviously hasn't lost his touch! He overtakes the ape then rips his spine open with a knife.  (I'm really frustrated because Nigh didn't have the housekeeper appear so I could say "Jane, meet ape"!)

This is a 1940 Horror Film so heres your one and only 'bloody scene" Enjoy!  Nothing is said but I assume the doc has had an epiphany.  (If you haven't nodded off yet you'll see what he's up to a bit later...well in a perfect world we all will)

Lets check back in with Frances and Danny.  She's trying to convince him that having Doc Adrian inject her in the spine is a grand idea.  He's thinking to himself that he's seen this character before and he was grunting and sporting neck bolts....Awww, Danny just don't find yourself alone with him out in a field of daisies and you'll be fine.

Just in case you forgot there was a killer ape on the loose, the sheriff and his band of misfits are on the lookout.  Oddly enough the blood hounds keep coming back to the docs place.

When you're up to murder and mayhem it's always a good idea to live in a town where the sheriff is clueless and trusting!  Sheriff  Not So Bright thinks it's odd that the blood hounds keep circling back to docs place.  As he ponders how odd that is the doc stands there with a bag of syringes and drugs in plain sight.  (This would be the perfect town to live in if you're a criminal or say...killing humans for their spinal fluid)

Seeing a man in a lab coat surrounded by test tubes makes him look smart unless of course he's building a meth lab which is NEVER okay!  Have you seen that Bronx Zoo cobra Boris

Back to Danny and Frances who has the look of "Please let me walk again so I can run like the wind away from this idiot! He put me in the back of a pickup and took me to a circus which BTW burned to the ground..  (I want to run away too Frances, just hang in there!)

Danny's gettin nervous!  He knows Frances won't hang around once she can walk so he tries one last time to convince Boris Karloff to cool it with the fancy spinal fluid experiments.

The coroner visits another doc from a fancy medical society.  Apparently things are a bit suspicious since the trainer and his brother both died from puncture wounds to the neck.  Thats not possible for an ape to pull off. Well I beg to differ since he lit a match then found his way to Boris Karloff's place without a Hollywood star map.

I'm a bit frustrated so stay with me here! Doc visits Frances again to check on her progress....Hmmm, Nigh I realize this film is low budget but you could give us a few scenes where Frances does undergo treatments!  Frances has a bit of feeling in her legs and she's able to wiggle her feet now.

She's happy and momma's happy. Well, thats just fantastic! I would be happy too but theres a killer ape, two dead trainers, a circus full of animals running around then some bratty kids looking for change out there.  Don't even get me started on the fact that BORIS KARLOFF is injecting your spine with dead human spinal fluid missy.

Doc Karloff runs into the medical society guy who is his ex employer.  Apparently the doc left after he was unable to cure patients from the polio epidemic.  People around town are whispering about his odd behavior, the animal experiments then the trainers dying of odd wounds.  (When you live in a small town with a party line the truth can get twisted! many times did I pick up the telephone as a kid only to overhear my neighbor plotting a murder when in fact she was just outraged that Lucille still had her Tupperware bowl)

Doc convinces his ex boss that he's been working on a cure for polio and he can prove it.  They head over to see Frances who is now unable to wiggle her toes but she has feeling so everything is okay.

The ape is back!

Because kids in small towns have guns and they're fearless the ape gets shot. (If that Bronx Zoo cobra shows up he's history)

Gossip central is having another town hall meeting! (I don't see Lucille anywhere so I'm assuming she was uninvited over the Tupperware fiasco.)  (A word of advice Lucille...just burp it and return it before the next bake sale if you want to be seen in that town again)

The boys are back to brag about shooting the deranged ape.  I hope that sheriff gets fired because this is just embarrassing.

Well, Well! Jane's back! Your employer is weird and theres a whole lot of crazy goin on Jane so stop wandering around answering the front door to everyone who knocks mkay

Sheriff Not So Bright is back and he's still baffled by the fact that the blood hounds keep circling the house.  Boris is good so he explains that they're probably just tracking the trainers bloody coat.  Works for me and the sheriff who's on his way again.

Please do something scary or creepy Boris because I know you didn't agree to this film to walk around in a bad  mustache and a nice suit.

He goes back to see Frances and although she hasn't had any operations she's now able to stand briefly. (Okay it was suggested she was getting an operation but I'm pretty visual and since this a is PHOTO blog a scene or two is always helpful)

Doc is thrilled that Frances is making progress so the human spinal fluid is working.  Thats GREAT Boris but could you glue some bolts on and stomp around a bit for old times sake

Jane may not speak but I know that look and she wants something scary to happen too.

The posse is back outside but don't fret, they are so clueless that Boris could sacrifice 30 virgins on the front lawn and they would find a way to explain it away.

Lets have the sheriff show up at the door one more time to ask about the trainer and the ape and how he's just taking direction from Nigh to do things that are no longer necessary for a pay check.  "Hi Jane, stop letting this guy inside please"

The sheriff directs his posse led by Pa Kettle to guard a perimeter.  These lucky guys get to guard the place where the trainer was found.  I hope ya get your spinal fluid drained boys.

The ape is lurking which makes me happy although let me just put it out there that this is a movie and it's not like theres an actual cobra on the lose in the city.  Whew, okay it's almost over!

The ape kills the lacky then disappears. (The film is so darkly made that I couldn't get the kill shot with the 'ape' stabbing the guy in the spinal cord)

Frances is outside enjoying her evening when she notices the ape headed for Doc Karloff's place (He conveniently lives right across the street)

Ape heads over to the doc's because "Oh, cripes your guess is as good as mine!"  I'm about ready to shoot him myself at this point! It's just too bad I don't own any firearms and just have a rain stick that I use to defend myself! (Don't judge. theres a cobra on the loose so let's focus on that)

Wyatt Earp hears Frances screaming so he get himself all locked and loaded.

I'm getting a bit suspicious that the ape can unlatch a gate with a  mortal wound but let's just see how this ends.

The ape takes a shot before he can reach the door.  Don't be sad, I'm not sad! Let's be confused together.

Frances is having a freak out over the ape heading for the doc's house.

The ape gets unmasked and low and behold it's Doc Karloff!  Apparently he realized he needed more human spinal fluid so what better way to collect it than to pose as a 7 ft ape who's wanted dead or alive by EVERYONE!  Way to stay inconspicuous Boris!

Frances pushes her way through the stunned crowd.  She still doesn't understand that the good doctor killed other humans just to experiment on her.  (Well, Frances you still have your beauty and that well made afghan)

Realizing the afghan made her look 80 she throws it aside and begins to walk.  No more pickup bed rides for you Frances!

Doc Boris dies happily as he realizes that his super terrific cure involving the death of other humans worked!  Ride like the wind Frances because these people will turn on you on a dime.

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!