The Ape Man-"Monkey Business" is Putting it Nicely…
The first movie on disc 2 of the Best of the Worst collection is The Ape Man, starring none other than the man who gave us the Dracula persona that has been mimicked untold numbers of times: Bela Lugosi!
Hey, we all screw up from time to time.
Not that I had high hopes that this turd would be good, but at least it was watchable, albeit EXTREMELY boring. Nothing really happens until about half-way through the movie, and I spent most of my time slapping myself like a lunatic to stay awake.
I just tell people I got into a fight at the local Magic: The Gathering tournament.
Lugosi plays Dr. James Brewster, a scientist who has gone missing. His photo is all over every newspaper in the city, and a goofy-looking man in a gray leisure suit directs a reporter to Brewster’s sister, Agatha. She is upset by her brother’s disappearance, and is accompanied by James’s colleague and friend Dr. George Randall. George rushes Agatha on, telling her he has something to show her.
Cut to Brewster’s house, where Dr. Randall reveals that Dr. Brewster has turned himself into an ape man. His mannerisms and appearance are that of a gorilla spliced with a human, but he still retains his personality and intelligence.
And a “thing” for bananas. Sorry, couldn’t help it.
Beyond this point it’s a lot of back and forth between the reporter, Jeff, and his camerawoman Billie as they make multiple (and pointless) visits to the house trying to catch up on the Galloping Ghost or Dr. Brewster’s whereabouts. They can’t really seem to decide.
At some point Dr. Brewster explains that he needs spinal fluid to change back, but it will kill whoever he takes it from(yeah, I know. Give ’em a break, it’s 1943). Dr. Randall refuses, and Dr. Brewster escapes with his gorilla sidekick to go find a victim. He breaks in to Randall’s house and kills the butler, taking his fluid and escaping.
Randall shows up at Brewster’s house and unwillingly gives him the injection. It works, but only temporarily. Brewster escapes again with his gorilla and goes on a city-wide killing spree.
I might point out that it is now a little ways past the halfway mark. Note: This movie is Seinfeld. NOTHING MUCH REALLY HAPPENS. In all seriousness, it’s not even suspenseful. In fact, I’m tempted to hit Youtube. But, I digress.
A.D.D. Sue me.
Anywho, the goofy man from the beginning continuously shows up in the most random places for no other reason than to guide the characters here and there. It’s like Ralph from Friday the 13th. You know, the “You’re all doomed!” guy.
Yeah, that guy. Just more annoying.
Eh, kick it back. Ralph was THE MAN!!
Brewster eventually kills Randall in a struggle in the basement. Jeff and Billie break into the house after hearing the gorilla in the basement howling and grunting, and Jeff is knocked out by Brewster. He takes Billie downstairs, and is about to kill her when the gorilla gets loose and attacks him. Brewster struggles with the ape but is strangled.
Billie manages to find the button that opens the door to the basement and flees with the gorilla in pursuit. He is stopped short by a hail of gunfire from the police officers that show up on the scene.
As they are leaving, Jeff and Billie catch the Goofy Dude in the car waiting on them. Jeff asks who he is, and he explains that he’s the author of the story.
VERDICT: Not Completely Horrible.
Sadly, this is the best movie I’ve seen in the collection so far. In truth, it’s not really TERRIBLE. It’s just less interesting that watching paint dry. Sense and Sensibility had more nail-biting, sphincter-grinding action than The Ape Man. Seeing the iconic Bela Lugosi do a role outside of Dracula was interesting, but it didn’t save this movie from being a compete yawner.
It’s like sitting in science class in high school.
The acting, outside of Lugosi, is bad even for the time. Jeff spends more time belittling Billie for being a woman than he does working on the story about the Galloping Ghost or Dr. Brewster. Funny how he makes snide remarks indicating how stupid women are, but he can’t make up his damn mind on what his story is on.
In truth, like I said earlier, the movie isn’t catastrophically bad. I can actually recommend it to those who are interested in seeing what Lugosi could do with s**tty writing, bad actors, and pacing that makes a Pinto look like a Ferrari. Would I ever watch it again? Not willingly.
Unless there is Dutch Apple Pie involved. Love me some Dutch Apple Pie.