Directed by William Beaudine [Other horror films: Four Shall Die (1940), Lucky Ghost (1942), The Living Ghost (1942), The Ape Man (1943), Ghosts on the Loose (1943), Voodoo Man (1944), Crazy Knights (1944), The Face of Marble (1946), Spook Busters (1946), The Feathered Serpent (1948), Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966), Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)]
With a title like this, one could be excused for thinking that the film sounds bad. Of course, given that the movie is legit terrible, that is an assumption that is well-founded.
I can live with horror comedies from the bygone eras. Movies like One Body Too Many and You’ll Find Out both had their strong points, and while this one came out later, I was hoping that maybe something here would work to it’s benefit.
Which didn’t really happen whatsoever.
I’ll give credit to both Duke Mitchell and Charlita, who have a decent chemistry together, and even mild props to Bela Lugosi. Lugosi wasn’t really good in this movie, but with the story they had to work with, he probably did the best with the material that he’d have been able to. Muriel Landers was an okay character, but with as often as she was being fat-shamed (which must be the height of comedy in 1952), it’s not easy for her to really stand out positively.
The fly in the ointment (and to be fair, the whole of the movie may be a fly, but that’s neither here nor there) is Sammy Petrillo. I don’t know Petrillo (apparently he was a stand-up comedian in the vein of Jerry Lewis), and I’m sure he was a good guy, but here, he has to be one of the most obnoxious creatures in existence. From his annoying laugh to shrill voice, not to mention pretty unimpressive lines to work with, Petrillo really tested my patience, and I think that was a test that I failed, though you may be hard-pressed to find many with a passing grade.
As one can imagine, the story here wasn’t really that interesting. Lugosi played a scientist doing experiments on evolution (so basically a rehash of his Murders in the Rue Morgue role), and he eventually turns one of the characters here into a gorilla, who then begins to sing. I was already deeply disinterested when this scene came around, so when the gorilla began singing one of the two uninspired songs in the movie, I was pretty much done.
I don’t dispute that someone somewhere out there could enjoy this for some reason. Maybe the atrocious conclusion felt innovative to them, or maybe they liked the hammy nature of the terrible humor. If someone got more out of this than me, that’s great. For me, I just couldn’t get into this at all, nor did I find most of this particularly good in any way.
One thought on “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)”