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The Ape
The Ape
Actors: Jessie Arnold, George Cleveland, Gertrude W. Hoffman, Henry Hull, Selmar Jackson
Director: William Nigh
Genres: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2002     1hr 1min


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Movie Details

Actors: Jessie Arnold, George Cleveland, Gertrude W. Hoffman, Henry Hull, Selmar Jackson
Director: William Nigh
Genres: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Alpha Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 06/04/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/1940
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1940
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 1min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY
Reviewed on 6/30/2011...
Researchers want to conduct research, chiefly for praise-worthy reasons like altruism and generating knowledge, but if they assume “the end justifies the means,” unfortunate consequences may result.

Boris Karloff stars as Dr. Bernard Adrian, a small-town doc whose sideline is free-lance research. His research aims to cure lower-limb paralysis, a debilitating outcome of polio. The gentle folk of the town rightly suspect him of kidnapping their dogs for experiments. But the doctor has moved on to drug trials on a human being. The doctor is using an unwitting young woman as a guinea pig in a study involving an investigational serum to make her walk. When a circus trainer has been injured by a grudge-carrying ape, the doctor goes off the ethical and moral rails. Ignoring the imperative “Do no harm,” the doctor kills the trainer for his spinal fluid, which he subsequently utilizes in the experimental serum for the young woman. This also raises questions of justice, as in harming one person to benefit another.

Definitely, silly things pop up in this typical mad scientist movie. I would argue, on the other hand, that the poverty-row studio Monogram did the public a world of service by producing this movie that makes thinking people ponder whether the end (a cure) justifies the means (conducting unethical research on human beings).

Movie Reviews

I Wonder if the Gorilla Suit Has Been Making the Rounds of H
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 10/04/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I love campy old movies featuring a guy in a gorilla costume, especially when the guy is supposed to be a real gorilla. A movie with a moth-eaten gorilla outfit is even better when paired with Boris Karloff as kindly Dr. Bernard Adrian.

Dr. Adrian has been diligently working on a serum that will cure paralysis. Unfortunately, the doctor makes his serum using human spinal fluid. Even more unfortunately, his "donors" need to be alive when he makes his serum. Most unfortunately, his "donors" do not survive the experience. Dr. Adrian would probably call the death of his donors an unfortunate side effect.

I guess the FDA had yet to enforce the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in the area that Dr. Adrian was living, because he was injecting his untested serum into Miss Frances Clifford (Maris Wrixon, "Meet John Doe" and 70 plus other film and television appearances).

Backing up a little, a circus went through town. One of the features of the circus was a gorilla. One of the animal keepers seemed to enjoy tormenting the gorilla. One of the rules of horror movies is never abuse anything with the potential to kill you. After taking care of business, the gorilla takes a stroll through town and then into Dr. Adrian's house, where the injured keeper was brought after the ape attack.

The ape keeps hovering about Dr. Adrian's house, and keeps killing. I guess the gorilla enjoyed killing the keeper and took it up as a hobby.

A bunch of stuff happens to the end of the movie. We get to see how kindly Dr. Adrian is. We see that Dr. Adrian's serum is not likely to kill Frances Clifford and it might even do some good. The townspeople think the good doctor is evil and we wonder whether the townspeople will burn him at a stake (I exaggerate). Since the townspeople are reluctant to run the doctor out of town and they are reluctant to burn him at the stake, they stalk the ape instead.

You are left with a bunch of questions that the end of the movie will resolve. Do they catch the ape? Does Frances Clifford enter a marathon? Do they will the gorilla suit to another movie? Incidentally, I am thinking this gorilla suit might have been bleached and used in "White Pongo," which also featured Maris Wrixon. So many questions for a movie that is so short. Also, does Dr. Adrian win some sort of prize for his miracle serum or a short trip to the electric chair?

This movie makes a real shot at having a clever ending. I thought the ending was one of the better ones in a horror movie from this era, even if it was somewhat predictable for modern audiences. I liked Boris Karloff as Dr. Adrian. Dr. Adrian was a rather interesting variation on the Jekyll and Hyde theme. The gorilla suit was cheesy and I wonder if the same Gorilla suit has been making the rounds of Hollywood for decades. The townspeople were stereotypical and seemed to be the townspeople from "Frankenstein." The result is roughly three stars. Fans of Karloff's early movies will probably enjoy this one. Fans of Maris Wrixon might also like this film. If you are following the progress of the gorilla suit in this film, you might be interested in this movie. Everyone else can just go ape somewhere else.

Good luck!

My Life Story...
Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein | under the rubble | 04/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Dr. Bernard Adrian (Boris Karloff) has been experimenting in his lab for years, trying to perfect a serum that will cure paralysis. Unfortunately, he needs human spinal fluid and the townsfolk think he's a nut. Thankfully, a circus comes to town, complete with animals. A vengeful trainer decides that torturing the go-rilla that killed his father is a dandy idea. This results in the ape escaping it's cage, wringing the trainer's neck, and lumbering away for it's obligatory rampage. The unlucky trainer is brought to Dr. Adrian for treatment, where he is summarily killed and becomes Adrian's first spinal fluid donor. Drawn by the trainer's scent, the go-rilla visits Adrian's place by crashing through the window. Adrian stabs the go-rilla to death, skins it, wears the go-rilla suit, and pretends he's the wacky ape out on a kill spree! This is fortuitous, as his only vial of spinal fluid serum rolled off the table and smashed on the floor. Now, he can knock off some locals and harvest their bodily yuck. Humanity is saved! THE APE is a fun little movie, kept interesting by Boris' amiable yet homicidal character. Yes, the ape costume is ridiculous, but hey, the budget was probably around 50¢. Just enjoy it..."
From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
Edward Garea | Branchville, New Jersey United States | 06/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Boris Karloff has always been one of my favorite actors and a double feature DVD is always welcome news. This DVD in particular contains one of Karloff's forgotten gems and possibly the silliest film he ever made."The Ape" (1940), made for Monogram, represents the nadir of Karloff's career. In the film he portrays a kindly doctor who seeks to cure ingénue Maris Wrixon of polio through injections of human spinal fluid. Of course, spinal fluid is difficult to obtain, particularly as the victim must be alive. Enter the solution to Karloff's problem. A circus ape escapes and breaks in to Karloff's home. Karloff kills the ape with a knife and skins it, sewing the skin into a costume. Since no one but Boris knows the ape is dead, Karloff dons its costume and goes out to kill townspeople for their precious spinal fluid. (Wouldn't it have been simpler just to buy a costume?) There is a hilarious scene with Boris running for home after one murder wearing the costume by carrying the headpiece. Simply precious. Directed by William Nigh, who directed Karloff in his "Mr. Wong" series, also for Monogram. To quote film critic Michael Weldon, "And you thought only Bela Lugosi made films this bad.""British Intelligence," made the same year for Warner Bros., is a taut, nifty spy thriller set in World War 1. A master German spy has been operating one step ahead of the British and the causalities are mounting. As his mission is extremely important to the German war effort, the Germans dispatch Margaret Lindsay (operating as a nurse at a British field hospital) to England as an assistant. It is there in the home of one of the British bigwigs that she meets Karloff, who works as the butler. Is Karloff the dreaded spy? Or is he a red herring to throw us off the track? Could it be someone else? The film will keep the viewer guessing until the last tem minutes. Directed by Terry Morse, who also directed Raymond Burr's scenes in "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" (1955)."