Serviceable DVD of Ed Wood-scripted gorilla-love oddity
Surfink | Racine, WI | 07/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bride and the Beast, co-produced by Adrian Weiss (ex B-movie editor/producer) and (father?) Lewis Weiss (ex silent and cheapie western producer), and scripted by Edward D. Wood Jr., never really replicates the manic delirium of Wood's directorial efforts (Plan 9, Glen or Glenda, Night of the Ghouls, etc.) Unlike those films, the fun here results not so much from breathless incompetence as from the ludicrousness of the overall concept. Bride and the Beast is a campy, immensely entertaining melange of jungle thrills, domestic melodrama, and past-life regression/reincarnation hokum, with a touch of implied bestiality thrown in to give it that Woodian je ne sais quoi. Lance Fuller moves up from his supporting role in the equally enjoyable jungle-horror opus Voodoo Woman to star as Dan Fuller, big-game hunter, who returns home to his jungle "mansion" with newlywed bride Laura, played by gorgeous, sultry Charlotte Austin (Gorilla at Large, Daddy Long Legs, Frankenstein 1970). Johnny Roth is houseboy/guide Taro, one of those Natives of Indeterminate Ethnic Makeup (apparently a member of that B-movie caste who refer to white men as "bwana," Taro's skin color varies throughout, he has Caucasian features, and wears a turban). Veteran monkey-suiters Steve Calvert and Ray "Crash" Corrigan play the gorillas. The excitement starts as soon as the honeymoon begins: Laura reveals her fur fetish to Dan; she and his full-grown pet gorilla, Spanky, are strangely affected/attracted by each other; Laura has disturbing dreams about gorillas; Spanky breaks out of his cage during a thunderstorm to menace (?) her; Dan awakes, shoots and kills Spanky, then later takes Laura to a shrink who hypnotically regresses her and determines that she was a gorilla in a previous life! (Hypnotic regression was a hot topic at the time because of the famous Bridey Murphy case; see Corman's The Undead, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Fright, etc.) Progressing from a man-eating tiger hunt in the jungle to Laura's abduction by a pair of horny gorillas (one is blonde like White Pongo) and final showdown at Bronson's Canyon, Bride ultimately surprises with an incredible ahead-of-its time 'downbeat' ending. Crazy as it sounds, Bride and the Beast really isn't a knee-slapping Bad Film atrocity; in spite (or perhaps because) of the offbeat subject matter I actually found it quite absorbing, yet hugely entertaining on a camp level as well. The younger Weiss's actually fairly competent, if pedestrian, direction keeps the plot moving along briskly, and the substantial stock footage is integrated into the movie rather well for a cheapie of this type. (People with animal-cruelty sensitivities may be offended by a few clips.) The musical score is by an apparently slumming Les Baxter (famous for his 'exotica' LPs and numerous AIP soundtracks) and Harry Thomas (Frankenstein's Daughter, Night of the Ghouls) did the makeup. Highly recommended for fans of cheesy jungle thrillers, gorilla freaks, and Ed Wood completists. Makes a great co-feature with Curt Siodmak's Bride of the Gorilla.
With the Allied Artists catalog in DVD limbo due to Warner Home Video's apparent indifference and foot-dragging, this will likely be the only disc release of this movie in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the transfer appears to be from a 16mm source print, and while the tonal values range from very good to excellent (a little worse in some of the stock footage) and the black level and shadow/highlight detail are pretty acceptable, the print has a slightly soft, dupey look; no worse than a typical TV print, but probably a bit of a letdown to those spoiled by the typically tack-sharp Image/Wade Williams DVDs. Fortunately, physical damage is limited to some light speckling and spotting, leaving the picture very watchable overall. The mono audio is clear and the included 35mm trailer looks generally excellent, if also a bit soft and exhibiting some light speckling and lining. Six chapter stops and a nicely done if somewhat skimpy gallery of about a dozen stills and lobby cards (accompanied by some jarringly inappropriate music) are also provided. Another 'bonus' is a pretty awful (bad acting, unfunny 'comedy') 3.5-minute sequence from the aborted Wood-scripted Beach Blanket Bloodbath, featuring Forrest J Ackerman and Bobbie Bresee, which completists may care about but that will probably not impress anyone else. Also (dis)gracing the disc is an interview with and some shorts by one David "The Rock" Nelson, whose miserable home videos (that have insanely been compared by some to Ed Wood movies) are so embarassingly putrid they make Beast of Yucca Flats look like Citizen Kane. A complete waste (I fast-forwarded through most of it) and definitely INessential; consider yourself warned. In total an acceptable if less than ultimate package that will have to tide gorilla fans over till someone digs up and transfers some crisp 35mm elements (don't hold your breath)."
Gorilla My Dreams: A Mildly Amusing Ed Wood Disaster
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 08/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Laura Carson (Charlotte Austin) has just married big game hunter Dan Fuller (Lance Fuller.) On her wedding night she finds herself strangely attracted to Spanky, a gorilla gone bad that Dan keeps locked up in a basement cage. Before you can say "Ed Wood wrote this," there are gun shots, nightmares, hypnotism, and Dan's unhappy discover that bride Laura may be the reincarnation of a gorilla queen! Can you dig it?
Now and then a bad movie becomes unintentionally hilarious, but most of the time bad movies are simply bad. BRIDE AND THE BEAST actually teeters between the two, and this is largely due to the two leads: even in the face of producer-director Adrian Weiss' obvious lack of talent, Austin and Fuller prove unexpectedly competent, and they actually manage to hold the worst of the dialogue at bay. What this means, however, is that BRIDE never self-destructs in the ludicrous way of such films as PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE--and in consequence it isn't so much unintentionally hilarious as it is unintentionally amusing in a mild sort of way.
The film is full of absurdities. Dan Fuller's basement, where the ill-fated gorilla Spanky is caged, has a refrigerator, but illumination is provided by torch. Servant Taro (Johnny Roth, in what seems to be his only film role) is very obviously a white man in bad "native" make-up; he runs around saying "Bwana" a lot. There is a lot of canned wild animal footage, shots of Africa that look suspiciously like shots of South America, and men in bad gorilla costumes. And Ed Wood being Ed Wood, he just can't resist writing references to angora sweaters into the script.
The print is mediocre, but it is worth pointing out that it was probably never very good to begin with, and the DVD release comes with several bonuses of no interest. Fans of cult films, and especially die hard fans of Ed Wood, will enjoy it--and for their sake I give it three stars. But just about every one else should give it a miss.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
LOW BUDGET JUNK.....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 08/24/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I waited years to see this little epic and when I found it available on DVD, I snapped it up. Then I watched it. Well. I should have just given up. But no, I have a fondness for low budget horror movies. However, "Beast" is a curious failure and it broke my heart that it wasn't even enjoyable on a mere camp level. Lance Fuller brings new bride Charlotte Austin home and introduces her to his pet ape he keeps in the basement. He's a big game hunter. Austin and the ape develope an attraction for each other (no, really) and soon the gorilla is sneaking up to her room. Fuller catches the beast making passes at her (really!) and shoots it dead...to Austin's dismay. She goes under hypnosis from Fuller's friend and discovers she was a gorilla in a past life. Then they go on safari and she allows a big gorilla to abduct her and never goes back to Fuller. Way, way too much jungle stock footage kill the story. There are moments of hallucinatory silliness, yes, but the movie just doesn't hold up on it's own. I was so bummed out that it was, indeed, a "bomb" all the way that I walked out the next day and gave it to some guy I saw sitting on the curb. Now that's sad. And I love gorilla movies! Where's "GORILLA AT LARGE" on DVD? It's got Anne Bancroft getting carried away, it's in lurid color AND has Charlotte Austin in it! "Bride and the Beast" is too cheaply made to enjoy."