Monday, 3 August 2009

Bride of the Gorilla

Title: Bride of the Gorilla
Director: Curt Siodmak
Released: 1951
Staring: Raymond Burr, Lon Chaney Jr., Barbara Payton, Paul Cavanagh, Tom Conway

Rating: 2 / 5
Plot: After killing his elderly employer, plantation manager Barney Chavez (Burr) steals his former employer’s wife Dina (Payton). However the murder was witness by the elderly housekeeper, who curses Barney turning him into a Gorilla as soon as night falls.

Review: I should really start by saying how disappointed I was with this latest jaunt into obsure film randomness, especially as I thought this film would provide me with some camp old school hijinks, especially with the prospect of seeing a man in a ropey looking gorilla suit on the rampage, which really is pretty much the exact opposite of what I found here, which might have usually been followed by feeling of pleasant surprise…... But alas it was not to be.

Released back in 1951, it’s original working title was “The Face in the Water” which would have been more of a suitable title and perhaps lead to slightly less disappointment for myself, but being made in the 1950’s and how producers back then loved to hype their movies, it went for the slightly more dramatic title. Intrestingly though Siodmak was also be responsible for writing the screenplay for the classic Universal Monster “The Wolfman” (1941), which has recently been remade with Benicio Del Toro getting the furry treatment.

“Bride of the Gorilla” is certainly at the least a throwback to more innocent film making times, especially when you consider that the jungle shots are nothing more than a plant heavy soundstage and a whole heap of B-roll animal footage, though the budget does stretch to one snake which supposedly is to blame for the death of the Klass Van Gelder (Paul Cavanagh), even though the snake basically just stares at him, before slithering away, so unless there is a species of snake which can do this that I don’t know about, it’s a pretty ropey cause of death for the doctor (Conway) to claim, as I’m sure that punch shaped bruise is nothing to do with his death and certainly brings into question what sort of medical training he has had if any! I know we are in the jungles of South America but is he really the best they could find? This also makes it all the more of a wonder how Klass managed to stay so healthy with him as his personal doctor. Still thanks to questionable post mortem Barney is free to marry Dina, who also doesn’t seem overly bothered by the recent death of her elderly husband, even if she was cheating on him with Barney, she never really seems to question what happened to him, making her either a really dumb blonde or just one with questionable morals.

So with Barney now cursed by the one person, who knows what has happened, the elderly housekeeper, whose strange loyalty to Klass is never really explained and it’s from here that the film starts to rapidly go downhill as it seems that the curse not only turns Barney into a Gorilla by night, but also apparently turns him into a moody and angst ridden arsehole, obsessed with the jungle and escaping to it whenever he is given an opportunity. Rather than adding to any tension in the film, it sadly has the opposite effect here, dragging the film down and making the character of Barney all the more unlikable, which when you consider that none of the characters are particularly likable, certainly makes it all the harder to sit through the film, which even with it’s brief running time, it still feels strangely bloated and lacking in the quick pace that many of it’s fellow B-movies process, which could also be down to the constant feeling of Déjà vu, as we are forced to sit through scenes which seem all to familiar to ones which we have already seen and as the prospect of seeing that ropey Gorilla suits grows all the more distant, it is hard not to despair slightly, after all that was kind of the main draw, instead we only get a few scattered glimpses of furry arms and one full length shot of the horrible gorilla suit, which sadly is the only time we get to see it in it’s entirety, even though you will be assuming that Siodmak is showing us only these brief glimpses, before the dramatic final reveal which never happens. Due to this it feels almost as if Siodmak was going for more of a Psychological thriller than a monster movie, despite having all the pieces to make a great monster film, with superstitious locals all claiming that Barney’s gorilla form is some supernatural creature, but still Siodmak ignores all of this and continues with his attempts to make it a thriller, which doesn’t work out and only makes for a tedious viewing experience.

While it’s true Siodmak will be best remembered for “The Wolf Man”, “Bride of the Gorilla” remains a mark on his career in much the same way that “Piranha 2: The Spawning” is on James Cameron’s, as it fails to be fun even at the most campy base levels and certainly not worth seeking out, despite being ready available to watch online, with the film being in the public domain, but unless your really struggling for something to watch, you’d be best looking to get your B-Movie thrills elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elwood! I'm sorry you didn't like Bride of the Gorilla. It sounds lame. I enjoyed your comparison at the end, however, in that sometimes directors can make that movie that just doesn't do it like their other work. I mean, I watching Monster Dog, fucking Monster Dog, last night and Carlos Aured is credited as producer. The man made movies with Paul Naschy for crying out loud! What are ya gonna do?


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