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The Ape [DVD]


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Scientist Dr Bernard Adrian is trying to cure a young woman's polio, for which he needs the spinal fluid from a human in order to complete the serum. Matters are not helped by a vicious circus ape escaping from its cage! Boris Karloff ... Dr. Bernard Adrian Maris Wrixon ... Miss Frances Clifford Gene O'Donnell ... Danny Foster Dorothy Vaughan ... Mother Clifford Gertrude Hoffman ... Jane, Adrian's Housekeeper Written by Adam Shirk and Curt Siodmak Directed by William Nigh

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
King Karloff 5 Jan. 2006
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on Amazon.com
THE APE is a badly made and badly written film, but one which I am happy to report is actually entertaining. It's badness makes it fun, which -- despite the existence of the phrase "so bad it's good" -- is actually a rare phenomenon in my experience.

To begin with, this is the first horror movie I've ever encountered that displayed the opening credits accompanied by happy, cheerful circus clown music. Forget dark, ominous, atmospheric orchestration which can set the mood immediately. Disregard all attempts to initially set the viewer in mind of deep hopelessness, imminent despair and slow lingering death. Play clown music! You're trying to scare me, but all I can think about are guys with big shiny pants jumping through rings of fire.

Anyway, the movie is about Boris Karloff as a mad scientist (he wears a white coat, has loads of test tubes and kills in the name of science), and his desperate search to find a cure for polio, the affliction which has prematurely ended the lives of his wife and daughter. He's working feverishly to cure the paralyzed eighteen-year-old woman next door -- Frances -- who reminds him of his deceased daughter.

But there's an interruption to Karloff's work. A big, mean, angry ape has killed its trainer and run away from the nearby circus (hence the goof-ball music in the opening credits). This disagreeable primate is killing and maiming loads of folks in this small town, and the bodies are making they way through Karloff's lab (he's the town's doctor, even though almost everyone thinks he's a nut). Karloff takes advantage of his good fortune by using these patients for experimentation purposes.

Soon, the ape breaks into Karloff's lab and things start getting really odd. Karloff kills the ape in self-defense. Then, realizing that his supply of corpses will dry up, he hollows out the body of the ape, wears it like a suit, and continues the ape's killing spree.

Now, depending on what you expect from bad movies you can either throw your hands up in complete disgust, or you can accept the movie's wonderfully goofy premise. Personally, I dug it, precisely because it's so fundamentally hokey. I know you don't need me to tell you this, but you simply cannot hollow out an entire ape and wear it like a Halloween costume. I mean, okay, maybe you can, but you wouldn't look like an ape. You'd look like a giant jackass with bits of dead ape wrapped around him. (Forgive me for assuming the male gender in that last sentence, but I'm thinking that the whole hollowing out an ape and draping yourself in its carcass is definitely a guy thing.)

I won't discuss any more of the plot. Partially, because I'd then be getting into spoiler territory, but mostly because the movie doesn't have any plot left. There are just a few annoying things left that I wish to mention.

Francis' boyfriend actually dislikes the idea of his girlfriend being cured because he doesn't want her to stop being dependent on him and also because, as he says, "I don't like things I don't understand."

Um, wow. I mean, I fully grok the natural suspicion one has towards new advances, but isn't the blanket rejection of all things he doesn't understand going a bit far? ("Sorry, can't drive into town; I don't understand that fangled internal combustion engine! ... No, no email for me; I never did get the hang of binary! ... What? A pickle? No, I can't eat them; I never figured out how they work either.")

And I'm sure his viewpoint was a great source of comfort to any members of the audience who actually were themselves stricken by polio. There shouldn't be a cure in the future, because there isn't a cure in the present? Forcing people to be dependent on other people is fine? They must have been outraged. They'd have walked out of the movie before the end if they'd been able to walk. (Sorry.)

There are some painfully sloppy moments throughout and many of them could have been corrected so easily that it gives the impression that the filmmakers simply didn't care. Take, for example, what is (very) arguably the film's most ludicrous scene. Karloff has just discovered a potion which is the cure for paralysis. He places the only drops of this previous fluid in a small, fragile test-tube. Which he sits down flat on its side onto an ordinary tabletop in his lab. Which then rolls off said table and smashes into tiny pieces on the floor.

As hilariously inept as this scene is (and you have to see the look on the faces of the actors to really appreciate it), it could easily have been fixed. You see, the very next scene at the lab is a sequence where the ape breaks in and smashes most of it before being killed. Wouldn't it have made more sense to have the ape itself smash up the test tube? (And it would have made the desecration of the monkey's corpse a little easier to understand too.)

Also, as a complete aside, I wish to question Karloff's credentials as a physician. During his early experiments with animals, he injects a paralyzed dog with a solution and then confidently states, "You'll be chasing bones in the morning."

I'm no dog expert, but dogs generally chew bones and chase cars. If a dog is chasing a bone, then either he's A) still paralyzed or B) left his bone in the glove compartment. (A third possibility exists, which is that the bone is still in the possession of its original owner, but I don't think this is something Karloff should be encouraging in his pets.)

The Digiview Productions version of this movie is not in good shape. The image is mostly decent, but the picture keeps jumping and the sound cuts off. It almost seems like three or four frames every few minutes just went completely AWOL. This problem affects some scenes more than others. Most of the movie is acceptable, but some passages are almost unwatchable.

Before leaving this movie, I'm going to reveal myself as a complete softy and say that the final scene between Karloff and his young patient is actually quite touching. (Ignoring the monkey costume, of course.) But in any event, I do recommend this as the proverbial fun, bad movie. Boris Karloff, guys in ape costumes, stupid townsfolk -- this movie's got 'em all!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A classic, underrated (bootleg) film. 1 Feb. 2014
By Joe Dusza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The Ape is an enjoyable film in my opinion, and this particular DVD is no exception. It has that classic black and white nostalgic feel that the older generations remember fondly. The audio quality and video quality is somewhat lousy considering the age of the film, but exactly that. It's to be expected. No problems there. Much is left to the imagination However, this is nothing more than a cheaply-produced bootleg. After looking at the cover, I was quite shocked to see that this actually is a factory-pressed DVD and not a DVD-R. I was even more shocked to see that the cover claims that this DVD was made in the USA. Maybe, maybe not. Don't judge a DVD by its cheap, grainy, and cartoony cover. From the artwork which contains a couple misspellings right down to the lousy silk-screening and lack of SID codes or matrix numbers on the disc itself, this release just doesn't look official at all. If it doesn't make sense then it's probably not true. Sticklers for clarity of the audio and video should probably steer clear, as well as those who are self-conscious about purchasing shady DVDs. I personally enjoyed it, but enjoyment is subjective.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Snapshot of Small Town Life 10 Aug. 2012
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
The Ape, 1940 film

The film begins with scenes of a circus, then a small town garage. Boys want to see the circus. They pick up stones, are they up to mischief? The sign by the house says "Bernard Adrian M.D.". Adrian has small dogs inside. Does he give the town a bad name? Should he be run out of town? The local money-lender wants to do this. Doctor Adrian has patients, one is Frances, a crippled girl. Her boyfriend Danny is an auto mechanic. The traveling circus brings entertainment and thrills to this small town. Trapeze artists are graceful. Doctor Adrian hopes his animal cures can help mankind. The great ape is restless because of ill treatment. A fire starts from a discarded cigar in the loose straw. Will the great ape escape? People move animals to save them from the fire but the circus burns down. [Did they have fire insurance?]

Man is the highest kind of animal. Doc Adrian will take spinal fluid from a dead man to inject into his patient Frances. An armed militia will hunt the great ape to protect the people in town. Mason wants a dispossession order served, but the Sheriff is too busy. Frances' legs feel very heavy. An accident breaks the vial of fluid! The ape invades Doc Adrian's house but succumbs to medical science. Mason shows his heartlessness towards his wife. [Will he become a victim?] Danny worries about Frances, she feels pain in her legs. Doc Adrian arrived in town during the paralysis epidemic. Doctor McNulty arrives to question Doc Adrian about his procedures. A young boy shoots his .22 at the ape! They tell the Sheriff about it. Could the coat of the trainer be attracting the ape?

Doc Adrian uses psychology to get Frances to move her legs. Can she walk? Sheriff Halliday gathers information on gorillas. They eat vegetables and generally hang out around one place. [Is that what makes them different from humans?] So they return to watch Doc Adrian's house. Will the ape return? The drama continues when the ape attacks Tommy. Tommy stabbed the ape. A shot drops the ape at Doc Adrian's door. There is shocking surprise! Frances gets out of her wheelchair to walk! So there is a happy ending to this story.

There is no explanation how Doc Adrian acquired a gorilla costume, or why he sacrificed men to treat a crippled girl. Was this symbolism for some higher political ideal? The background to this film tells about small town life when the circus came to town. The "paralysis epidemic" referred to poliomyelitis, the plague that threatened America (and other countries) in the 20th century. A book can tell you what caused it and the vaccine that prevented it in developed countries.
The writer Kurt Siodmak was famous for his scripts for many horror films of the 1930s. He modified many of the stories about vampires and werewolves that became Hollywood legends and part of popular culture.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Snapshot of Small Town Life 10 Aug. 2012
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The Ape, 1940 film

The film begins with scenes of a circus, then a small town garage. Boys want to see the circus. They pick up stones, are they up to mischief? The sign by the house says "Bernard Adrian M.D.". Adrian has small dogs inside. Does he give the town a bad name? Should he be run out of town? The local money-lender wants to do this. Doctor Adrian has patients, one is Frances, a crippled girl. Her boyfriend Danny is an auto mechanic. The traveling circus brings entertainment and thrills to this small town. Trapeze artists are graceful. Doctor Adrian hopes his animal cures can help mankind. The great ape is restless because of ill treatment. A fire starts from a discarded cigar in the loose straw. Will the great ape escape? People move animals to save them from the fire but the circus burns down. [Did they have fire insurance?]

Man is the highest kind of animal. Doc Adrian will take spinal fluid from a dead man to inject into his patient Frances. An armed militia will hunt the great ape to protect the people in town. Mason wants a dispossession order served, but the Sheriff is too busy. Frances' legs feel very heavy. An accident breaks the vial of fluid! The ape invades Doc Adrian's house but succumbs to medical science. Mason shows his heartlessness towards his wife. [Will he become a victim?] Danny worries about Frances, she feels pain in her legs. Doc Adrian arrived in town during the paralysis epidemic. Doctor McNulty arrives to question Doc Adrian about his procedures. A young boy shoots his .22 at the ape! They tell the Sheriff about it. Could the coat of the trainer be attracting the ape?

Doc Adrian uses psychology to get Frances to move her legs. Can she walk? Sheriff Halliday gathers information on gorillas. They eat vegetables and generally hang out around one place. [Is that what makes them different from humans?] So they return to watch Doc Adrian's house. Will the ape return? The drama continues when the ape attacks Tommy. Tommy stabbed the ape. A shot drops the ape at Doc Adrian's door. There is shocking surprise! Frances gets out of her wheelchair to walk! So there is a happy ending to this story.

There is no explanation how Doc Adrian acquired a gorilla costume, or why he sacrificed men to treat a crippled girl. Was this symbolism for some higher political ideal? The background to this film tells about small town life when the circus came to town. The "paralysis epidemic" referred to poliomyelitis, the plague that threatened America (and other countries) in the 20th century. A book can tell you what caused it and the vaccine that prevented it in developed countries.
The writer Kurt Siodmak was famous for his scripts for many horror films of the 1930s. He modified many of the stories about vampires and werewolves that became Hollywood legends and part of popular culture.
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