BRIDE OF THE MONSTER/THE APE MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bela-brideTHE BRIDE OF THE MONSTER/THE APE MAN: A MONSTROUS DOUBLE REVIEW OF BELA LUGOSI HORROR FILMS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. (1955) WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY EDWARD D. WOOD, JR.

STARRING BELA LUGOSI, TOR JOHNSON, TONY MCCOY AND LORETTA KING.

THE APE MAN. (1943) BASED ON THE STORY ‘THEY CREEP IN THE DARK’ BY KARL BROWN. DIRECTED BY WILLIAM BEAUDINE.

STARRING BELA LUGOSI, HENRY HALL, MINERVA URECAL, LOUISE CURRIE AND WALLACE FORD.

For me, these two Bela Lugosi sci-fi/horror B-movies were an absolute joy to watch back-to-back recently, despite the fact that neither film had been remastered or restored and the dialogue was almost indecipherable at times. And there were no subtitles…! Haha, yeah I know, what is this, the flippin’ Dark Ages?

Oddly enough though, even when I could barely make out what the characters were saying, the crackling in the background indicating the sheer age of the films and the fabulous old settings more than compensated for a few missed words of dialogue.

Both films are positively chock-a-block with creepy olde-timey atmosphere and they’re actually quite similar to each other, which is why I’ve chosen to review ’em together.

First, a word about the wonderful Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi (1882-1956). His portrayal of Count Dracula in the 1931 UNIVERSAL horror movie DRACULA is one of the four great screen portrayals of Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire in cinematic history. Period, as the Americans say.

Now I suppose you’ll be wanting to know what the other three greatest screen portrayals are, you nosy readers, you! Well, there’s Max Schreck in F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU (1922), and then there’s Klaus Kinski’s performance in Werner Herzog’s re-make of NOSFERATU in 1979. Last but not least, we have the handsome and charismatic Christopher Lee in the HAMMER version of the story, namely, DRACULA (1958). Did I leave anyone out…?

Those are in no particular order, by the way, as the lovely Dermot O’Leary might say when he’s announcing who’s going home and who’s survived to sing another week on X FACTOR. All of these guys are equally good and equally deserving of their place on the list.

But I definitely maintain that any list that doesn’t contain Bela Lugosi is not complete. Some critics have sneered at what they call the ‘hamminess’ of his performance in the 1931 film but you know critics. They’ll sneer at their own mothers for giving birth to them. ‘Four hours in labour? That’s nothing! Come back to me when you’ve done the full eighteen hours, WITHOUT drugs…!’

Don’t get me started on critics. All pricks, the lot of ’em, haha. Anyway, to the films now. Finally, says you. In each film, Bela plays a mad scientist who’s up to no good. In BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, he’s trying to create a race of super-people and uses folks he’s abducted from Lake Marsh, where he lives, to experiment on.

He still has amazing eye-power, just like he did in DRACULA, and he can hypnotise people using both his peepers and his long elegant hands, just like in DRACULA.

Anyway, in THE APE MAN, he’s only gone and turned himself partially into a gorilla by accident, the silly sausage. You know the way that happens…

In both films, he’s got a super-strong sidekick to do his dirty work for him and strong-arm people and stuff. In BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, this sidekick is the mute giant Lobo, played by Tor Johnson. In THE APE MAN, it’s an actual real giant ape. Well, it’s a man in an ape-costume, obviously, but you know what I mean. There weren’t too many real apes involved in the Actors’ Union back in the ‘Forties.

Whenever Bela’s character is in trouble or being threatened by people who object to being killed, as people sometimes do, the sidekicks creep up on the aggressor from behind and give ’em the old strangulation treatment. Problem solved.

Bela certainly seems to enjoy savagely whipping each of his loyal sidekicks, or maybe he just enjoys whipping, heh-heh-heh. Plenty of people do, after all.

In both films, he’s being stalked by nosy female reporter-types who endanger themselves terribly by snooping round Bela’s gaff. Silly girls. They certainly have it coming.

And what I find funniest about each film is that both young ladies, Janet Lawton the reporter from BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and Billie Mason, the stunning photographer with the razor-sharp cheekbones from THE APE MAN, are each threatened with a spanking by the men in their lives for foolishly and thoughtlessly putting themselves in harm’s way.

Whether Janet’s boyfriend Dick (now there’s a great manly ‘Fifties name!) or Billie’s concerned co-worker Jeff ever do take the young ladies in question over their respective knees and give ’em a sound thrashing on their tight-skirted behinds, well, sadly, we’ll never know.

It’s just a shame that we weren’t treated to the delectable sight of a couple of on-screen spankings, which by the way weren’t exactly unheard of back in the day. The minxy Billie Mason in particular actually smirked when she was threatened with a good old-fashioned paddling. Maybe she wasn’t at all averse to the idea, who knows…?

There’s a great scene in BRIDE OF THE MONSTER in which Officer Dick (Haw-haw, Officer Dick…!) is trapped in the swamp and being menaced by a genuine alligator. There’s also a giant octopus in the film who reminded me fondly of that media squid who was supposed to be able to predict the results of the Euros or the World Cup or something. Meh. Predicting the Lottery numbers, now that’d be worth something…!

My favourite character in THE APE MAN, aside from Bela Lugosi himself, was Bela’s sister Agatha Brewster, a ghost-hunter and expert in the paranormal. What a game old gal, going round the world inspecting old graveyards and haunted houses and publishing her findings in her books!

With a name like Agatha Brewster (even her real name of Minerva suits her right down to the ground), this feisty dame could’ve been a writer of mystery novels (like her namesake Ms. Christie) or even of torrid paperback romances, revealing the existence of a romantic and tender heart beating wildly beneath that flat sensible bosom.

She also would’ve made a great suffragette. I can just see her grappling with the chin-strapped bobbies and threatening ’em with all sorts (and not the liquorice kind, either!) if they don’t immediately unhand her person like a good fellow.

The end of Bela’s life was sad and you might just feel a hint of that sadness in both of these films,  especially in BRIDE OF THE MONSTER which was one of his last ever movies.

But they’ll leave you with a nice warm fuzzy feeling in your insides too, and the feeling that someday, sometime, maybe when you’re old yourself, you’ll want to watch them again.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

creature-from-the-black-lagoon1THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A BONE-CHILLING DOUBLE HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. (1954) DIRECTED BY JACK ARNOLD FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. STARRING JULIE ADAMS, RICHARD CARLSON, RICHARD DENNING, ANTONIO MORENO, BEN CHAPMAN AND RICOU BROWNING.

THE INVISIBLE MAN. (1933) BASED ON ‘THE INVISIBLE MAN’ BY H.G. WELLS. DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE JR.

STARRING CLAUDE RAINS, GLORIA STUART, WILLIAM HARRIGAN, UNA O’CONNOR, DUDLEY DIGGES AND E.E. CLIVE.

Now this is the stuff. This is the real thing. This is what I call horror. Ladies and gentlemen, here we have two superb examples of classic UNIVERSAL horror/sci-fi films that will stand the test of time even if the earth and the film industry survive for another millenium.

Do I sound emphatic? Damn straight! You won’t find better examples of the classic monster/sci-fi/horror genre if you search for the rest of your lives. You don’t have to search at all, though. You don’t have to look any farther than these two wonderful movies. Let’s take a closer look. We’re going deep underwater now so goggles on, people…!

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is the story of a sort of half-man, half-fish creature whose quiet existence in his Amazonian lagoon is shattered when a bunch of nosy marine biologists and geologists show up looking to capture him, dead or alive.

These fancy-pants scientists are a disgrace. Tossing cigarette butts into the beautiful lagoon, strutting around half-naked on their boat THE RITA in their pristine ‘Fifties bathing suits and terrorising the Creature, who doesn’t seem to have really killed or hurt anyone until the scientists showed up.

Yes, I’m totally on the side of the Creature. He just wants to be left alone, or to maybe kidnap a beautiful woman with pert ‘Fifties bosoms and spirit her away to his underwater lair to possibly attempt some sort of fishy sexual congress with her. That’s not too much to ask. How dare those pushy scientists come to the Creature’s home and start shoving him around? It’s simply not on.

Mark and David, the two male leads, both look like they’re auditioning fot the part of Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. With their broad hairy chests, muscular hairy thighs and snug-fitting briefs encasing their pert ‘Fifties buttocks, they’re pure ‘Fifties beefcake, each of them struggling to be the Alpha Male in the situation.

And if they’re the beefcake, Julie Adams (playing Kay) in that marvellous white one-piece swimming cossie is surely the cheesecake. The scene in which the smitten Creature swims directly underneath Kay, looking up in wonder at her while she pirouettes and undulates gracefully in the water, blissfully unaware of his presence, is definitely my favourite one.

Kay also spends much of the film turning round suddenly and shrieking her lungs out when she spots the Creature looming towards her. The poor Creature must have been half-deafened by the end of the film.

The Creature, or the Gill-Man, is now as iconic a UNIVERSAL HORROR monster as Frankenstein’s Monster or the Wolf-Man. He’s a miracle of modern costume-making. I sincerely hope that his wonderful body-suit is hanging in a museum of cinematic memorabilia somewhere, preserved for all eternity. (Like the cane from CITIZEN KANE…!)

I love the Creature. The film’s ending is too, too sad. Damn you, sexy ‘Fifties science-type persons…! I hate you all so much.

THE INVISIBLE MAN couldn’t make a more impressive entrance if he tried for a month of Sundays. Wandering through the tiny Sussex village of Iping in the middle of a snowstorm with his head swathed in bandages and dark glasses, he cuts an unforgettable figure as he enters the Lion’s Head Inn and demands food and shelter.

Of course, the good people of the Lion’s Head haven’t a clue that Dr. Jack Griffin is a (literally) mad scientist who has discovered how to make himself invisible through the use of certain dangerous drugs.

Now, unkowingly driven insane by these drugs, he plans a ‘reign of terror’ over an unsuspecting world. He wants his fellow scientist Dr. Arthur Kemp to help him kill, steal and generally wreak havoc undetected purely, it would seem, for the sheer hell of it but the good doctor sensibly doesn’t want anything to do with such an insane plan.

Dr. Kemp calls the cops and reports The Invisible Man for, well, being The Invisible Man. As Griffin already has a rap sheet, as they call it, for killing a copper, the bobbies come on the run.

There ain’t no bobby like an English bobby. The good solid old-fashioned English bobby, with his helmet and his chinstrap and his thick luxuriant moustache that simply screams reliability, is a staple of these old classic horror films and, truly, the films wouldn’t be the same without him.

The coppers in THE INVISIBLE MAN are an absolute joy to watch as they set about questioning the villagers and trying to capture The Invisible Man. The Invisible Man, meantime, is dancing down country roads maniacally singing ‘Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May’ while his own- nuts, that is- are clad only in a pair of trousers…

Yes, there are some terrifically funny (and technically astonishing and ground-breaking) scenes as The Invisible Man, who can only be seen when clothed, takes pleasure in freaking out everyone he meets by partially appearing and then disappearing altogether while moving various objects around the place willy-nilly just for kicks.

He’s mischievous, malicious and hell-bent on mayhem while under cover of his veil of invisibility. The bobbies have their work cut out for them trying to bring this nudie Invisible Man to justice. Even if they do catch him, they’d better be careful which body part they grab hold of. Maybe they should be wary of anything that’s sticking out…

Second only to The Invisible Man for sheer entertainment value is Una O’Connor playing Jenny Hall, the hysterical landlady of The Lion’s Head. She gives a magnificent performance, conveying mostly in shrieks her displeasure at the continuing presence in her respectable establishment of the decidely un-respectable Invisible Man. Gawd love her, she’s a decent woman, she is. She don’t need no Invisible Men cluttering up the place and giving it a bad reputation. Lawks-a-mussy and all that…!

Claude Rains, in his first American screen appearance, excels as the Naughty, Nudie Invisible Man. Gloria Stuart is on duty as the dreamy-eyed ‘Thirties beauty who has zero luck in trying to convince Jack Griffin to renounce his evil ways. This film is wickedly funny, whereas I personally find THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON very moving and sad.

Have I convinced you to watch (or re-watch) these marvellous films from a bygone age? If I have, great. If not, I might just set the Creature or his buddy The Invisible Man on you. You’ll never see ’em coming…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor