BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Ape (1940) - Blu-ray Review

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The Ape (1940)

Watch polio get pulverized by a primate!

When a circus burns down, a mustached Boris Karloff, as Dr. Bernard Adrian, finds himself battling a loose ape in his laboratory.  What? What? What.  You heard me.  It’s one of the wildest scenes - and maybe the best scene, too - in The Ape which is now on blu-ray thanks to a BRAND-NEW 2K transfer from Kino Studio Classics.  

"Uneven as warped floorboards and dangerously dull"


Directed by William Nigh, who helmed a number of Charlie Chan flicks for Monogram Pictures and was one of their go-to guys for cheap D-grade entertainment, The Ape is the final picture in the 9-film contract Karloff had with Monogram Pictures and, as it details just how the kindly doctor started murdering people in a small town while wearing the carcass of the dead ape, it can be - idea wise - pretty disturbing. 

Unfortunately, the horror film is pretty damn boring and only true cult enthusiasts will survive the first 10 minutes.  Oh, it tries to be entertaining but the comedy falls flat, the drama is melodramatic, and - for a horror film - there’s certainly not a lot of it being handed out here.  The Ape (1940)

The Ape, written by Kurt Siodmak and Richard Carroll, is almost immediately burdened by way too many dull characters who carry badges and go on endless hunts for the escaped beast through a small town.  The time spent on their planning when it comes to drawing the beast out - as they do not know it is already dead - is time consuming and it draws much of the attention away from Karloff, who has only a meek housekeeper (Gertrude Hoffmann) to confess his sins to.

Because, when the body count starts piling up, their hunt for the ape turns into a hunt for the doctor obsessed with helping Miss Frances Clifford (Maris Wrixon) walk again.  They don’t know it yet.  Even as his calming nature is quickly turning heads.  His patience grows shorter and his desperation to help her lengthens.  That’s what causes him to put the monkey suit and start killing.

She needs human spinal fluid!  And she needs it now!

Uneven as warped floorboards and dangerously dull, The Ape is now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

2/5 beers

The Ape (1940)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber Classics
Available on Blu-ray
- October 20, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
:
Audio:
Mono PCM
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Horror legend Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Black Cat) portrays a kindly doctor who seeks to cure a young woman of polio through injections of human spinal fluid. Of course, spinal fluid is difficult to obtain, particularly as the victim must be alive. When a circus ape escapes and breaks into Karloff’s home, he finds the solution to his problems—or does he? This creepy classic was directed by William Nigh (Mr. Wu, The Mystery of Mr. Wong) and co-written by Curt Siodmak (I Walked with a Zombie, The Wolf Man) and Richard Carroll (Five Came Back), with atmospheric cinematography by Harry Neumann (My Gun Is Quick).

Video

For all its hiccups in images, this 2K transfer (in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio) is surprisingly strong. It might be unstable in some of the flickering images, but the black-and-while transfer is somewhat crisp and filmic with some visible abrasions. The women look stunning and the sets – while meager – are interesting enough for this low-grade B picture. Considering the damage to the print, this is – for the time being – probably as good as it gets as shots of a circus burning down are recycled and a laboratory destroyed by a man in a monkey suit.

Audio:

The audio is presented in an adequate Mono PCM track. Nothing spectacular is heard, but dialogue is front and center.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • We get two solid commentaries on this release.  One from Tom Weaver, which is a blast, and another from Richard Harland Smith.

Special Features:

Fans who scoop this release up will also get a collection of trailers.

  • Trailers

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 2/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 2/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3/5 stars

The Ape (1940)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
62 mins
Director
: William Nigh
Writer:
Curt Siodmak and Richard Carroll
Cast:
Boris Karloff, Maris Wrixon, Gene O'Donnell
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
These cold eyes have watched a thousand men die screaming!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I don't like things I can't understand."
Theatrical Distributor:
Monogram Pictures
Official Site: https://www.thehustle.movie/
Release Date:
September 30, 1940
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 20, 2020.
Synopsis: Horror legend Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Black Cat) portrays a kindly doctor who seeks to cure a young woman of polio through injections of human spinal fluid. Of course, spinal fluid is difficult to obtain, particularly as the victim must be alive. When a circus ape escapes and breaks into Karloff's home, he finds the solution to his problems—or does he? This creepy classic was directed by William Nigh (Mr. Wu, The Mystery of Mr. Wong) and co-written by Curt Siodmak (I Walked with a Zombie, The Wolf Man) and Richard Carroll (Five Came Back), with atmospheric cinematography by Harry Neumann (My Gun Is Quick).

The Ape (1940)

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