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Return of the Ape Man (1944) - Blu-ray Review

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Return of the Ape Man (1944) - Blu-ray

3 beersSixty minutes of Bela Lugosi brow-beating back a recently thawed cave man with a rolled-up piece of paper that is on fire?  Oh, man.  Where do I sign up for this zany B-movie madness?  Return of the Ape Man is rich, I tell you, super rich.  Just wait until the cave man sits behind the piano and, with a faraway look in his eyes, begins to play the instrument.  Such tone!  That melody! 

Olive Films returns this month with a new Monogram Pictures offering.  Return of the Ape Man, starring Bela Lugosi and John Carradine, is another three dollar-budget offering from the little studio that could upon its perch in Poverty Row.  Directed by Philip Rosen (Charlie Chan in the Secret Service), the film concerns itself, at the very beginning at least; with the newspaper notice that a notorious tramp that has gone missing.

We are already on edge. 

While murder is a dirty word, we shouldn’t put it past these two scientists to flirt with disaster as they develop a new way to control another person.  Lugosi, as the lead scientist, won’t back down from his desire to reanimate this frozen boy-toy who is in bad need of a good shave and an even better brain.  And, as quick as that, he figures out what he needs to do in order to take the intelligence of his assistant and transplant it into the battered brains of his rare find. 

Such a simple procedure.

Of course, we know who is to blame for these errors in judgment and, as the missing vagrant from the beginning of the movie has to do with the darker side of the experiments Professor Dexter (Lugosi) and his assistant Professor John Gilmore (Carradine) are carrying out, we also know that they are willing to go the distance in order to see this through to its very end.  And that is a very dangerous thing to realize.

Dexter will stop at nothing to bring life back to the lifeless body of a recently discovered frozen prehistoric caveman.  Forget about any moral obligation to the well being of his patients.  He might start small, with a kidnapping or sorts, but he will reach the summit of his own expectations and bring new life to very old bones, even if it kills the innocent in the process.

And to think that Gilmore was ready to give up!

With a schlocky swagger and a mystery that won’t let up, Return of the Ape Man is a strong entry into the whole B-movie craze of Monogram’s classic run of low-grade entertainment.  It is endlessly entertaining and features a solidly unhinged performance of pure horror and lunacy from Lugosi. 

Interestingly enough, the film features Frank Moran in the role of the Ape Man after the film’s original star, George Zucco, took ill.  Zucco might have appeared in all the adverts for the film, but it is Moran who nails both the delivery and the courage required to fulfill the duties and demands of the script as he goes toe-to-toe with an outlandish Lugosi.   

Fast, cheap, and endlessly entertaining, The Return of the Ape Man is hair-raising fun for the entire family this fall season.  It is now available on blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films and, complete with its prison bar-bending ways and means, should be a key feature in any b-movie lover’s collection.

Bela Lugosi. John Carradine. Together again?  Yes, please.

Return of the Ape Man (1944) - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
60 mins
: Phil Rosen
Robert Charles
Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, George Zucco
: Horror
Theatrical Distributor:
Monogram Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 17, 1944
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 31, 2017
Synopsis: Return of the Ape Man stars Lugosi as Professor Dexter, the doctor who put the mad in mad scientist. On the verge of restoring a recently unearthed simian from its frozen sleep, Dexter’s plans for the apesicle will have chilling consequences when he sets about transplanting a human brain into his frozen find. With unwitting (and unwilling) help from fellow scientist Professor Gilmore (Carradine), Dexter hopes to unravel the mystery of the “missing link.”

Return of the Ape Man (1944) - Blu-ray


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Olive Films
Available on Blu-ray
- October 31, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: English SDH
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Olive Films releases a surprisingly strong 1080p transfer of Return of the Ape Man that is presented in a crisp aspect ratio of 1.33:1.  With little remastering done behind the scenes, the black-and-while transfer is crisp and filmic with very little visible abrasions. The women look stunning; the men look daper, and the sets – while meager – are interesting enough for this low grade B picture. The audio is presented in an adequate DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.



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Special Features:

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Return of the Ape Man (1944) - Blu-ray

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