Bride of the Gorilla

December 13, 2011 at 1:55 am (7 Heads, Bride of the Gorilla) (, , , , , )

Bride of the Gorilla – 1951 – United States

Bride of the Gorilla was written/directed by Curt Siodmak, the prolific penman of many classic flicks: The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Ape (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Magnetic Monster (1953), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), The Devil’s Messenger (1961). Killer ape flicks are usually awful, but Bride of the Gorilla astounds with literate writing and competent acting (including Lon Chaney Jr.). A good gorilla flick? Hell freezes over.

A manager on a South American rubber plantation falls for the boss’s pretty wife. He murders the boss, marries the wife, and is cursed by an angry witch. Soon the murderer devolves into a jungle-stalking ape.  Thankfully, the murderer’s transformation avoids typical were-beast cliches. He embraces the change as his mind grows more bestial. Illustrating this are symbolic scenes of the murderer gazing in the mirror as an ape gazes back. The jungle is personified as a primordial force that absorbs those living within in it and the murderer’s transformation compellingly supports this.

Interesting characters add to the thematically rich premise. Their emotionally charged relationships interweave love, infidelity, and revenge. The boss’s wife feels gratitude toward her husband but blindly loves his murderer. The policeman struggles between educated logic and superstitious native roots. The murderer lives too passionately and succumbs to the beast within.

Bride of the Gorilla is a rare intelligent ape flick. Curt Siodmak’s understanding of multi-faceted conflict is on display. Even better, the crusty old ape suit appears only briefly.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. It’s easy to ridicule this moldy flick. Stop and consider its implications and you might be rewarded.

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