• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Ape Man

TITLE: The Ape Man

YEAR: 1943

GENRE: Horror

Bela Lugosi’s acting career is a perfect example on how typecasting can ruin a man’s life. Lugosi was literally on top of the movie word in 1931 with his epic portrayal of the famous vampire in Dracula, but quickly fell out of favor with studio executives because they believed that he was only capable of playing the creepy bad guy. By the early 1940’s Lugosi was delegated to playing villains in poverty row studio productions, most notably for a company called Monogram Pictures which specialized in action, adventure, and horror films. One of their small budget shockers was The Ape Man, which has some bright moments but overall is a weak horror thriller with many of the trappings of a production with a minimal budget.

Dr. James Brewster (Lugosi) and his assistant Dr. George Randall (Henry Hall) are conducting unusual experiments regarding combining ape and human genes. When Dr. Brewster injects ape spinal fluid into his own veins he suffers a transformation into a hideous ape-human mix. Desperate to become human again, Dr. Brewster kills a few people and collects their spinal fluid to inject into himself to hopefully change him back to all human. When Dr. Randall refuses to cooperate any longer with Dr. Brewster he then releases a captured ape (Emil Van Horn) to help him commit some murders to gather fluid so he can operate on himself. Two reporters, Billie Mason (Louise Currie) and Jeff B. Carter (Wallace Ford), start to investigate the sightings of the ape man and his rampage in a hope for the scoop of the century and to stop the diabolical doctor.

I am not sure how fresh the prints looked in 1943 as this film has not seen a proper restoration and the surviving prints are not in the best shape, but even then The Ape Man has filming that is too dark in many places and uses limited, uninspired camera angles. The effects are also laughable even for a poverty row production: Dr. Brewster’s lab is downright pathetic looking and the ape costume is probably one of the three worst ever used in any film. The film also attempts some humor at the end, as there is a guy who is seen peeking through windows throughout the film and cracks a pretty bad joke at the end, but it is worth a proper groan. On the positive, the banter between our two reporters is fairly comical at times and the two have a surprisingly good chemistry. In addition, Lugosi gives a properly good performance but the acceptable acting between him, Ford, and Currie is not enough to save this uninspired turkey.

Director William Beaudine was nicknamed “one shot” because most of his takes were done in one filming even if sets would collapse on camera and is most known for directing the early Lassie and Rin Tin Tin films. Shortly after this production Lugosi sank deeper into drug addiction problems as well as depression and literally became a pariah to Hollywood producers by 1950. The Ape Man is just one of those poorly produced, written, and directed cheapies designed to thrill audiences but turned into a poor excuse of a production that only serves as fodder for the crowd who loves to pick on old movies over a case of beer.

* ½

–Mark

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