Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

Review - Bride of the Gorilla

I thought this was going to be a really bad B-minus movie rip-off of King Kong. But I was wrong.  Bride of the Gorilla is a classic with an all-star cast, amazing special effects and more plot twists than a challah.

Blonde hottie Barbara Payton stars as Dina, the trophy wife of Amazon jungle plantation owner Klaas Van Gelder (Paul Cavanagh). She has the hots for plantation manager Barney Chavez, played by the ubiquitous Raymond Burr (or perhaps an anamatronic replica). Klaas has just fired barney, and Dina begs him not to leave.

Barney declares his lust for Dina, vowing to take her away from all this, which he does in front of the maid Larena (seductively played by Carol Varga, whom you may remember as Violet in Live Fast, Die Young, or as Rani, the serving girl in The Black Panther and Untamed Mistress. Or not.) Barney had vowed to take Larena away from all this, just yesterday.

Larena cries on the shoulder of the obligatory house hag/witch/spy Al-Long (played by Gisela Werbisek, or perhaps her reanimated corpse). Al-Long vows that Barney "will never hurt anyone again".

Meanwhile, Klaas has gone to the garden to commune with nature, and Barney joins him ostensibly to talk  Klaas out of firing him. We see Al-Long behind the bushes, spying on them. Barney sees a poisonous snake heading their way, and take the opportunity to sucker-punch Klaas, who falls right in the path of the snake.

Enter the local constable, Taro, played, amazing but true, by the legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. And the doctor/coroner Viet (Tom Conway). Both the cop and the doc are sure Barney killed Klaas, but the evidence and Al-Long's eye witness account say the poor man died of a snake bite.

So Barney not only goes free, he marries Dina and becomes master of the plantation.

Until he drinks the cursed potion from a hallucinogenic plant which Al-Long slips into his evening nightcap. The curse makes him see himself as an animal which hunts in the jungle. It takes effect at sundown and lasts till dawn. To everyone else, he still looks like Barney, but to himself he looks like a man in a very shoddy gorilla suit. Burr apparently did not do his own stunts, the gorilla is credited as being played by one Steve Calvert. Steve apparently made a small living playing gorillas, after his debut in the moth-eaten suit in this flick, he went on to play a gorilla in four more films, most memorably Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla.

So every evening Barney has his drink, and rushes into the jungle, leaving his gorgeous wife behind. The doctor recognizes the symptoms of poisoning, and warns Dina, but she thinks the doctor wants her for himself (probably because he tells her he does) and she ignores him.

Meanwhile the jungle monster has scared off all the plantation workers and all the help except Al-Long, and Dina decides to take a rifle and follow Barney into the jungle to see what he's up to. Since this is a family film, she does not suspect animal "husbandry" on his part. The doctor and the policeman follow her, just in time to see something drag her into the bushes. They both fire blindly into the bushes a few dozen times, and when the smoke clears, both Dina and Barney are dead. Big surprise.

The policeman discovers the poison plant in Al-Long's room, and they arrest her.

 

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