Bride of the Gorilla (1951)

Article #158 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 8-21-2001
Posting date: 1-4-2002

A foreman gains control of a plantation by allowing its owner to get killed and then marrying the widow. He also gets on the wrong side of a native woman who places a curse on him that turns him into a gorilla, at least in his own mind.

This horror movie was made during a bad time for horror films, caught as it was in that space of time after which Universal had stopped making classic horror films and before Hammer had resurrected them. The movie feels like a cross between THE CAT PEOPLE (with the central character believing he is changing into an animal) and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (with its voodoo touches and its tropical setting), and the presence of Tom Conway (who was also in both of those films) only adds to the feeling that the movie has a certain similarity to the works of Val Lewton. However, it lacks the depth and well-developed characters of the Lewton counterparts, and it’s hard to dredge up any sympathy for Raymond Burr’s foreman. Lon Chaney, Jr. is wasted in the poorly-written and horribly uninteresting role of Commissioner Taro, and I don’t buy for a second that he’s a native of the region; however, this is exactly the type of character that would have come to life and been pivotal if this had been a Lewton project.

There was a little talk on the board about this movie before I posted this review, particularly about Barbara Payton, and I remember a comment being made about the members of the cast not liking each other at all. I think this shows in the movie; there seems to be a singular lack of chemistry between everyone involved.

Keep your eyes open, though, for a short but interesting scene with Woody Strode. Herman Cohen was one of the associate producers, and it was written and directed by Curt Siodmak.


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