The Ape Man (March 5, 1943)

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Bela Lugosi in The Ape Man
 

Released on March 5, 1943: An experiment gone wrong turns Bela Lugosi into an Ape Man who must drain all of the spinal fluid from a live victim every day to survive.

Directed by William Beaudine

The Actors: Bela Lugosi (Doctor James Brewster), Louise Currie (Billie Mason, photographer), Wallace Ford (Jeff B. Carter, reporter), Henry Hall (Doctor George Randall), Minerva Urecal (Agatha Brewster), Emil Van Horn (the ape), J. Farrell MacDonald (Police Captain O'Brien), Wheeler Oakman (Detective Brady), Ralph Littlefield (Zippo), Jack Mulhall (reporter), Charles Jordan (Detective O'Toole), Charlie Hall (Barney, photographer), George Kirby (Townsend the butler), Ray Miller (detective), Ernest Morrison (copy boy), William Ruhl (Martin the editor).

 

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Guest Review by Mike Newton

Bela Lugosi was Monogram's chief horror guy in the Forties. After leaving Universal where he had been a headliner as Dracula, Lugosi's over acting style and heavy accent garnered him parts at Monogram and PRC. "The Ape Man" was one of those comedy mysteries where you didn't know when to chuckle or to shiver.

Louise Currie, who had been a Republic serial heroine, was a independent female photographer working with Wallace Ford, who usually played the hero's comical sidekick at Universal. Here, because Monogram was a little short of leading men, due to wartime military service, Ford serves as the wisecracking reporter who uncovers the mystery behind the murders of citizens found drained of spinal fluid.

Lugosi is trying to perfect a formula that will change him back into human form. The main ingredient being spinal fluid from living human beings which of course means they have to die. Monogram had used a similar plot for Boris Karloff in 1940 while Karloff was filling in contract time between his Mr. Wong features.

Minera Urecal, another Universal Pictures horror standby, played Lugosi's weird, ghost hunter sister. Emil Van Horn plays Lugosi's simian partner in crime who dispatches the victims for their spinal fluid. Van Horn was best known for his Sultan character in Republic's Perils of Nyoka. He was a longtime circus ape impersonator who got the "ape parts" when Ray "Crash" Corrigan wasn't available. A 1944 feature, "Return of the Ape Man" with Lugosi and John Carradine followed, but was not a sequel.

Bela Lugosi and Henry Hall
Edmund Cobb
Bela Lugosi as The Ape Man and Minerva Urecal as his sister Agatha
Bela Lugosi as The Ape Man and Minerva Urecal as his sister Agatha
Bela Lugosi as the Ape Man
Bela Lugosi as the Ape Man
Charlie Hall and Wallace Ford
Charlie Hall and Wallace Ford
George Kirbey as Townsend the butler
George Kirbey as Townsend the butler
George Kirby spots the Ape Man just before becoming his first victim
George Kirby spots the Ape Man just before becoming his first victim
Henry Hall, Charles Jordan and Wheeler Oakman
Henry Hall, Charles Jordan and Wheeler Oakman
Henry Hall and Minerva Urecal in The Ape Man
Henry Hall and Minerva Urecal in The Ape Man
Henry Hall and Ralph Littlefield
Henry Hall and Ralph Littlefield
Henry Hall and Ray Miller
Henry Hall and Ray Miller
Henry Hall as Doctor George Randall
Henry Hall as Doctor George Randall
J. Farrell MacDonald as Police Captain O'Brien
J. Farrell MacDonald as Police Captain O'Brien
Louise Currie and Wallace Ford arrive at the old mansion
Louise Currie and Wallace Ford arrive at the old mansion
Louise Currie and Wallace Ford in The Ape Man
Louise Currie and Wallace Ford in The Ape Man
Louise Currie primps as she waits for Wallace Ford
Louise Currie primps as she waits for Wallace Ford
Lucien Littlefield in The Ape Man
Lucien Littlefield in The Ape Man
Minerva Urecal and Bela Lugosi in The Ape Man
Minerva Urecal and Bela Lugosi in The Ape Man
Minerva Urecal and Bela Lugosi
Minerva Urecal and Bela Lugosi
Minerva Urecal as Agatha Brewster talks to the repoter
Minerva Urecal as Agatha Brewster talks to the repoter
The ape kills the Ape Man, and the cops kill the ape
The gorilla kills the Ape Man, and the cops kill the gorilla
Wallace Ford and Louise Currie
Wallace Ford and Louise Currie
Wallace Ford as reporter Jeff B. Carter in The Ape Man
Wallace Ford as reporter Jeff B. Carter in The Ape Man
Wallace Ford questions Minerva Urecal
Wallace Ford questions Minerva Urecal
William Ruhl as newspaper editor Martin
William Ruhl as newspaper editor Martin