Wednesday, October 20, 2021

THE MONSTER WALKS (Frank R. Strayer, 1932)

An apple a day may keep the Doctor away but you need will-power (as in last Will and Testament) to survive the night in this old dark house. Ruth returns to her childhood haunt for the parsing of her father’s estate but fears his mad ape may throw a monkey wrench into the legal proceedings. The story walks quaintly through horror tropes of secret passages, clutching claws and a caged creature that may roam freely through the dark night of their soul. But it’s really a mundane murder mystery whose outcome is easily guessed from the first act. The static compositions and stagey dialogue aren’t helped by the poor sound recording. The actors haven’t much to work with or much to do and one feels a lack of creative fire that fuels classic Pre-Code horror films such as MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE or ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. Mischa Auer is the bright spot to this dismal affair yet he practically sleepwalks through the story like a somnambulist Karloff. When the original poster advertises a giant raging simian we expect a stuntman in an ape suit yet we only get a traumatized chimpanzee in a tiny cage. Damn, I have more compassion for that angry chimp than the characters in the story: I’d be shrieking and rattling my cage too! Now, it gets even worse with its casual racism as the Chauffeur Exodus (played by Willie Best but billed as the demeaning Sleep’n Eat) is portrayed as the buffoonish laugh-track and eventually avers his descendance from the raging primate. The film is slow, boring, often unintentionally hilarious, lacks suspense and is condescending towards Ruth (the protagonist) and its one minority character. 

Final Grade: (D)