Wednesday, January 5, 2022

THE APE (William Nigh, 1940)


The good Doctor does some bad stuff transforming his Hippocratic Oath into hypocritical acts. This mediocre monstrosity makes no logical sense and becomes unintentionally hilarious which obscures some relevant metaphors concerning the ethics of small-town folk and the morality of modern medical science. Dr. Adrian wants to cure a young woman of her paralysis in order to redeem himself for his failure to cure his own wife and daughter of the dreaded unnamed disease of Polio. He’s a social pariah in this small town, an outsider more concerned with science than “fitting in” with locals, burdened by rumors of inhuman experiments that led to his own daughter’s death.  Then a Gorilla escapes from the local circus and becomes part of his curative equation. 

So, I have many questions concerning the plot. Dr. Adrian lives alone with an elderly woman housekeeper. He obviously kills the Gorilla when it crashes into his laboratory. How did Karloff and his elderly maid move the corpse of this 800-pound beast? Did they dismember it piece by piece? Then how in the fuck did Karloff just happen to have a Gorilla suite in order to cast blame on the escaped animal when local townsfolk go missing? Or did he somehow skin the Gorilla and make the costume out of its hide? And why dress as the Gorilla? He could just secretly kill people and leave Gorilla hair at each scene! Then how did Karloff, not being young himself, carry each corpse back to his lab especially in such a heavy costume? Or did he carry his needle with him and remove the spinal fluid of each victim? He kills some dreadful townsfolk to get their spinal juice to cure the innocent young woman: this is the ethical dilemma that is somewhat obscured by the horror trappings and logical inconsistencies. Get rid of the ape and there is an interesting story! A nice touch that creates suspense is that the Gorilla is seen walking upright, so it’s a clue that it’s not reanimated but actually a person. The final scene when Karloff is killed shows the sheriff removing the ape-head then a moment later Karloff is sans the costume entirely! Seen from the crippled woman’s perspective who actually begins to walk, this might reveal her own love for the Doctor that obscures his horrible deeds for her benefit.  

Final Grade: (D+)