Thursday, 28 November 2013

Bride of the Gorilla (1951)

With Lon Chaney Jr and Raymond Burr on the cast, Bride of the Gorilla has much more name recognition than most of the films in my SciFi Classics box set. It also features journeyman Woody Strode, whose career - if IMDB is to be believed - stretched 56 years.  And finally it features the as-of-1951-hot-prospect Barbara Payton, fresh off a well received role opposite James Cagney. Quite what all these people were doing in this goofy little horror-melodrama, I don't know. Payton's career never recovered, though her wild lifestyle probably had more to do with that than this movie did. She would be dead by 40.

The film has Burr as the foreman of a rubber-tapping estate. He murders the owner and marries the man's beautiful wife (Payton), but his actions are witnessed by the local wisewoman. She curses him to become a beast. For much of the movie, the script avoids definitively saying whether this transformation is literal or just in Burr's head. Some other elements of the writing are a lot more clumsily executed. All in all, it's a pretty hokey film, and some of the 'jungle' scenes are pretty blatantly in sound stages, but I found it enjoyable nonetheless.

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