Image Entertainment presents
Bride of the Gorilla (1951)
"Let me tell you how the jungle took the law into its own hands."- Taro (Lon Chaney, Jr.)
Stars: Barbara Payton, Raymond Burr
Other Stars: Lon Chaney, Jr., Tom Conway, Gisela Werbisek, Paul Cavanagh, Carol Varga
Director: Curt Siodmak
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:05m:16s
Release Date: 2002-12-10
DVD ReviewBride of the Gorilla is billed as an "occult horror drama," though it is really more an outright jungle drama than anything else. Sure, it was written and directed by Curt Siodmak (the man who wrote the horror classic The Wolf Man), and it does team him up once again with Lon Chaney, Jr., to say nothing of featuring a creepy, old Maria Ouspenskaya-ish character, too. But when the dust settles, this is not much more than a vaguely supernatural jungle-gets-revenge flick featuring a hulking Raymond Burr wooing 1950s sexpot Barbara Payton deep in the South American jungle.
Burr is Barney Chavez, the hunky foreman on Klaas Van Gelder's (Paul Cavanagh) jungle plantation, and who just happens to be in love with Dina (Payton), the beautiful blonde wife of his boss. When Barney spurns the advances of equally sultry servant Larina (Carol Varga), he unknowingly earns the bad mojo of crusty jungle witch Al-long (Gisela Werbisek). Using the mysterious "plant of evil," Al-long allows the relationship between Barney and Dina to develop, only she has secretly attached a deadly curse to the whole affair. In a nod to Siodmak's The Wolf Man roots, Barney occasionally transforms into a mythical jungle beast, which in reality resembles a guy in a shaggy gorilla suit. Lon Chaney, Jr., never a world-class thespian by any stretch (despite always being near and dear to my heart as the The Wolf Man's troubled Larry Talbot), shows up as police commissioner Taro, sent to investigate a mysterious death on the plantation, and generally cause trouble for poor Barney.
Payton, who according to one character "looks good to any man", is full of tightly-wrapped, unadulterated jungle sex appeal, and it is easy to see how and why Burr's Barney is so blindly hot for her. Burr, here years away from his bloated Perry Mason days, carries off the rugged lead duties surprisingly well, and while his acting is still well within the confines of the B-movie ballpark, I kind of liked the way he comes across.
Bride of the Gorilla runs just over an hour, and most of that time is spent dealing with the ramifications of Barney falling for Dina, and very little in the way of any genuine jungle horror. Chaney, Jr.'s Taro spouts off about a legendary jungle beast, Al-long mumbles curses, and Tom Conway (star of The Falcon serials) nearly walks away with the film as the slick, refined Dr. Viet, complete with a dashing pencil-thin moustache. We catch a few glimpses of Barney-as-the-gorilla, but it's not until late in the film that we get anything close to a full body shot (i.e. man-in-gorilla-suit) as he carries off Dina into the jungle.
This is an odd little film, one where Curt Siodmak seems to be recycling his glory days from The Wolf Man, only changing the setting to the South American jungle, and replacing a wolf with a gorilla.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: Bride of the Gorilla is presented in 1.33:1, and for its age it looks fairly decent. Not perfect, mind you, but decent. As expected, there are a few significant nicks here and there, and Chaney, Jr.'s big inquest scene in chapter four features a jarring edit. There are passages where the print looks darn good, which only makes the flaws that much more apparent.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: A respectable hiss-free English mono track is provided, and the score from Mort Glickman (who put together the memorable alien choir for Invaders from Mars) comes through wonderfully. Dialogue was always discernible, and never a problem to understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: A theatrical trailer for Bride of the Gorilla and an adequate 12 chapter stops is all there is, as far as extras are concerned.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsThe lesson I learned here is don't cross a jungle witch, or she'll turn you into a gorilla. Sexy Barbara Payton and dashing Tom Conway are almost worth the price of admission, but the story itself is all too familiar as Curt Siodmak re-visits territory better travelled in The Wolf Man.
Rich Rosell 2003-02-27