A Blonde Beauty and a Savage Beast... alone in the Jungle!

Bride of the Gorilla
1951 | B&W | 1 Hour 10 Minutes | Horror | NR | Jack Broder Productions Inc.


Director: Curt Siodmak

Writer: Curt Siodmak

Stars:
Barbara Payton
Lon Chaney Jr.
Raymond Burr

Deep in the South American jungle plantation manager Barney Chavez (Raymond Burr) kills his elderly employer in order to get to his beautiful wife (Barbara Payton). However, an old native witch witnesses the crime and puts a curse on Barney, who soon after finds himself turning nightly into a rampaging gorilla. But is his transformation real or is it all in his head?


From the man the wrote The Wolfman, Frankenstein meets the Wolfman, and Son of Dracula gets behind the camera for only the second time to bring us Bride of the Gorilla! And even if this movie is a complete slow burner the story of Voo Doo and witchcraft weave for a great story! Siodmak also brings with him a young man by the name of Raymond Burr who of course is Perry Mason! I was excited to watch Burr in something other than the lawyer roll that I grew up watching. So did he disappoint? Well read on my followers read on....


One thing I can say about this movie is the all-star cast is amazing! Everyone either went on to do big things or had a wonderful career already. For example, a young Woody Strode would battle Kurt Douglas a few years later in Spartacus and finish his career in Sam Rami's western The Quick and the Dead and so much more. 


Of course, we get Lon Chaney Jr. who plays the tough guy commissioner and even if his part is small his presence as always is huge. And even tho this film was done in seven days Chaney went on to do a 4-month publicity tour for Bride. Chaney was also to be the star of the movie but due to his age and the fact he was looking a little rough they dropped that idea and swapped Burr role with Chaney. And even tho I'm a Chaney fan it was a good move. Burr was into his role and it came through on the screen.


Did you know that Chaney and Burr had a fierce competition when it came to Chili? Raymond and Lon both prided themselves on their Firehouse Chili that was so spicy only He-Men need attempt to enjoy a bowl without catching fire. Well, Lon would heat up his batch, which apparently smelled quite foul, and Ray heated up his recipe with equal vigor. At this time Burr was a closeted gay man who tended to let his hair down among cast and crew and pretty much lived with partners during his contract years before Mason made him a star. When asked what Burr thought of his co-star Lon Chaney Jr's cooking, he replied, "Who does she think she is trying to top my recipe for Chili” Lon was not amused and the two kept their distance during most of the shoot. The fact that Raymond Burr turns into a gorilla could be a direct result of his Chili recipe.


Also in odd stories about this cast according to IMBD during the filming of this movie bombshell, Barbara Payton's husband, Franchot Tone, had a private detective spy on her to try to catch her cheating on him. He managed to take a picture of her and Woody Strode in bed together. And with such a small cast and only a seven day shot schedule how the heck did they find the time?


The sets used for Bride are pretty simple but effective you do get the sense of being on a plantation. The cast works really well together so the only thing lacking would be the soundtrack and special effects. We get a quick transformation of a hand and a few good reflection's of the gorilla but that is really it. And yet little is more when it comes to this flick relying more on story than effects.


The Gorilla is fine for the time period that this was filmed in so you never get pulled out of the movie due to cheap effects making you laugh instead its a slow but steady ride. Steve Calvert played the Gorilla and rarely asked for screen credit, preferring audiences to assume the "gorilla" was not human. He frequently made TV and live appearances in comedy sketches, including playing opposite George Reeves (Superman), Bob Hope (Road to Bali), and Mo Howard (Spooks).


So, in the end, this movie is defiantly worth checking out on late night tv. It does start slow but never loses focus on the crazy witch doctor story and just over an hour you never have time to get bored. I really loved Burr's performance and everybody that was a Perry Mason fan should  check this out if you have not already.

3 Bloody Brains




Comments

  1. I've always been a big fan of Raymond Burr. Too bad he lived in such oppressive times.

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