Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown! ....Bongo's # 1... The Gorilla 1939!

This is it folks!
Old Bongo's favorite Halloween Monkey Movie !...The Gorilla !

The Gorilla stars the wacky, zany, goofy, and sometimes funny Ritz Brothers !
The Ritz's are an acquired taste, and some people can't stand them, but I think their brand of low brow humor is funny as hell !

The Ritz's are like an impossible combination of the Three Stooges, and Abbott and short...completely nuts !
 The supporting cast really puts this film over the top for me though.
The cast features Bela Lugosi ! Lionell Atwill ! The hysterically funny Patsy Kelly!
 The stunningly beautiful Anita Louise, And The dashing Edward Norris!

Another cast member who is no stranger to gorillas is Joseph Calleia. Two years after "The Gorilla", Calleia would go on to co-star in the classic Monster and the Girl !
The story is a classic : A terrible murderer is prowling the city...the only clue to his identity ? A note !
On that note, is the threat of death to the victim, and the cryptic signature...The Gorilla !

Our story unfolds in the mansion home of  Walter Stevens. (Lionel Atwill)
The house maid Kitty (the hysterically funny Patsy Kelly !) is relaxing in her upstairs room when A huge gorilla arm reaches in through the window and pins a note to her shoulder.
 A quick shrieking dash downstairs alerts Stevens and his faithful butler, Peters. (Bela Lugosi).

After retrieving the note from the terrified Kitty, Stevens sees that he is to be the next victim of the gorilla.
Rather than call the police, Stevens hires three bumbling detectives ; Harrigan, Mulligan, and Garrity. ( Al, Harry, and Jimmy Ritz)

With the detectives to protect him, Stevens is assured of his safety...or is he?
About then, Stevens' beautiful niece (Anita Louise) shows up with her Fiance.(Edward Norris).

What follows is a tour de farce of sliding panels, secret passages, disappearing detectives, and if that isn't enough, a real gorilla lurking around the house ! The gorilla in "The Gorilla" is expertly played by ace gorilla man Art Miles.


Art's suit was one of the best in it's time, with an incredibly detailed face, beautiful fur quality, and fantastic proportions. The face was well articulated with moving mouth, lips, and nostrils!

Like Corrigans gorilla, Art's had an incredibly wild head of hair ! (think Don King)
The proportions of the suit are excellent, a really massive beast !
The story is for the most part fast moving and really funny. The scenes with Atwill and Lugosi are very memorable and a great showcase for their talents, Lugosi in particular !

Lugosi's Peters the butler is a great character, very eerie, bordering at times at self parody. You get to see Bela step outside the norm, and pull off some great gags like judo flipping Al Ritz flat on his back !

I know it's goofy...I know it's silly...But it's my absolute favorite treat for this very tricky Halloween countdown !
On behalf of Gorilla Man, and myself, Mighty Bongo...We wish you all a very Happy and Ape-y Halloween !

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown!...# 2...The Ape Man !!

Here it is kids, the second to the last Hairy Halloween classic !
This is perfect film for the holiday that cellebrates the weird, the creepy, and the spooky !
Is it a werewolf ? No, even worse !

This time it's.......

The Ape Man....A true classic of Simian Cinema !
The Ape Man....A masterpiece of Monkey Movie Madness !
The Ape Man.... A crap !...It's got a gorilla in it !
If your the hard boiled gorilla man fans I know you are, then you've hopefully seen it !
If not...What are you waiting for ?!!
Be forewarned, my mad monkey minions, there are spoilers ahead !
So if you haven't seen the Ape Man yet, skip now to the bottom of the post and watch it...Go ahead..we'll wait. After you've watched it, read on , and well have a good laugh at it.

The plot; apparently for some reason, Dr. Jonathan Brewster (Lugosi) felt the need to inject himself
in the spine with the spinal fluid of a gorilla. Why you ask? Who the hell knows !
It's a damn well weird thing to do to yourself !
I would assume the fluid was taken from the gorilla Brewster keeps lock away in his basement laboratory. (Emil VanHorn )
The results of this bizarre experiment, are a bad case of poor posture, an Amish beard and a hairline that starts at his eyebrows. Dr. Brewster is so horrified by his ape-like appearance, that he hides out, making the world think he's dead.
Enter, Agatha Brewster ( Minerva Urecal), the nutty Doctors even nuttier sister. The old battle axe's arrival is tipped to a reporter by a loony halfwit tipster named Zippo,(Ralph Littlefield) that keeps popping in and out of the story periodically.
The reporters the goofball Zippo tips off , are none other than Jefferson B. Carter (Wallace Ford) and his cutie side kick photographer, Billie Mason.(Louise Currie)
In a quest to interview the loony old Brewster sister, they wind up at Dr. Brewster's creepy mansion. Before their arrival, old Agatha had gotten the shock of her life to find her brother she thought dead, to be very much alive...though more than a little messed up !
When the reporters arrive outside the old house, they hear the Docs gorilla raising hell, and decided to investigate.
Agatha, (not wanting to disclose her Brothers secret, covers for the noise by claiming it was a recording of ghost sounds from some old castle she was at. ( she's a medium, you see.)
As luck would have it , Billie Mason snaps a photo of the old bag for the article they are writing, just as the ape faced Bela pears through a window behind her.
He sneaks off, not being noticed, and the reporters leave...Very suspicious of the goings on in the old house.
Meanwhile Bela, decides the only chance he has to get cured is to inject human spinal fluid into his back.
The fact that it needs to taken from a live host, and it will kill them to extract it, is inconsequential.
So old Bela and his trained Hench gorilla set out to go on a murderous rampage in a macabre scavenger hunt to collect the fluid.
Bela's friend and fellow physician,Dr. George Randall, (Henry Hall) is approached to do the injections.
Horrified at how he intends to acquire the stuff, George refuses at first, but relents after Brewster has his gorilla kill his butler.
The shot does the trick and they all live happily ever after...NOT.
The cure only works for a short while, so off the hairy duo go to procure more of the secret sauce.
After several more killings, Bela figures he has enough to reverse the curse permanently.
Now all these hairy murders haven't gone unnoticed by the dynamic newspaper duo ,and after yet another tip from the Idiot Zippo, they follow the clues back to the Brewster mansion.
Can you guess what they discovered on the photo of the old hag Agatha, that Miss Mason took...You guessed it, old monkey face Bela himself! The cops have determined that the killing were done by an ape, because of the crushed bones in the victims, and here they find an ape staring at them in the photo. So after a few more words of wisdom from the moronic Zippo, off to the Brewster place the intrepid duo fly.
Meanwhile old George is brought out to the old house to do the honors with the injections.

In a fit of morality, George refuses his friends request and breaks the vial of the good stuff.
Bela doesn't take this lightly and kills him out of spite.
Before long, the girl reporter winds up captured by Brewster and sis, and Carter winds up face down on the floor with a vase busted over his head.

( a classic still, beautifully colorized by artist Mark Thompsen)

Meanwhile, back in the lab, old Brewster's pet gorilla takes a liking to the pretty Miss Mason.
Brewster menaces the poor girl, whilst Jeff Carter, having regained consciousness, is frantically trying to get into the lab with the cops.
Bela is closing in on the dame when she accidentally releases Magilla from his cage.
Not wanting to see his little girlfriend sullied by the Dr.'s grimy paws, the gorilla attacks old Bela, and proceeds to kill the crap out of him.
With Brewster pushing daisies, Magilla turns his affections toward Billie Mason who ain't to happy about that.
Just then Jeff Carter and the cops burst in with guns blazing and turn the poor monkey into hairy Swiss cheese.
As if on cue, the to reporters fall in love and all is happy....Even the idiot Zippo, who wrote the crazy thing.

Is The Ape Man a great movie ? I'd be a damned liar if I said yes.
But it is a fun movie...Wallace ford is likable as the wise cracking reporter, and Louise Currie ain't too hatefull to look at.
Bela is as over the top as I've ever seen him in any movie !
There is some nice atmosphere in a lot of the shots, and the story moves along at a pretty good pace.

A British lobby card, with it's English title, Lock Your Doors...The Ape Man made more sense I think.

                                                         Probably not the best idea Bela !
told ya !

So on behalf of Emil VanHorn, enjoy the movie...and have a good laugh at the expense of...
The Ape Man !

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown! # 3 ...The Monster and the girl !...1941

Trick or Treat ! Hiya folks ! This installment of our Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown is most definitely a treat ! What better treat than a little Mad Science ? Well friends, it doesn't get any madder than the science in The Monster and the Girl !

Monster and the girl is a bit of a hidden gem in the Universal vaults, as it was far out shined by the classic monsters in Universals stable.
For every Frankenstein, Dracula And Wolfman, Universal had lesser titles like Murders in the Rue Morgue, Man Made Monster, and Monster and the Girl.
The production values of Monster and the Girl are excellent. The cast is exceptional and includes the likes of genre veterans Paul Lucas, Joseph Calleia, Onslow Stevens, Marc Lawrence, Gerald Mohr, and the maddest of scientists, George Zucco !
The Story is very dark in subject matter, dealing with seedy underworld doings, false imprisonment, and a woman being forced into prostitution. As much of a downer as this is, it is important to the set up of the plot.
You see, The evil gangster boss, W.S.Bruhl ( Paul Lucas) has framed Scot Webster (Phillip Terry) for a murder he didn't commit.
A few well placed bribes later, and poor Scot is found guilty as charged.
With his execution looming closer, Scot is approached by the seemingly kindly Dr. Parry. (George Zucco) Parry makes a deal with Scot to remove his brain after the execution for science....Mad Science !
Back in the lab, the good doctor has a monstrous gorilla !(Charles Gemora)
Old Doc Parry comes home, Jar in hand and dumps poor Scot's brain into the newly emptied gorilla noggin.
While all this is going on, Scot's Sister Susan is drugged and duped into the seedy world of prostitution by W.S.Bruhl and his twisted slime-bag confederates.
 After a fashion, word starts to get around about Bruhl's doings and it gets back to Gorilla Scot.

Being not just an average monkey, Scot escapes his cage and begins a vengeful game of cat and mouse with Bruhl's goons.
One by one, the thugs meet a gruesome demise by having every bone in their bodies broken.
The press dubs the mysterious killer "The Mangler", and after another on of Bruhl's men winds up the same way, they start getting a little panicky. There is a brilliant scene with Marc Lawrence having a full blown panic attack, "I don't wanna get mangled !I don't wanna get mangled !"...I won't spoil any more for you, as I hope this really wet your Apetite to see it!

Now for the good stuff !
The gorilla in this movie, is widely thought by gorilla man, and ape suit fans, to be the best gorilla suit ever put on film up to that time. I'll go it one better, by telling without doubt, that it was the best suit, up until Rick Baker hit his stride in the 70's ! It's that good !
It was created by the great Charles Gemora, using reference photos and studies of real gorillas.
 The suit was revolutionary, in the fact that Gemora incorporated bags of water under the skin to give realistic sway and heft to the gorilla as he moved...And what movement ! Charlie was beyond a doubt the best at acting like a real gorilla. Every movement exactly mirrors the movements of the real animal. No monster performance here, Charlie went for realism and it shows ! The lighting and atmosphere in Monster and the Girl is top notch, with narrow glints of light catching the gorilla from dynamic angles giving a surreal effect to the ape. The close-ups of Charlie's magnificent gorilla are perfect, and don't come off as "mask-y" at all...It looks real !

This is a super rare behind the scenes shot of Charlie taken during filming. Pretty damned cool !

So give Monster and the girl a spin and see for yourself why this is the best ape ever !
Hows this for a Tricky Treat !

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown! #4 ..... THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST!

I am forever thankful that the gloriously nutty Ed Wood of PLAN 9 infamy, also created the little gorilla suited gem THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST (1958). This creepy little tale of wed-us interruptus posits that a newly married Charlotte Austin has an inexplicable connection to the caged beast in her husband's basement. Steve Calvert mixes it up in Corrigan's old suit and hungers for a taste of his master's new bride. After the escaped anxious ape is dispatched with a few bullets, the hypnotic investigation into the weird draw our angora clad beauty has to the furry fellow reveals a past lifetime as the Queen of the Gorillas! Though the film doesn't sustain the delightful strangeness of it's first half, devolving into African stock footage, it does feature one of the few white apes of cinema, and for that, deserves a rewatch or two!

    Here's the trailer with a few thoughts from John Landis - a fellow gorilla suit enthusiast if there ever was one!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown! #5 ..... Microspook !


BOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Look out for.....

Microspook !

  The hairy and horrible countdown continues with the hysterically dreaded film known only as ...Microspook!
This film is tailor made for Halloween...Haunted Houses, masked maniac with a pet killer goriller...and more horrifying than that..Emil Sitka in a goofball low rent gorilla suit getting confused for the real thing! You can't ask for a tricky treat better than that !
   Microspook (1949) is in the same vein as the classic " Old Dark House" comedies, made very popular in the 30's and 40's. This is actually my favorite type of gorilla movie, more so than the straight up jungle adventures. They just seem a lot more fun to me!
   Microspook stars veteran radio comedian Harry Von Zell, ( Of Burns and Allen fame),Christine McIntyre, and Emil Sitka.

Von Zell, made a name for himself playing a practical joke addicted goofball radio announcer.
In Microspook, Harry's co-workers are so fed up with his antics that they talk one of Harry's sponsors into wanting Harry to do a live broadcast from an authentic haunted house.

His co-workers later sneak into the house intent on scaring the heck out of Harry with an ape suit worn by the great Emil Sitka. ( Sitka was a staple in the Three Stooges shorts, and considered by Moe Howard to be the fourth Stooge)
Needless to say, things don't turn out quite as expected as the house is already inhabited by a killer gorilla ( Ray Corrigan) and his eccentric keeper.

One of the classic gags in gorilla movies is the old " real gorilla is mistaken for a fake gorilla gag".
To pull this off properly, you need the "fake Gorilla" to a fairly low quality suit.
Well, in Microspook, the producers spared no expense in procuring the worst looking gorilla suit on the planet, from the Columbia wardrobe department.
The suit literally is made of fur and gaffers tape and in some stills, it really shows !

Hollywood Gorilla Man Emil Sitka (Yes, you heard that right!) throws a fright into the lovely Christine McIntyre. On top of this comedic gorilla, Emil also played gorillas in other films, (including Jungle Jim and the Lost Tribe) sometimes wearing the gorilla suits of the great Charles Gemora !

Emil and Christine plot to scare the hell, out of Harry Von Zell !

Word to the not so wise...don't a gorilla suit...

The Mighty Sitka stalks the halls of the haunted house !
What a great profile this suit has ! It's like something from a Don Martin cartoon !
Sitka meets the even Mightier Ray Corrigan !
Emil Sitka and Christine McIntyre ring Harry Von Zell's chime !
( photo from the collection of Bob Burns)

The weird thing is that I really like that goofy suit !
It has that same quirky charm as a tie made of construction paper and macaroni noodles that small children would make for their dad on fathers day.
The badness of Emil's suit shines like a spotlight when put next to Ray Corrigans awesome suit,
and makes old Crash's suit all the more real.

This leads to mass hilarity that I can only imagine since I haven't seen Microspook yet !
We can get an idea of what it is like through a wonderful article and photos on a website devoted to Emil Sitka , created by his son, Saxon Emil Sitka.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown!...# 6...White Pongo!

Now I freely admit that WHITE PONGO is pretty far from the parameters that we have set for ourselves, but I cannot get that frosty locked freaky ape outta my mind when considering not just the horrific gorilla film, but rather the horrific gorilla. While the film itself is nowhere near frightening, or dramatically interesting, the bizarre albino ape strikes a powerful pose in the press stills, lobby cards and posters. I don't doubt for a moment that Corrigan's white nightmare was the primary reason the moviegoing masses bought a ticket. Though the suit had none of the realism Gemora strove for, the outlandish and grotesque White Pongo is certainly fascinating enough to capture our attention 70 years later.