‘Her clothes torn away, screaming in terror!’
Bride of the Gorilla is a 1951 American horror-tinged drama film about a jungle rubber plantation foreman who marries the dead owner’s wife. However, he is plagued by a strange curse which transforms him into a gorilla.
Written and directed by Curt Siodmak (Curucu, Beast of the Amazon; Donovan’s Brain; The Wolf Man).
The Jack Broder Productions movie stars Barbara Payton, Lon Chaney Jr, Raymond Burr (Godzilla), Tom Conway, Paul Cavanagh, Gisela Werbisek, Carol Varga and Paul Maxey.
” …silly, stagebound but entertaining little monster-mash […] Enjoyable if only for its relentless goofiness, with an ending that will have most viewers wondering if Siodmak forgot to include a reel or two in his final edit.” All Movie
“Siodmak’s serious manner of storytelling and stagy presentation never reaches the potential camp fun this mindless film could have been if it just let itself go ape. Though far from being one of the worst films ever, it can only settle for mediocrity as a magical film where the magic just didn’t work.” Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews
“Siodmak, whose name adorns a number of very good movies, capsizes his sloggy script with poor direction. The camerawork is flat, even in the elaborate if unatmospheric jungle sets […] About the only interesting shots, movie-wise, are the monster point-of-view angles creeping through the greenery…” DVD Talk
“Despite the ridiculous plot, it’s not quite bad enough for the so-bad-it’s-good cultists. It takes itself far too seriously but Siodmak struggles to deliver the insights he was probably striving for when his budget simply wouldn’t run to it. You have to feel sorry for the cast, who deserve better…” The EOFFTV Review
” …it lacks the depth and well-developed characters of the Lewton counterparts, and it’s hard to dredge up any sympathy for Raymond Burr’s foreman. Lon Chaney, Jr. is wasted in the poorly-written and horribly uninteresting role of Commissioner Taro, and I don’t buy for a second that he’s a native of the region” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“Burr is appropriately virile, menacing, and tortured as the beefy hunk Payton longs to run away with. (The poor thing really had no choice in the matter: “A woman buried in a place like this?! You must understand if she gets a bit mixed up.”) The cinematography is effective, and there is some camp value to be found in the pedantically solemn dialogue…” Film Fanatic
“Despite this movie’s campy name, Bride of the Gorilla is really up there with some of the old classic monster films in just plain old good writing. The good acting doesn’t hurt, either, I suppose. So yeah, this was a surprisingly interesting movie… too bad The Wolf Man did it better ten years before.” Films in Boxes
“No sooner has the future Perry Mason married the not-bereaving widow when he begins turning into a gorilla, through a series of cheap and unconvincing transformation sequences. Your average killing rampage ensues. My mind was long checked out by then.” Flick Attack
“A nice and easy to follow story started this picture off as watchable, and as it progressed, it became sort of fun. The chase through the jungle between the gorilla and Julie is cheesy, but a major highlight of Bride of the Gorilla. The movie was going good up until they decided to tie things up abruptly, adding a dumb piece of dialogue by Chaney…” Oh, the Horror!
“Burr looks at his reflection in a mirror and is aghast to meet the gaze of his hairy alter ego (a Burrilla?) – and the camp appeal of a character under such delusions is limited when everything is taken so ponderously seriously. A ridiculous film for sure, but it never hits the adequate heights of delirium and is, in the end, largely morose and uninteresting.” The Spinning Image
“A man turning into a wolf is one thing, but an ape, though usually fearsome when riled up, not very much. You have to give Siodmak credit though, as he made a good picture. Perhaps he was just riding a wave of nostalgia or perhaps he simply wanted to capture lightning in a bottle twice, but be that as it may, though Bride of the Gorilla is no Wolf Man, it was still highly entertaining.” The Telltale Mind
“An amusingly bad horror film […] There is only one reason to sit through this low-budget and extremely silly film, namely the camp value of watching Perry Mason turn into a snorting gorilla-man. Not one of Siodmak’s better efforts.” TV Guide
Doctor Viet: “White people shouldn’t live too long in the jungle. Brings out their bad side, their jealousies and impatience.”
Plot [contains spoilers]:
Deep in the Latin American jungles, plantation manager Barney Chavez (Burr) kills his elderly employer in order to get to his beautiful wife Dina Van Gelder (Payton). However, old native witch Al-Long (Gisela Werbisek) witnesses the crime and puts a curse on Barney, who soon after finds himself turning nightly into a rampaging gorilla-like beast.
When a wise but superstitious police commissioner Taro (Chaney) is brought in to investigate the plantation owner’s death and a rash of strange animal killings, he begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Taro interviews local farmers who have seen the bloodthirsty animal; they identify it as the “Sukara,” a mythical jungle demon resembling a gorilla.
Meanwhile, Dina is also becoming suspicious of Barney, who seems to be more in love with the jungle than with her. She follows him one night into the jungle, only to be attacked by the feral Barney. Taro and his friend Dr Viet (Conway) follow her screams in the jungle and shoot Barney. Before he dies, Barney peers into his reflection from a pond and sees sukara staring back at him.
Cast and characters:
Barbara Payton … Dina Van Gelder
Lon Chaney Jr … Police Commissioner Taro
Raymond Burr … Barney Chavez
Tom Conway … Doctor Viet
Paul Cavanagh … Klaas Van Gelder
Gisela Werbisek … Al-Long
Carol Varga … Larina
Paul Maxey … Van Heusen
Woody Strode … Nedo, Policeman
Martin Garralaga … Native
Felippa Rock … Stella Van Heusen
Moyna MacGill … Madame Van Heusen
Steve Calvert … Gorilla
The Lot, 1041 N. Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, California
During filming, 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.
Full film – free to watch online [720p]: