Tuesday, November 7, 2017

RETURN OF THE APE MAN (1944) (Olive Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Olive Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 61 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.33:1) 
Director: Philip Rosen 
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Ftank Morna, George Zucco, John Carradine, Mary Currier

Synopsis: Directed by Philip Rosen (Murder by Invitation), Return of the Ape Man stars Lugosi as Professor Dexter, the doctor who put the mad in mad scientist. On the verge of restoring a recently unearthed simian from its frozen sleep, Dexter’s plans for the apesicle will have chilling consequences when he sets about transplanting a human brain into his frozen find. With unwitting (and unwilling) help from fellow scientist Professor Gilmore (Carradine), Dexter hopes to unravel the mystery of the “missing link.” Return of the Ape Man also features Michael Ames (From Hell It Came), Judith Gibson (Bluebeard), Ed Chandler (The Ghost and the Guest) and Ernie Adams (Invisible Ghost)

In Return of the Ape Man (1944) we have two scientists, Professor Dexter (Bela Lugosi, Island of Lost Souls) and Professor Gilmore (John Carradine, House of Seven Corpses)who are obsessed with the science of suspended animation. At the start of the film they have kidnapped a local hobo with an aparent reputation and frozen him for solid several weeks. They're in the process of reviving him with a secret serum and sure enough he wakes up and hops right off the table none the worse for wear, they throw him five bucks and he wanders off none the wiser!

With that success they set their aspirations even higher - they head to Antarctica to seek the frozen corpse of a pre-historic man! Month later and on the verge of giving up on the expedition the men discover a long buried cave after an avalanche reveals it, and wouldn't you just know it, within it is the frozen corpse of a Neanderthal, whom they ship back to their lab, and set about thawing and re-animating - and it works, natch!

However, both scientist are displeased and unimpressed by the weak-minded caveman, somehow just reanimating a thousand of years old corpse was not enough, and Dexter sets about looking for a more contemporary victim whose brain he can transplant into the body of the caveman. This new endeavor upsets his partner Gilmore, who had no problem abducting winos for experimentation, but draws the line at straight up murder - even if it's in the name of science, what a cad! Of course this falling out leads to a double-cross and Dexter gets his brain, from you know who, but his smarter ape man cannot escape his homicidal urges of his primate brain, and goes on a neck-snapping rampage through the city with a damsel in distress thrown over his shoulder for good measure. 

Oh man, what a stinker, Carradine and Lugosi played their fair share of mad scientists in a number of awful 40's and 50's movies but few were as rote and anemic as this black and white slice of z-grade mediocrity from Monogram pictures, one of the lowest poverty row studios. This flick is just plain awful, it's not even goofy enough to be fun, this is just plain bad with no redeeming value whatsoever other than the marquee value of Lugosi and Carradine. 

Audio/Video: Return of the Ape Man (1944) arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films framed in the original full frame (1.33:1) looking grainy and murky, there's rampant speckling, dirt and other image issues such as flickering and poor contrast levels. Not sure what the source for this is, assuming it's a theatrical print from the looks of it, but it's nothing to celebrate regardless of the source. Audio comes by a way of a mono DTS-HD MA track, dialogue is anemic and hard to decipher at times, there's a prevalent hiss throughout, optional English subtitles are provided. There are no extras on the disc, just a generic start-up menu, which is too bad, the only reason I could fathom watching this again would be for some Rifftrax style laughs.

Return of the Ape Man (1944) is a certifiable mad science clunker from the 40's, there's nothing I can say about this yawn-inducing tale of science gone awry that would make me want to watch it again, let alone recommend it to someone else, but if you suffer from that are form of extreme vintage cinema masochism it's now available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.