Mad scientist Boris Borodoff (Eugene Sigaloff) needs a couple large male adult orangutans to experiment on to prove his evolution theory. He wants to inject the primates with some kind of glandular serum and then take out their brains. His lovely assistant Alma Thorne (Mae Stuart) is on hand to help. Not being able to get any orangutans shipped to him for his experiments Dr. Borodoff decides to go to Borneo and experiment there.
The ‘go to’ man in Borneo for jungle treks is Bob Ward (John Preston). He is none too keen on having his jungle friends cut open by mad scientists. He prefers to have his animals sent to game reserves and menageries for education and entertainment. Since PETA wasn’t founded until 1980 animals in zoos is perfectly fine for 1934.
Eventually Bob is convinced that the mad doctor is not going to cut open an orangutan so they set out into the jungle with Bob’s pet baby orangutan, named Joe, insisting on going along. Many weeks in the jungle result in the expedition finally finding an adult orangutan.
Joe manages to capture the primate by luring it with food and Gordon’s gin. This is when the mad doctor’s real plan is known. Bob won’t stand for this and attempts to release the orangutan. Boris at first threatens Bob with a gun and when that is taken away from him he knocks Bob unconscious. While this struggle is going on the giant orangutan escapes and goes into the jungle dragging the unconscious Bob behind him. Being without his prize ape Boris decides that Bob’s pet baby orangutan will have to do in a pinch.
“The Beast of Borneo” was released in 1934 and was directed by Harry Garson. It is a pre-code film. Experiments on and cutting open primates would be a no no for the Hays commission.
1934 was not a real good year for movies. Case in point “The Beast of Borneo”. Not to be confused with 1931’s “East of Borneo” although I am told that leftover footage from that movie was used for “The Beast of Borneo”.
The acting sucks. The mad scientist is rather lame. Where’s George Zucco or Bela Lugosi when you need them? With the name of Boris Borodoff you’d think he’d at least be able to twirl his mustache. As for the orangutan, it is a combination stock footage and a guy in a bad suit. And what does an orangutan sound like? Well, if you’ve never heard one and had to make something up I suppose you might come up with something that sounds like a beer guzzler burping his a,b,c’s.
As for highlights, Joe, the baby orangutan, was the best actor and had the best lines in the film. The only part of the film that had me intently watching was when a python was slinking after poor Joe.
One of the problems with the film is that we don’t really know what the mad scientist does. The first time we see him he is putting something in a test tube that looks like blood and then adds some kind of clear liquid to it, I assume gland fluid. The two fluids together give some kind of reaction that the doctor likes. After that there isn’t a test tube or bunsen burner in sight. All the doctor does is whine about how hot it is and lust after his assistant.
As for the beast there are two factions on that. Some think it is the orangutan and some think it is the mad scientist.
I’d chalk this one up as a jungle movie not a horror movie or a science fiction movie.