“What happened?” “What happened? I was hit by the biggest spider you ever saw in your life.”

Paul Morgan (John Eldredge) has just purchased an abandoned lighthouse. The lighthouse sits on a rock sticking out of the sea. He is a painter and plans on using it as a studio. Captain Cobb (Brandon Tynan) has just brought him out to the lighthouse. They are waiting for the caretaker Captain Hook (George Rosener) to arrive with the keys. Hook arrives looking like a one handed Popeye with a hangover. Morgan walks into the kitchen to look it over. Something appears to be up between Cobb and Hook. Hook wants to know why Cobb brought Morgan to the lighthouse that night. Cobb says that Hook called and told him to. Hook replies he never called. Morgan returns from the kitchen with a wallet in his hand. The initials in the wallet are DDH. Eventually Hook says that the wallet belongs to a rich guy from town named David Dow Harriman but refuses to say any more. Cobb and Hook leave the lighthouse.

In the meantime bumbling police Detectives Dempsey (Allen Jenkins) and Kelly (Hugh Herbert) are driving down a rain-swept road when they get a flat. While Dempsey is changing the tire Kelly reads in the paper about a new police chief that was hired and is looking to crack down on a criminal called the Octopus. Then they hear a radio broadcast about distress call coming from a sinking boat and of a submarine in the area. Then they hear a scream. A woman runs up to the car. She says her name is Vesta Vernoff (Marcia Ralston). She says her step-father has been murdered. She says he was an inventor that invented a powerful Death Ray. She says his body is at the lighthouse.

By now Morgan has found a body hanging from the lighthouse lamp way above his head. Right then Dempsey, Kelly and Vernoff arrive. Before you know it others arrive at the lighthouse. Hook and Cobb are still around and are soon joined by Polly Crane (Margaret Irving) whose motorboat crashed on a reef. She says she was trying to get away from a boyfriend trying to assault her and for some bizarre reason, Nanny, the Harriman’s housekeeper (Elspeth Dudgeon) shows up.

What ensues is a riot of secret panels, bad jokes, slapstick, people who are not what they seem and strange plot twists. It’s a really big pile of strange.

“Sh! The Octopus” was released in 1937 and was directed by William C. McGann. It is a comedy/mystery. The film is your basic thirties style slapstick, bad joke “B” movie.

It has a very convoluted pedigree. It is supposed to be a conglomerate of two plays “The Gorilla” which is a spoof of the murder mystery genre and “Sh, the Octopus” which itself is supposed to be a redo of “the Gorilla” only with an octopus. The play “The Gorilla” was made in a silent movie in 1927 which is now lost. It was again remade in 1930 as a sound film. This one is also supposed to be lost. How someone managed to review it is a mystery to me. The next time it was remade was in 1939 with the Ritz brothers. That one is around because I reviewed it. What I found interesting is that such a stupid movie (both “Ah! The Octopus” and “The Gorilla”) had so many re-dos. There comes a time when you need to realize that it’s just not going to be any better, no matter how many times you re-make it. I believe that is what the definition of insanity is supposed to be.

Although it was mostly a bad movie there were a couple things I liked about it. Yes, it was mostly confusing, which I really didn’t have a problem with since that was the only reason it kept my attention, all the way to the very disappointing ending. I also liked the one actual scary sequence. It was unexpected and done quite well. I don’t want to give that point away but it has something to do with a transformation. The only other thing I liked was the stupid, ridiculous octopus. Yes, it was adorable.

Suffice it to say that “Ah! The Octopus” is not for everyone.

The transformation was done using a shade of make-up that reflects differently depending on the filter or light used. When you want to see the make-up just add or remove either the filter or the light, whatever is required, to give the effect needed. This trick only works on a black and white film.

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