“What a lot a hooey."
Agatha Brewster (Minerva Urecal) is a “ghost-hunter”. She has just returned from Europe. Her brother, Dr. James Brewster (Bela Lugosi) has been reported as missing. A reporter, Jeff Carter (Wallace Ford) asks her for an interview. She reluctantly agrees and makes an appointment for the next day.
Brewster is a scientist. He and his colleague Dr. George Randall (Henry Hall) have been doing experiments using glands from a test ape they have in the lab. While doing an experiment on himself, that went drastically wrong, Brewster has transformed himself into an ape-man hybrid. He is afraid that if he can not find a cure he will revert totally to an ape. Brewster believes that in order to affect a cure he must inject himself with spinal fluid. His partner refuses to help. The fluid must be drawn from a living person. Drawing the fluid will cause instant death. Agatha tries to convince him to help but Randall is adamant.
Carter and his photographer Billie Mason (Louise Currie) are investigating the disappearance of Brewster. When they go to the Brewster mansion they hear eerie sounds coming from the house. They take a couple pictures of Agatha and then leave.
Brewster takes his gorilla and goes to Dr. Randall's home. While Randall is in another room he has the gorilla kill his butler so he can take the spinal fluid from him. Carter sees the story in the paper. Then he looks at the pictures Billie took. In one of the pictures is something looking into the room that looks like a gorilla. Carter remembers the sounds they heard coming from the house. He now believes the sounds came from a gorilla.
Dr. Randall goes to Brewster’s house to confront him about his butler’s death. Brewster has finished creating his serum from the butler’s spinal fluid. He refuses to assist Brewster but Agatha holds him at gun point. With no other choice he injects Brewster. The serum works, however, it is only temporary.
Needing more spinal fluid Brewster and his ape (Emil Van Horn) go on a killing spree.
“The Ape Man” was released in 1943 and was directed by William Beaudine. This is one of the campiest low budget Poverty Row movies I’ve ever seen. Lugosi has pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel with this one. Bad for him, good for us. This is the fifth of the Monogram Pictures movies that Lugosi made for them. Most of them are bad. This one has every trope from the 40’s you could think of. First you have an ape. Then you have an ape-man. Then it rolls on from there; mad scientist, glandular experiments, spinal fluid serum, secret room, etc. It’s a big pile of steaming so bad it’s good.
There is a character that pops in now and then. You don’t know who he is and he has nothing to do with the story. He’s just annoying so just try to ignore him. Otherwise either laugh or shake your head. Either one will work.