Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, Frank Moran, Teala Loring (as Judith Gibson), Tod Andrews (as Michael Ames), Mary Currier, Eddy Chandler, Ernie Adams, George Zucco
Written by: Robert Charles
Directed by: Phil Rosen
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 60
Date: 07/17/1944

Return of the Ape Man (1944)

1 Star (out of 4)

Aping the Bottom of the Barrel

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Those who think that Ed Wood's movies with Bela Lugosi are among the worst ever made haven't seen Phil Rosen's Return of the Ape Man. I love watching Lugosi in just about anything, but this is so bad... It's completely preposterous in every way, totally forgoing logic or human behavior. Firstly, it's not a sequel to The Ape Man (1943), which also starred Lugosi. In this one, Lugosi plays Professor Dexter, who has perfected a way of freezing humans and reviving them months later. John Carradine is his level-headed assistant Professor Gilmore. Dexter suddenly decides to find a prehistoric man frozen in ice, which he somehow does, and revives him, but seems surprised when the creature begins rampaging. He comes up with a hasty plan for brain surgery (!) that might bring the monster to some degree of intellect. Gilmore quits when he learns of Dexter's mad plan, but of course, Gilmore becomes the victim. The monster goes on a rampage anyway. Frank Moran plays the bearded creature, dressed in rags. Judith Gibson (a.k.a. Teala Loring) plays the pretty girl, Gilmore's daughter. (She was also in Edgar G. Ulmer's great Bluebeard with Carradine the same year.) Screenwriter Robert Charles's only other credit was another Lugosi vehicle, Voodoo Man, released the same year. This movie features some of the dumbest cops I've ever seen, pretty close to the one that scratches his head with his gun barrel in Plan 9 from Outer Space.

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