Another feature of...
I’m sure my fellows in the B-Masters Cabal, more conversant with the history of the Video Nasties list (covering as it does films in which I have very little interest), will provide more in-depth information and discussion on the issue. Briefly, though, the government of Britain, back in the early days of the home video machine, decided to outlaw the distribution of a list of movies due, mostly, to obscene depictions of violence.*
[*Oddly, an argument commonly employed against regulating the depiction of sex in the mass media—an argument I’ve never found very convincing, I must admit—is, "How disturbing and hypocritical that we fear and censor depictions of sex, but shrug off depictions of violence." Here someone actually tried to follow the logic of that argument, and it didn’t gain them much sympathy.]
Although I don’t hold with censorship—my generally libertarian view of government would have it doing rather less than it is now, much less expanding its powers to decide what citizens should be watching and reading in their homes---I probably should throw in my lonely two cents and admit that I at least understand the concerns that drove it. And in an era in which films that can be described as ‘torture porn,’ like Saw and Hostel, are dominating the box office, I can understand a certain sociological queasiness.
Even the U.S. government, which unlike Britain has a first amendment guaranteeing free speech, can outlaw materials deemed obscene. There’s the rub, of course. At this point in time only child pornography is viewed as obscene by enough of the population to be so proscribed. And even those strictures will fall over the next ten to fifteen years, had I to guess.
The main functional problem with the Video Nasties roster and the thinking behind it, of course, is that it is in the end simply unworkable, at least in any country which takes the civil rights of its citizens at all seriously. Ultimately a list like this is going to be highly subjective, and that will always be its downfall. And the opposite technique, of attempting consistency by outlawing across the board the depiction of certain acts, without taking into account in any way context or artistic intent, is even more problematic.
At least one film on the Video Nasties list, The Evil Dead, is now viewed by many as a minor cinema classic, and has been safely viewed by millions of people. Even more damning is the inclusion of my review subject, The Night of the Bloody Apes. This is not because it has redeeming artistic value, but conversely because it’s so damn silly. Yes, it’s gross, but when someone as squeamish as I am can work through a film at length (not without qualm, I admit), it’s obviously not something that deserves to be on a list with Cannibal Holocaust or something of that nature. And that’s assuming you think it the role of the government to outlaw Cannibal Holocaust to start with, which few do.
Thankfully, the American credits don’t offer us a bunch of patently bogus ‘Anglo’ pseudonyms in place of the cast and crew’s real names. Funny how then contemporary stuff from Europe, like the Spanish films of ‘Paul Naschy,’ still employed those, while the Mexican films weren’t as prone to. Did the Mexican fare play cheaper theater circuits that were less demanding?
To my vast lack of surprise, the Story and Screenplay credits name Rene Cardona and his son Rene Cardona Jr., as the perpetrators, er, creators behind this film. Between the two of them, los Cardonas dominated the Mexican exploitation market for several decades. Given the time period, seeing their names made me pretty sure I’d be viewing some wrestling scenes in the coming hour and twenty minutes.
Well, that and the fact that this is a Mexican horror movie.
I was, I must admit, particularly intrigued by the Wardrobe credit for "ESTRELLA". What really sold it for me was that the quotation marks around the name actually appear as part of the credit. It would be fun to discuss this movie with other people, if only so I could mention Estrella’s name while employing that quotation mark hand gesture. "Boy, nice costuming by "Estrella," huh?" [Estrella’s main contribution, by the way, is in costuming one of the few movie monsters to wreak bloody carnage whilst clad throughout in pajamas.]
The credit that heralds the film’s inclusion in the infamous Video Nasties roster, however, is "MEDICAL APPARATUS AND SUPERVISION IGA, S. A. AND SIEMENS MEXICANA S.A." More on that later.
Given my prediction just a few paragraphs back, regarding the probable appearance of wrestling scenes, I must admit that I laughed when the first shot of the film proper centers upon a bright red wrestling mask hanging on a coat rack. Well, that answers that question. This item is soon plucked from its perch by Lucy, a lady in a matching red leotard, which had me wondering if
a) This film is part of Cardona’s earlier "Wrestling
Women" series (Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy,
b) Going to be yet another reworking of the mad scientist plotline and incidents featured in Doctor of Doom—the first of the Wrestling Women films—and already recycled at least once in Cardona’s Batwoman.
[Future Ken: a) No, and b) sort of, but not really.]
The auburn-haired Lucy is joined by her standard issue Handsome-but-Stolid boyfriend, Arthur, who arrives to wish her luck before her match. Arthur helps her don her mask, which sports cute little ‘ears.’ For some reason, her donning this item is heralded with sinister blares of music.
Lucy’s appearance is eagerly awaited out in the *cough, cough*
arena by the usual crowd of perhaps twenty screaming and wildly
gesticulating extras. These, per tradition, are packed and framed
tightly together, although for once shots of them aren’t intercut with
stock footage of a much bigger crowd. Instead, the paucity of extras is
maintained throughout. The section of seating we see past the ring
sports a bare two rows of seats, which in turn contain a sum total of
perhaps thirty people. They do foley in the sounds of a much larger
As you’d expect, after the mandatory pile drivers and half-nelsons, Lucy manages to overcome her opponent. Things end when she tosses her opponent out of the ring. Green Wrestler lands prostate, and right at Arthur’s feet. (Normally I’d roll my eyes at this bit of coincidence, but given the size of the ‘crowd’ here, the odds weren’t all that much against it.)
The wrestler remains still. Given the shrill music chords, we are unsurprised when Arthur examines her and pronounces the woman badly injured. Lucy, looking on nervously from the ring, gasps in horror at this news. She knows the other wrestler, whose name is Elena, personally. Here we also learn that Arthur is a police Lieutenant, which is pretty much par for the course in these things.
A doctor—we can tell from his prop medical bag—arrives and calls for an ambulance. Cut to (really) "General Hospital," which name is uttered by a switchboard operator occupying a markedly bare set. Behind her, an actor playing one Dr. Krallman steps awkwardly into frame. His hitching stride readily telegraphs to the practiced eye that he had been standing in place just off-camera and waiting for his cue to enter shot.
The operator turns and informs Krallman that he’s scheduled to attend a meeting the next day, "up in the conference room." That sort of dense medical jargon can really help sell the setting in a movie like this. Since there’s no apparent reason for Krallman to be introduced at this point, I assumed he would prove to be our villain. This is confirmed when Krallman steps outside to his ugly, lime green station wagon, which is chauffeured by a swarthy fellow who calls him "Master." (!!) They take off just as an ambulance departs for the wrestling arena.
Krallman and his henchman, Goyo, soon arrive outside a gated area. The time elements are a little suspect at this point. When Krallman left the hospital, it was clearly night time; evening time, most likely, given the wrestling match. Here, however, it looks like it’s approaching sun-up, which would seem to make it unlikely that Krallman be making that aforementioned 9:00 a.m. meeting in the Conference Room. Of course, the real answer is that it’s presumably not supposed to be anywhere near dawn, and that the apparent brightness is instead the result of inept day-for-night shooting.
Goyo, for his part, exhibits a pronounced limp as he leaves the car. (I prefer my henchmen to be actual, full-fledged hunchbacks; but then, I’m a traditionalist.) He unfastens the chain securing the gate door, and they proceed into what appears to be a zoo. And, yep, there’s a stock shot of an orangutan. Here another blare of sinister music sounds over footage of the beast contentedly sucking on a plantain, which admittedly I found pretty amusing.
Dodging a *cough, cough* ‘night’ watchman, the skulkers pop
open a suitcase and approach the orangutan’s cage. From this Krallman
removes from and assembles a two-piece tranquilizer rifle—actually, he
really just seems to be holding the pieces together with his hands—with
which he sedates his hirsute quarry. Then the film garnered my first
genuine laugh-out-louding, as the stock footage orangutan turns into a
guy in a hilariously cheap (not to mention not at all orangutan-like)
black gorilla suit. Although the actor in the suit hunches over when the
ape is conscious, he sprawls out like a human, flat on his back, when
unconscious. This doesn’t exactly aid our suspension of disbelief.
Back at the hospital, Arthur and a guilt-stricken Lucy watch as Elena is wheeled into surgery. (Nobody else is around, so I guess Green Wrestler doesn’t have a manager or attendant, much less a boyfriend.) "But I feel I am to blame!" Lucy quickly avers. I wondered what that ‘but’ signifies, since that’s the first thing either of them says. "Why are you to blame?" Arthur retorts, which doesn’t exactly burnish his detective credentials, if you ask me. His point, though, is that wrestling is a dangerous business, etc. At this point a doctor appears and explains that Elena will need surgery, and orders a nurse to call Dr. Krallman.
Here we cut to Krallman in his Obligatory Mad Scientist’s Lab™, with comes complete with all the staples: gorilla cage, oscilloscope, tabletop array of Circular Flasks containing Mysteriously Color Fluids, etc. The phone rings, whereupon Krallman is interrupted from (what else?) peering into a microscope. Learning that he is needed, he prepares to leave for the hospital. First, however, he checks in on the bedridden Julio, his fully grown but wan-looking son. Krallman exhibits several Significant Looks of Concern as he does so.
Cut to the hospital just following Elena’s operation. (Uhm, do doctors usually emerge from hours of internal surgery sporting spotless white surgical gowns?) Lucy runs over to Krallman for news. "We’ve done everything that is indicated," he muses. "Now all we can do is wait…and pray." Wow, there’s an original line.
Having just completed delicate brain surgery, we cut to Krallman in the Conference Room. This proves to be a bare set consisting entirely of a multi-paned window and a framed certificate on the wall. He is standing and tightly surrounded by three other doctors (we can tell; they’re wearing lab coats), indicating that the set was a very small one. Or, more probably, it’s the corner of a larger set, undressed and shot in close-up in hopes that we won’t notice this to be the case.
Krallman is told—actually, he must have known all this, so really it’s we who are being told—that Julio is dying, and that nothing Modern Medicine has to offer can help. However, given that Krallman is the sort of scientist who spends his spare time kidnapping guys in cheesy gorilla suits from zoos, presumably for some rather rococo experiments, I think we can safely assume that this won’t be the end of the matter.
Back home, Krallman attempts to rouse Julio’s spirits by lying to him about his prognosis. Julio smiles in reply, not seeing his father assume a Dramatic Grieving Expression as he turns towards the camera. Krallman then goes down into the basement, where—naturally—his lab is located. Goyo is there, staring into the same microscope Krallman was peering into earlier. I don’t know what the slide contains, but it must be dynamite.
Goyo looks up at Krallman’s approach and reports that everything is ready. Here we get a better look at the lab set, and it is fairly large for one of these things. One wall features a window, over which has draped a red sheet, although light filters through. This serves to draw our eye while raising the intriguing question of how Krallman’s underground basement can sport a large outside window.
Anyway, Krallman begins to muse about a time in the past when he also had to take, er, extraordinary medical messures. Reminding Goyo of "when you suffered that terrible accident," he notes, "everyone assured me that you would die. Undaunted I fought to save you. And now the two of else alone must fight to save the life of my son."
I usually think its kind of lame to explain things like Goyo’s limp, even as elliptically as they do here. However, I do like the fact that they actually Goyo a motivation for doing all the insane things Krallman requires of him. Too many films feature assistants who will, for instance, kidnap or murder somebody without hesitation when commanded to do so, pretty much for no other reason than because they are ‘henchmen.’ It’s like those supervillains who constantly murder their own underlings whenever they exhibit the smallest fault. You always think, "Man, why do they work for that guy?" I mean, can the average mad scientist, the kind who works out of their basement, really afford to pay a guy enough to take those kinds of risks? You’d think not.
Even better, the exposition serves an actual story purpose. Krallman is not only establishing Goyo’s backstory for us out in the audience, but also reminding Goyo of his debt. I doubt Goyo will really show many concerns about their actions at any point in the proceedings, but it’s nice to see that Krallman at least feels the need to tug on his rein a little bit.
We cut to the two in surgical gear. Goyo fires another dart into the gorilla suit guy, who for his part still can’t be bothered to crouch into a reasonably gorilla-like posture. More amusingly, it’s evident (but just barely) that they did a really, really half-ass job of trying to dye the gorilla suit red. This, presumably, to help disguise the fact that it doesn’t remotely resemble the orangutan we saw earlier. However, neither the dye job, nor the fact that they shoot the suit from the back, in any disguises the fact that it’s we’re clearly talking the wrong primate here.
Krallman mentions that Julio is dying of leukemia. I can only suppose the idea is that a *cough, cough* orangutan is ‘stronger’ than a human, and so an orangutan heart will confer extra-human vitality to the recipient. However, it still seems like installing another human heart would less problematic.
Sure enough—say what you will about me, but I know my Theoretical Mad Science—Krallman now elaborates on exactly this point. "The transfusions of human blood have been ineffective against this terrible leukemia," he explains. "I feel that the blood from an animal as powerful as that of a gorilla* might annihilate whatever is causing the cancer in the blood." Even given that, you’d think you’d try a few gorilla-based transfusions before an actual heart transplant, but what do I know?
[*At this point I can only assume that the people behind the American dub knew that everyone would recognize a gorilla suit when they saw one, and thus changed the dialogue. Or was the orangutan referred to as a ‘gorilla’ in the original Mexican dialogue too, in the same way that bad science fiction films will conflate the terms ‘galaxy’ and ‘universe’? So many mysteries.]
Goyo apparently agrees with me, and asks if Julio, supposedly mere hours from the grave, can stand the stress of a transfusion. Krallman responds that he can’t; hence he plans to give Julio the gorilla’s heart. So…Julio is so weak he can’t have blood piped into his veins, but he can survive a heart transplant procedure? Whatever. Ordering Goyo to heft the sedate gorilla onto a matching surgical table—this task, needless to say, is also completed off-camera, thus sparing the actor playing Goyo of having to try dead lifting a prone guy in a gorilla suit—Krallman turns to look at a grade school biology poster of the human heart, which he helpfully has pinned up on the laboratory wall. This is emphasized with a shrill music sting. (??)
Next is the scene primarily responsible for winning this film its place on the Video Nasties roster. Up to now, this has been a typical Mexican wrestling / horror film, meaning that all the violence has been suggested, and any romantic elements are merely suggested, to the extent of partners generally not even being allowed to kiss on camera. But here, at just about the 16 minute mark, we enter a whole new ball park, as they cut in all too detailed footage of an actual heart transplant procedure.
For the next minute and a half, sweaty close-ups of a masked Krallman and Goyo are intercut (literally) with footage of actual surgical incisions being made, bloody internal bits being displayed, and human hearts sliced free, handled and interchanged. Those less squeamish than I, of course, now watch such stuff at much greater length on cable TV for their intellectual edification, or, in some cases, just for their jollies. Still, especially given the time period, I can only imagine that many surprised and aghast movie patrons in 1967 ran from their theater seats and sought out whatever porcelain receptacles were available in which to deposit their undigested concession stand popcorn and sodas.
In the interests of scholarly rigor, I considered actually subjecting
myself to this sequence in real time. However, to be quite frank I found
it unsettling enough in fast forward mode, thank you very much, although
at least I didn’t just skip over the scene entirely.
Still, such a thing does seem out of the spirit of this particular exercise, and the facts of the matter should be documented, in case my more stalwart associates in the B-Masters Cabal wish to exile me from their company for my embarrassing wimpiness in this matter. To which my response would be, let he who has also spent several weeks of his life writing sixty-plus pages about The Trial of Billy Jack cast the first stone.
In any case, Krallman and Goyo strip off their bloody gloves and ‘tensely’ observe a cardiac monitor for several moments. Finally—there wouldn’t be much of a movie, otherwise—the machine begins registering a heartbeat, via a truly annoying beeping sound. Indeed, not only does a heartbeat manifest itself, but within seconds Julio is opening his eyes and partly rousing from his sedation. (!!)
Meanwhile, we return to Lucy, who is back in the ring. I mean, c’mon, this is a Mexican horror movie and we haven’t had a wrestling scene in like fifteen minutes. Oddly, this match seems to be playing out before the exact same crowd as the one seen in the beginning of the movie, who moreover all appear to be sitting in the exact same seats. Season tickets holders, I guess. Indeed, so apparently superstitious are these fans that they’ve come to his new match wearing the exact same clothes! These must be their Sunday-go-to-wrestling finest.
The wrestling scene is pretty much like every wrestling scene in these things, in the same way that a sex scene in a porno film is utterly generic. This is especially true in that Lucy’s opponent doesn’t have her mask stripped off halfway through to reveal that she’s a Cyclops or something.
The main point of this scene, however, is that Lucy isn’t playing up to speed, presumably due to her guilt over what happened to Elena. Lest we fail to discern this for ourselves, however, we dutifully cut to after the match, as Arthur waits for Lucy’s arrival. She duly appears, having shed that ten or fifteen pounds of muscular bulk she mysteriously manifests in the ring, and we get dialogue on Lucy’s predicament.
Back in the Basement Lab, Krallman watches over Julio, who is still on the lab table but now encased inside an oxygen tent. Several hours pass, as indicated by a clock jumping forward and light beginning to stream through a barred window. (Again, isn’t this lab in the basement?!) At this point Julio again attains a shaky consciousness. To preserve his strength, his father tells him to answer his questions by blinking. Julio through this mechanism reveals that he is entirely pain free (!!), and is told to get some more sleep.
Leaving his son’s side for a moment, Krallman and Goyo move over to the Guy in the Gorilla Suit’s corpse. Here we get a good look at just how fake looking that suit is, which is a lot. It’s pretty much exactly the kind of thing you’d buy in a Kmart store for a Halloween party, and the fact that it’s adorned with a ‘bloody’ towel to indicate a surgical cavity doesn’t exactly mitigate this. Moreover, it’s once again clearly lying flat on its back, in a most un-gorilla like fashion.
In any case, they wheel it over to the obligatory Basement Mad Science Lab Incinerator Unit. Personally, I prefer an alligator pit or acid bath or acid-proof alligator filled acid pit as my body parts/victim disposal system. Really, though, that’s more an aesthetic choice than anything else.
Meanwhile, the workers at the zoo finally notice the missing
orangutan / gorilla / whatever. After conducting a day-long search, the
director deduces that the animal must be "wandering around the city."
Yeah, like nobody would have noticed that. Having come to that
conclusion, he decides to call in the authorities. Yes, under the
circumstances, that’s probably a good idea. The idea that somebody might
have actually taken the animal, by the way, is never broached.
The idea that the gorilla is running around loose and so far unobserved is absurd, of course, but it’s obvious where this is going. Julio will inevitably turn into a gorilla-man of some sort—believe me, I’ve seen this kind of thing many times before—and will begin a murderous rampage mostly involving the deaths of several buxom young woman, and the police will initially pin the blame on the missing animal. One can also safely assume that Arthur will end up in charge of the case.
[At this point in things, per the previously cited Doctor of Doom and Batwoman, I was assuming that Krallman would eventually decide to replace the gorilla heart causing all the problems with Lucy’s. This would be predicated on the notion, as established at greater extent in those films, that an athlete’s heart is stronger than that of a typical human’s. I was somewhat surprised when in fact this idea wasn’t employed here, especially since that makes Lucy’s role in things largely pointless. Well, except to allow for the wrestling stuff, of course.]
Back in the arena dressing room—good grief, doesn’t that woman ever go home?—Lucy is preparing for yet another match. Arthur arrives again—good grief, doesn’t he even go to work?—and once more chides her for her continued career ambivalence, with his advice basically being to buck up. I’d expect a bit more sympathy from her boyfriend. But then, a wrestler in Mexico has certain responsibilities. Lucy’s fear of hurting somebody again is like Mick Jagger sitting around and anguishing over whether all the sex and drugs are really worth the whole thing.
By the way, do you want innovative dialogue in your movies? Try this:
Arthur: "Do you know what riders do when they get thrown
from a horse?"
Wow, riders being thrown from horses, and getting right back up again. There’s a clever and entirely fresh simile, by gum. (His extremely awkward phrasing of this trope, however, is admittedly unique.) Thanks, Arthur.
His real argument, actually, is that if she can’t get her mind back in the game, she should retire. To his delight, it turns out Lucy is contemplating just that. Her last contracted match is coming up in a few days, and following that she plans to hang up her mask. They embrace and kiss, which again is more than you’d ever seeing a guy like Santo or the Blue Demon do. Those guys never worked blue.
And…cue wrestling match Number Three. Head cleared by her decision (as well as Arthur’s promise to take her to dinner if she wins), Lucy’s Beefy Surrogate easily bests her latest opponent.
After the match, Arthur is intercepted by Ramon, another detective, who incidentally sports the damndest helmet of hair I’ve seen in while. Using all the modern policing theories, the department has noted that the cage of the missing gorilla and the chain around the zoo gate appear to be intact, thus indicating that maybe—just maybe—there was some human involvement in the animal’s disappearance. In any case, the Chief naturally wants Arthur on the job, post haste. Our Steadfast Hero grimaces, pondering how to break his promised dinner date with Lucy.
Arthur arrives once more at Lucy’s gigantic and otherwise unoccupied dressing room> (I can only assume that they spent several hundred of pesos on the set, and needed to get their money’s worth.) However, he knocks on the door as Lucy is preparing to take a shower. He insists she let him in, and to my amazement she covers her front with a towel but strides forward while providing an at-length butt shot. I’ve never seen this sort of thing in a Mexican horror movie before, and certainly not in a wrestling picture, so I guess all bets are off at this point.
Arthur stutters over having to break the date, and I’m like, damn, man, you’re a police detective. If she’s going to freak over a broken dinner date, you’d best just break up right now. And indeed, before he can even explain why he’s there, Lucy deduces the situation and gets pissed off. Apparently this has occurred before on numerous occasions. Given this, his flabbergasted response of, "Tell me how you knew [that I was going to break our date]?" once more serves to undermine our belief in his crackerjack detective skills. Anyway, she angrily slams the door in his face and he slinks off.
Back at the Lab, Goyo brings a plate of food for Krallman, who he finds sleeping in the chair next to his son’s lab table. Putting the tray aside, Goyo leans over to—that’s right—peer into the microscope. He doesn’t change the slide, but he does adjust the lenses. By now you’d think they’d have that thing in focus.
Beatific music plays over all this, but then we cut to close-up of
the dozing Julio. He experiences a lap-dissolve transformation (cue
music change to a more sinister motif) into your basic caveman make-up,
including exaggeratedly coarsened facial features and skin texture, a
fringe beard and a black fright wig. Oddly, though, this exaggerated
alteration all stops right at his neck. It should be noted that the end
result is pretty much the same as that which occurred when the Mad
Scientist of The Doctor of Doom similarly transplanted a gorilla
heart into a human subject.
Goyo, hearing Gorilla Julio’s growls, manages to tear himself away from the microscope. (Man, they must have a cheesecake photo of Halle Berry or something on that slide.) "Master, look!" he cries, and Krallman awakens. Needless to say, he also is rather startled by the result of his tinkering. He reaches for his altered son but is shoved aside. In case you’re wondering, Gorilla Julio has luckily been provided with a pair of Hulk Expando Pajama Pants™, which thus continue to fit nicely at the waist despite the lad’s now substantially huger bulk.
Gorilla Julio—safely off camera—smashes through the aforementioned doesn’t-make-sense outside window and presumably makes his way to freedom. Krallman calls for the trank rifle, orders Goyo to bring around his car, and sets out after his boy.
Meanwhile, Gorilla Julio is skulking around the (needless to say darkened and unoccupied) city streets. Spotting a woman roaming around her secluded apartment, and being now a Rampaging Gorilla Man, he immediately sets forward to get her. Instead of taking the stairs, he climbs up the side of the building. You know, the Gorilla Man thing. He then interrupts her just as she’s (surprise) taking her shower, and not wanting to tax the local censors, she thoughtfully wraps a towel around herself while screaming at his appearance.
We still get a bit of a butt shot and, when he carries her into the bedroom (oh, ick) a clear boobie shot, yet the towel remains strategically draped across the area of her Ya-Ya Sisterhood, if you know what I mean and I think you do. In any case, he joins her on the bed and mauls her unconscious form and makes Tasmanian Devil like ‘caveman’ noises.
She comes awake during this and attempts to extricate herself, whereby he begins what pretty evidentially is supposed to be his raping her. I’d like to think that scene got the film on the Video Nasties list too, rather than just the gore, although sadly I doubt it. Only recently have rape scenes fallen out of comparative favor as a mechanism for providing the audience with nudity and ‘sex.’
Other apartment tenants are roused by the commotion, as we cut from the increasingly crowded hallway to the woman’s now blood-streaked and gore-spewing fate, which is dwelled upon at some length. Still, I guess it could be even more graphic this it is, so thanks be given for small favors. Finally one tenant bursts the door open, only to be greeted with the sight of the woman’s mostly nude (the towel being still, and rather unbelievably, in place) and bloody corpse, a sight emphasized by the most stereotypical possible shock music sting.
Meanwhile, Krallman and Goyo just happen to make the scene. (The shots of them ‘driving around’ in their car were quite obviously shot in a mock automobile on a darkened interior set, and are not, shall we say, entirely convincing.) They thus manage to spot Gorilla Julio walking around atop the woman’s apartment building. However, their quarry hops over the roof to the other side of the street before they can attempt to apprehend him. Jumping back into the Avocado Mad Scientist Wagon, they resume pursuit.
Gorilla Julio, still wearing his Hulk Expando Pajama Bottoms™ despite his recent amatory activities, hops another wall and resumes his lurking. He watches as a young boy—who looks directly into the camera during his brief appearance—collects some wares from a shopkeeper and takes his leave. At this point I was literally wincing at the prospect of watching a seven year-old getting gruesomely murdered, but luckily we are spared this as the lad safely walks right past Gorilla Julio. After that rather cheap scare, Krallman and Goyo drive up and manage to bring the marauder down with another trank dart.
Unsurprisingly, Arthur is the investigating officer at the murder scene. After a brief, perhaps comic (I guess) bit of all the witnesses babbling to him at the same time, we cut back to the Lab. "I was prepared for everything," a grieving Krallman admits, "but not for this." Well, then, technically he wasn’t prepared for ‘everything,’ although I guess that point is a bit pedantic under the circumstances. Even so, what happened to Julio is a pretty typical result from implanting a gorilla heart into a human, if my cinematic studies mean anything.
It turns out, according to Krallman, that the main problem is the gorilla heart. Being that this is so strong and all, it is pumping too much blood up to the cerebrum, which can’t handle the pressure and thus has…turned Julio into an ape-man? Wait, that can’t be right, can it? Apparently so, as the increased blood pressure has, per his theory, "damaged the superior parts [of the cerebrum]. And when this happens, man becomes an animal, completely without control." Uhm, OK. I guess he always grows an unruly Beatle-haircut and puts on forty pounds, as evidenced here.
"Given origin to the transmutation," Krallman continues, "the malignancy of the case is that the process might occur each 45 seconds, the time it takes for the blood to circulate through the normal body. At times as much as a minute, or a little more, if the person is in a state of unconsciousness." Yes, well, that much is clear.
Goyo asks how long the transformation will last. "It’s always impermanent," Krallman admits. (How the hell would he have come to that conclusion?! I mean, based on what?) "It could last for days, or hours or minutes." Sadly, though, although Julio might regain his normal appearance at any time, "His cerebrum will be lesioned forever." This means he might change again at any time without warning, and then back again, and so on. Ah, yes, the Hyde Effect. Science doesn’t get much more basic that that.
Suddenly, however, Krallman is seized with an ingenious solution. "Invert the process," he cries, "before the lesioned cerebrum becomes irreparable!" Yep, sure enough, this involves transplanting another human heart—from a living person, natch—into Julio’s chest.
Goyo, however, quickly spots the fly in the ointment. "But a person acting as a donor in this would die!" he gasps. Krallman sadly agrees. However, if Mad Scientists weren’t willing to work past trivial concerns like that, they’d never get anything done. I mean, OK, maybe the proverbial Man in the Street would be willing to forgo the occasional murderous Ape-man. But what about all the other stuff Mad Science has brought mankind? You know, the murderous Snake-men, or the murderous Leopard-men, or the murderous Venus Flytrap-men? What kind of world would that be?
Krallman suggests using Elena’s heart, since she has no practical chance of recovery. After a bit more hand wringing, Goyo agrees to continue to aid Krallman, but at least he’s reluctant about it. Sadly, that’s more characterization than a lot of these guys get.
Krallman then formulates a masterful scheme to sneak Elena out of the hospital without being seen. "Tomorrow when it’s dark," he explains, "we’ll take her out of the hospital without anyone seeing us." Well, you can’t argue with an airtight plan like that. In the meantime, they will keep Gorilla Julio tied to his lab table, and Goyo is to regularly inject him with sedatives. He’s also told to see to the broken window, which apparently means ‘haphazardly placing a handful of thin boards over the breach.’
We then cut to Lucy, who is attempting to see Elena at the hospital. Being denied an opportunity to actually visit her room, Lucy seeks information on her condition. The desk nurse, who also is the one running the switchboard, briefly telephones someone and announces that there has been no change.
Back to the Lab, where an unattended Gorilla Julio wakes up and basically just shrugs off the ropes ‘securing’ him to the table. I don’t know, maybe if they’d tied them… Anyway, there’s a pretty evident continuity error regarding the barred lab window. One second ‘sunlight’ is streaming through it. Then we cut to a close-up of Gorilla Julio’s eyes opening, and then back to a wide shot when he tosses off his ropes. At this point it is suddenly pitch black out through the same window. I guess the sun goes down right fast in those parts.
And, sure enough, if unsecured ropes aren’t going to stop the rampaging Gorilla Julio, neither is the hodgepodge of propped up but unnailed boards ‘covering’ the window. (By the way, what’s the point of having a small barred window and a large unbarred one?)
Then back to the hospital again, where we see Krallman’s master plan in action. Luckily, Elena’s room is ground level and has an outside window—which in this universe, apparently, could actually means she’s down in the basement—of the sort that can easily be pushed open from the outside. This accomplished, Krallman and Goyo climb into the room and…well, later, she’s in the lab.
Back to the still pajama pants-clad Gorilla Julio, who is naturally creeping around again, this time in a *ahem* park. Needless to say, he almost instantly stumbles across a couple making out on a bench. He assaults the guy, and rips the woman’s dress nearly off before she’s permitted to flee, exposing her bosom for our edification. After pulping the guy’s neck (or perhaps he was holding a bunch of strawberries and they got crushed during all this), and tearing off various bits of his skin via effects that even I thought were lame and inoffensive, Gorilla Julio takes up the hunt.
The woman trips, of course, and I wincingly anticipate a replay of the coarse boobs-and-blood antics from the earlier rape scene. However, and for no apparent reason, after (ape)manhandling her for a small while, he suddenly looks up and runs off. The apparently unharmed woman recovers and takes off screaming, gaining the notice of some bystanders.
A butcher, hearing of the woman’s boyfriend being attacked, runs from his shop to the park to investigate. His knife does him little good, as Gorilla Julio jumps him from behind. I’m not sure why he’d let the woman go and then hang around to attack other guys, but then I’m not an ape-man. He stabs the butcher with his own knife, although the blade clearly changes width and length when Gorilla Julio is wielding it.
Meanwhile, Krallman and Goyo arrive home with Elena. Heading down into the basement, they are disconcerted to find that Gorilla Julio has gone AWOL again. They hit the streets again.
For his part, Gorilla Julio continues strolling around and conducting his reign of gory but highly unconvincing mayhem. This includes a famous scene—famous among that handful of people conversant with this sort of film, anyway—where he gouges a guy’s eye out, which was so phony looking even I couldn’t get very upset by it. It looks like they took a sheep’s eye and planted it in a fake rubber face, and then popped it out from the inside. I mean, the idea itself is pretty gross, but the execution (thankfully) leaves something to be desired.
Coming across a ‘crowd’ standing by the park, Krallman has Goyo pull over. They walk around with their trank rifle, rather fortuitously not being seen by any policemen. Luckily they quickly stumble—pretty much literally—over Gorilla Julio and are able to sedate him. Goyo manages to bring the car around before more police arrive, and they make their escape (despite the fact that at that point, the park is crawling with police and medical crews). Meanwhile, an actor playing a cop quite nearly runs his squad car into the crowd of extras as he makes his entrance. I’m sure the bit players were pretty happy about that.
Arthur checks out the scene, and then pops into the butcher shop to question the attacked woman. She agrees to tell her story, and we cut away to a radio broadcast. Per my prediction—and rather unconvincingly, at this point—the ‘escaped’ gorilla is being blamed for the crime. I mean, the guy looks like a caveman, not a gorilla. You might think the hairless naked chest and pajama pants would have given the game away, but I guess not.
Back to Krallman and Goyo, who are just now situating Elena upon a lab table. When they pull back the sheet covering her, she’s naked, and we get a nice close-up view of his breasts. Hey, rape nudity, coma patient nudity—this film has it all!
This leads into a second, albeit mercifully brief, hunk of authentic heart transplant footage. The operation appears to be successful—well, on Gorilla Julio’s side, at least, since Elena is now dead and then shoved into the incinerator—but as there’s still a bit more than half an hour of movie left, I’m going to take a flyer and guess that all is not completely copasetic.
Back at *snigger* General Hospital, they finally notice that Elena has gone missing. The resident telephones Krallman, since he is her doctor of record. After hanging up, Krallman orders Goyo to make sure that any trace of her body is gone, in case "we have visitors." Frankly, body or no, I think the sedated murderous ape-man in the basement might give the game away. But there you go.
Later, back in the Conference Room*, Krallman covers his ass by acting outraged with the board of directors about Elena’s disappearance. Hilariously, this hasn’t been reported to the police yet (!!), and Krallman demands that they do so. Working to his advantage, though, the hospital board fears a scandal. They decide to attempt a cover-up in order to save the hospital’s reputation, which frankly seems more than a bit ridiculous. Krallman suggests that they sell the idea that Elena had become a sleepwalker (!!), and that she just wandered off. Needless to say, the board members jump to implement this bulletproof idea.
[*This time everyone in attendance actually sits around the room on the furniture, rather than tightly congregating in a corner.]
At police headquarters, Arthur is running a briefing on the murders. I must admit that, despite having some experience with ludicrous ‘scientific’ dialogue, I couldn’t much follow this:
Meanwhile, the pathologist notes that the murderer was indeed as strong as a gorilla, but strangled his victims like a man. Which, I must admit, is a more common sense observation than I was expecting in this movie. Moreover, as Arthur notes, the observation of the only eyewitness ("the pretty girl," as he names her), doesn’t support the gorilla theory. Proving a veritable Sherlock Holmes, Arthur asserts that an escaped gorilla would have a hard time just disappearing in a small town, and reasons that it was stolen.
However, when it comes to intuitive leaps worthy of Fox Muldar…whoo, boy.
"We’re face to face with a terrible reality. What I’m going to say just might sound absurd, and could only happen in this century. But from all of the proofs you have seen, and the declaration of the young girl, I have come to this conclusion: That whatever committed these atrocities is a beast, yes; but a horrible half-beast, half-human!"
Unsurprisingly, the Chief dismisses this notion, noting that it probably stems from Arthur’s after hours viewing habits. "It’s more probable that of late," the Chief suggests, "more and more you’re watching on your television many of those pictures of terror." Uhm, well said.
Back in the lab, Krallman is observing a blood transfusion drip he’s set up over Gorilla Julio’s unconscious form. After making sure that all is functioning correctly, he pauses to scan the day’s paper. There he finds an editorial that, rather improbably, suggests that Arthur has gone public with his theory regarding the murderer. "…and they [the police] believe that somehow a horrible half-man / half-animal is responsible for the crimes that have been committed. It’s unbelievable that such things can happen in the 20th century. What are the authorities doing to clear up the case?"
Realizing that the heat is on, Krallman looks heavenward and prays for six more hours. He then looks at the wall clock, which reads exactly 4:00. We then cut to the same clock at exactly 10:00, and back to Krallman standing over Gorilla Julio. Sure enough, right on cue, Gorilla Julio lap dissolves back to Regular Julio. Wow, when he said "six hours," he wasn’t kidding! That’s an amazingly precise estimate there, I must say. Especially since it’s not like there’s a huge backlog of medical history on people turning into ape-men following cross-species heart transplants or anything.
Krallman is overjoyed, believing that all is now well. Given the twenty-plus minutes of running time yet to go, I’m personally not quite as sanguine, but we’ll see. Meanwhile, despite the medical danger of moving him, Krallman decides to take his son back upstairs to his bedroom. "Possibly he’d recognize where he is [i.e., in the lab]," Krallman cautions, "causing traumatized emotions, and a crucial nervousness that could give rise to a new transformation." Doesn’t sound too stable, does he? Apparently if Julio gets pissed off that the wrong singer has been picked in round three of Mexican Idol, all bets are off.
Krallman figures he’d best check in at the hospital, and orders Goyo to hang around and watch over Julio. "There’s no danger as long as he’s sleeping," Krallman notes. Uhm, OK. If you say so. You’d think under the circumstances that maybe, I mean, just perhaps, they might want to secure him. But then that’s why us Nervous Nelly types seldom become Mad Scientists.
Meanwhile, Arthur is cruising the streets while listening to Lucy’s match on the radio (!!). She wins, in case you’re interested. As Man can’t live on chasing murderous ape-men alone, he radios headquarters and orders up a connection to the phone in Lucy’s locker room. To our vast lack of amazement, Lucy is just then (what are the odds?) currently taking a post-bout shower. She steps out to answer the phone and positions herself lengthwise on the massage table, thus allowing for further long ganders at her butt and boobs whilst keeping her Forbidden Zone safely out of sight.
She’s annoyed to hear that Arthur is still, you know, looking for the brutal mass murderer that’s been plaguing the town, and gives him a shrill earful. Good grief, what is she going to be like after they’re married?
Hilariously, he responds by inviting her to come meet him where he is. Moreover, he suggests that she actually wait for him in the park where the murders just took place! I guess his thinking is, ‘Hey, nobody’s been raped or dismembered right around here in several days now! What could go possible wrong?’ (Well, either he’s thinking that or else he’s a lot more Machiavellian than I would have given him credit for.) She agrees, and hangs up. At this point the other cop in the patrol car notes that "it’s pretty calm." Arthur laconically replies, "Yeah…the calm before the storm!" All the more reason to ask your girlfriend to take a midnight stroll in the area, eh?
Back at the ranch, Krallman departs for the hospital. Sure enough, about one minute later a red-gelled spotlight plays over Julio’s face and he quickly goes all bestial again. In fact, he’s actually worse now, furrier and actually sporting fangs. I had been wondering why they’d put him back in his now full set of pajamas (and the shirt is an Expando™ one too), as these hardly represent the scariest monster costume, but given his increased facial furriness I assume they didn’t want to have to bother gluing matching hair to actor’s torso.
Downstairs, and hearing heavy breathing from above, Goyo decides he should go and investigate. You know, up to where they’ve placed the unsecured guy who is prone to turning into a rampaging monster. Moreover, he doesn’t bother taking the trank rifle or even a hypodermic needle. Again, what could possible go wrong?
Goyo slowly limps upstairs, then pauses in the hallway and peers into Julio’s room. In an attempt to make what follows ‘logical,’ the set dressers have given Julio’s bed a ridiculously tall footboard, so that you can’t see if anyone’s in the bed unless you actually step forward another three feet—which, of course, Goyo fails to do. Instead, he just shrugs (!!), and heads back down. You know what? At this point, Goyo is pretty much getting what he deserves. Henchmen can get away with being psychopaths, perverts, drunkards, sadists, even necrophiliacs. However, the one thing they shouldn’t be is lazy. Man, it’s hard to get good help these days.
And so Goyo limps back downstairs, not noticing that Gorilla Julio is following along behind. Goyo sits back down in the den to read, whereupon we learn that the accident that provided him his limp and a big facial scar also apparently claimed his peripheral vision. The hulking Gorilla Julio has crossed the entire open room to Goyo’s direct left and is all but literally standing on top of him before Goyo notices. (It’s actually here, for those keeping notes, that we get the big reveal of Gorilla Julio’s new, more ‘animalistic’ face.)
Since variety is the spice of death, Gorilla Julio decides to kill Goyo in a whole new way, by literally pulling his head off at the neck. I think they might actually have used animal meat here at the juncture to help make this look gruesome, and it does. (‘Realistic,’ though, is another thing entire). Still, under the circumstances I would have thought that pulling off a guy’s head would by marked by wildly spurting blood. Apparently not.
Seconds later Krallman returns (?). Entering the living room, he is horrified to find that someone has fashioned a wax head of Goyo, spattered it with red paint, and left it on the floor. He soon rebounds, however, and shrugs this off in a matter of fact manner, so as to begin searching for his son. Oh, yeah, that would be my plan, too.
He ends up in the bedroom, which is empty. Gorilla Julio soon appears, however, with Goyo’s Wax Head (which, to be fair, is not as laughably bogus as many other such I’ve seen) clutched in his hand. In shock, Krallman rears back, trips, rather unconvincingly smacks his head on a dresser corner, and falls to the floor unconscious. Gorilla Julio approaches, but somehow recognizes that Krallman is his father and places him gently on the bed.
Teary eyed (really!), Gorilla Julio turns away. His softer side is short lived, however, and as soon as he’s in the hall the shrill horror movie blares out again, indicating that he’s still got a lot o’ killing left in him. Our instinctive horror is somewhat diminished when he begin growling in a manner suggesting a starved Yosemite Sam gnawing at a steak.
They must have wanted to eat up some running time at this point, to the extent that the phrase ‘walking time’ would be more appropriate. We’ve just spend several minutes watching first Goyo and then Krallman walk around the house. Now, rather than just cutting away, we thrill to the sight of Gorilla Julio slowly lumbering down the stairs, treading across the living room in a leisurely fashion, looking into the den, pausing, looking around, and then finally stepping forward and smashing his way through a patio door.
The sound of the breaking glass attracts the one beat cop on duty—again, remember that several people were brutally slain right here just a few nights earlier—who is jumped and has his scalp literally torn off. (For one glorious second, as his body slumps over, you can clearly see not only the tube and even a bit of the reservoir tank they used to pump all the stage blood from his head, but the hand controlling it.) I’m not sure that would kill you, but no doubt it would smart a good bit.
Hilariously, we now see that Krallman’s house is on a corner lot directly kitty corner from the park, and moreover the exact section of the park were the murders took place. Seriously, it’s just across the street. After a gruesome multiple homicide, you’d think that maybe the police would have canvassed the neighborhood, whereupon Krallman’s revealed presence might trigger Arthur’s suspicions. Apparently not, though.
Meanwhile, it is, coincidentally enough, just during the attack on the cop that Lucy arrives on the scene. Witnessing the ghastly deed, she screams and takes off, with Gorilla Julio in pursuit. She screams, and Arthur, still sitting in a darkened soundstage in what is supposed to be a moving car, hears her. "Hear that?" he asks of the driver in response to the very loud yelling, and nonchalantly indicates they should head back in that direction. Nothing gets past that guy, I tell you what.
Back in the house, Krallman comes to and is alarmed by the siren. Meanwhile, having found the dead beat cop, Arthur pulls him gun and runs into the park, with Krallman (and no backup) right behind him. Because she’s the heroine, Lucy has so far manages to evade the previously inescapable clutches of the monster, and of course Arthur’s approach scares the beast off before anything much can befall her. Still, is he going to hear about this one for a while! When you’re arguing with your girlfriend, it’s hard to formulate a good rejoinder for, "Oh, yeah? Remember that time you told me to meet you in the middle of the night at the place where several people had just been brutally murdered, and the vicious ape-man who butchered them nearly raped and killed me?"
Arthur nearly gets the drop on Gorilla Julio, but before he can shoot Krallman jumps him. By the time Arthur subdues him, the killer has apparently fled. Instead, and this was a definite ‘oh, bruu-ther’ moment, Arthur steps forward to find an unconscious Normal Julio slumped on the ground in his pajamas. Well, that’s convenient.
We cut to the cops investigating Krallman’s house. Arthur follows Sgt. Hairhelmet down to the basement lab, where they examine the gorilla cage, incinerator unit and conical flasks. Having seen enough, they leave for General Hospital to interrogate Krallman and Julio.
Back at the hospital, and with less than seven minutes left to go, we just have time for one more sustained burst of mayhem. Therefore a nurse enters a room to see Gorilla Julio crushing the head of a doctor, and effect so beyond their abilities that it’s basically just represented by a spraying a bunch of stage blood on the doctor’s coat.
She screams. This attracts the attention of a beefy doctor who is just across the hall, checking on a cute little girl. (The latter at one point turns her head to stare directly into the camera for a good five straight seconds.) He runs to see what’s up, and upon seeing the towering, thick-chested ape-man, his first—not to mention last—impulse is to grapple with it. Exit Doctor #2.
The nurse hides in the little girl’s room—yes, that’s the institution I’d wish to take my family members to—and Gorilla Julio pushes his way inside. Since this is near the end of the movie, he follows tradition and scoops the little girl up in his arms off before lumbering off. Because, you know, that’s the sort of things monsters do after tearing several people to pieces in order to establish that on some level they’re still all innocent and stuff.
Arthur arrives on the scene, while at the same time Krallman comes to. Once again, the scientist surreptitiously trails behind the detective (who again ventures forth sans backup), and they head up to the roof after Gorilla Julio. And yes, the stage is now set for your classic ‘crowd on the street pointing up at the monster standing on the edge of the roof with a little girl in his arms’ finale. Needless to say, someone does shout, "Don’t shoot! He’s got a child with him!" Which is pretty obvious, actually, so you wouldn’t think you’d have to point this out.
Arthur arrives, pulls his gun and begins to crowd the monster, which given the whole standing-on-the-ledge-of-a-building-with-a-little-girl-in-his-arms thing probably isn’t the best idea. However, Krallman reveals his presence and pleads for a chance to talk to the beast. Given the nod, he edges out on the ledge and entreats Gorilla Julio to hand over the girl.
Things follow as you’d think, except that, and I must admit I was fairly astounded by this, Krallman doesn’t end up going over the edge with his boy. In fact, and OK this is surprising too, Gorilla Julio doesn’t go off the roof either. I guess they couldn’t afford a stuntman, or something. Instead Gorilla Julio shot from below after releasing the girl, and sprawls out on the roof for the obligatory Deathscene-Lap-Dissolve back to normal.
Still, it’s not very often that a Mad Scientist is left extant after his monstrous creation has been destroyed. (Good grief, you don’t think they were trying to set up a sequel, do you?) I guess we’re supposed to find him all sympathetic as he blubbers over his son’s body, but really, about ten people were horribly killed because of him, and one person he directly murdered. So cry me a river, Doc.
I guess I’m pretty cold-hearted, though. For as Our Hero and Lucy sit in a car on a soundstage and pretend to drive away, the recent events inspire trenchant and poetic musings of near-Shakespearian profundity:
Arthur: "Hmm, poor fool. The desire to save his son from
death was the cause of so many people suffering."
I can’t really add anything to that.
-by Ken Begg