Sat 15 Oct 2011
BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA. Realart, 1952. Bela Lugosi, Duke Mitchell, Sammy Petrillo, Charlita, Muriel Landers, Al Kikume. Director: William Beaudine.
Now here is a film that single-mindedly redefines the Bad Movie Genre. Admirers of Bad Films talk glowingly of the ineptitudes of Ed Wood or the excesses of DeMille, but BLMABG is that rarity, a pure, ugly, abomination of a film, a high-concept atrocity that has few equals and no betters (or Worsers) in the ranks of Awful Cinema.
Start with the basic premise of making a Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Picture — a dubious notion in itself. Only instead of Martin and Lewis, substitute the team of Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo, who spend the film doing godawful impressions of Dean and Jerry. And until you’ve seen a really bad impression of Jerry Lewis, you just haven’t lived.
Add to this the sight of poor, palsied, Bela Lugosi, clearly a sick man by this time, clinging to the bare shreds of his career.
Throw in a comic-relief monkey, a few men in cheap Ape Suits, set the whole thing on a back-lot Tropical Island, then wrap it around a tired, tired plot of Shipwrecked Zanies and a Mad Scientist.
And you still can’t picture how bad this movie is till you see it. Unlike the films of Ed Wood, BLMABG is suffused with a thin veneer of professionalism. The sets and photography have a nice look, and there are none of the Continuity Gaps so beloved by Wood aficionados.
Somehow, though, it makes it even worse to realize that Actual Filmmakers spent there time on this.
Needless to say, I loved it.