(director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: Russ Bender/V.I. Voss; cinematographer: Frederick E. West; editor: Ronald Sinclair; cast: Paul Blaisdell (Monster), Mike Connors (Ted Bronson), Tom Conway (Dr. Roland Gerard), Giselle D’Arc (Singer), Jean Davis (Native Girl), Paul Dubov (Marcel), Marla English (Marilyn Blanchard), Lance Fuller (Rick/Harry), Mary Ellen Kay (Susan Gerard), Norman Willis (Harry West), Otis Greene (Bobo), Emmett E. Smith (Gandor), Martin Wilkins (Chaka): Runtime: 77; AIP; 1957)
“An entertaining nonsense film from AIP directed by the master of making the meaningless film, Edward L. Cahn.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An entertaining nonsense film from AIP directed by the master of making the meaningless film, Edward L. Cahn. It is one of those mad scientist in the jungle movies that is so bad, that it becomes funny to see just how bad it is. Tom Conway is Dr. Roland Gerard, living with a voodoo tribe and talking them into doing a voodoo spell on a native girl (Davis) while he dons a funny fur hat and injects her with a magic serum. He does it in the hopes of creating a super-being creature, which will lead to a super-being race to control the world. He tells the voodoo leader Chaka, that his subject now has the magic of the two worlds in her and a more powerful god will be created who will only listen to his commands.
There’s some savagely inane dialogue, which should add a chuckle or two. When Doc’s younger wife Susan (Mary Ellen Kay) questions what he is doing in the jungle and why she is kept away from the lab and treated like a prisoner, he tells her his plans are to bring back to the Western science world that once laughed at him his secret super-being which he will turn loose on them. She says, “You’re insane. He replies, “Never say that again.” And with inane dialogue like that and cheap looking props, as the film was obviously shot as cheaply as possible in the studio, there is no reason in the world to take this flick seriously. It makes no attempt to make things look realistic, and its story doesn’t even try to make sense.
In town, a poisonous couple properly suited for each other befriend Harry West (Norman Willis) who has hired a guide by mail, the rugged and stalwart Ted Bronson (Mike Connors), to take him out to voodoo territory. When the couple spot gold in a voodoo doll Harry has Marilyn Blanchard (Marla English), the more aggressive one, tells her companion Rick (Lance Fuller), that he better get Harry to take them along with him. When Harry refuses she gets the help of the corrupt bartender Marcel (Paul Dubov) to lure the vic into their room, and Marilyn kills Harry and takes his voodoo drawings. When the guide shows up, Rick poses as Harry. The bartender covers up the murder and is promised a share of the loot for his help when they return from their treasure hunt in voodoo territory.
Out in the woods, Doc realizes that Chaka is right he can’t make the native girl under his spell do what she wouldn’t ordinarily do in regular life. He finds this out when the natives spot the advancing party of Harry West and she can’t kill them. Doc releases the native girl to go back to her village as Chaka requested but she runs into Rick, who kills her. When her death is discovered by the tribe, they demand the white person who did it should be killed by a white person from his party. Marilyn has no trouble killing Rick. The Doc is quickly attracted to Marilyn, recognizing that they are birds of the same feather. She tells Doc she’s after the gold and is willing to go partners with him and further says, “What’s in it for you here, the usual!” Doc replies, “The very unusual.”
Doc talks Marilyn into going under the voodoo spell to become a high priestess and thereby the natives will allow her to walk away with the gold. Meanwhile Susan is kept a prisoner in the house, only trusting the servant Bobo to go back in town and get help for her to escape. But Gandor, the heavy-set guard overhears what Bobo is about to do and puts a spear in him when he tries to get help.
The voodoo tribe by this time have had enough of the white people and decide to sacrifice all of them, including Doc, to their gods. But Ted frees himself and Susan, and they escape. Marilyn becomes a monster (the monster is Paul Blaisdell in the same She Creature suit from the 1957 film, which is too silly to describe except for the blonde wig). The monster was substituted for Marilyn when she is under the spell. Marilyn, who came from the slums of Pittsburgh and has known no fear since she was two years old, is annoyed that Doc fooled her, that the gold was actually only clay. So she knocks Doc off and chases the natives away as she still thinks there might be gold. She stumbles around looking for it and falls into a boiling pit, where she is either dead or stuck in that never-dying state Doc put her in.
The funniest line in the film came from the original Harry West. Marilyn asks, “What are you doing in the jungle all by yourself?” Harry replies: “I’m going into the jungle to bring back a secret recipe for borscht.” There are a couple of more lines like this, which makes this film childishly funny. If you can accept the film on it own low level terms, this studio jungle film might be just your poison.
REVIEWED ON 5/26/2000 GRADE: C