Plot: Professor Dexter (Bela Lugosi) is a genius, but he is also so ambitious that he often pushes further than he should. After all, he knows that to make significant breaks in science, you sometimes have to take bold risks. He has a plan in mind for a recently discovered frozen caveman that involves such a risk, but he will have to further than he ever has before. The thawed caveman has great potential to advance knowledge of the past, but is unable to speak and behaves in a primitive fashion, as you might expect from an ancient relic. But Dexter believes if he can transplant a modern human brain into the caveman, it could enable the man to share his knowledge about the past and the world in those distant times. Of course, such an experiment would require a human brain and since he has no volunteers, he opts for an unwilling participant. But even if the plan works, will it yield the results Dexter is confident about, or will it leads to some wild, unexpected consequences?
Entertainment Value: This little b movie boasts Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist, so for fans of classic horror and b movies, Return of the Ape Man has some appeal right off the bat. Lugosi squares off with fellow genre legend John Carradine as rival scientists, which is a fun premise, I think. Lugosi is an ice cold man of science, willing to do whatever it takes to advance knowledge, which is fun to watch. Of course, this doesn’t rank with his best efforts, but Lugosi doesn’t phone in here, either. Carradine is solid as well, while others on the roster include Frank Moran, Eddy Chandler, and Teala Loring, among others. The performance are passable, with Moran in a goofy role as the unfrozen caveman as a bright spot. I should mention that while Lugosi was also in The Ape Man, this not a sequel to that movie, despite the titles involved. This is obviously low rent, cheap b movie type stuff, but I think there’s some fun to be had here. Fans of Lugosi should appreciate his sinister turn here, while it radiates old school, low budget horror vibes throughout. The movie also runs just over an hour, so it is brisk and lively with no real downtime. So if you’re a fan of Lugosi, Carradine, or old school, low rent b movies, give this one a shot.
No nakedness. No blood. This is a 40s b movie, so the lack of those elements should come as no surprise. The ape man causes some minor chaos at points, but never delves into wild violence or the like. The dialogue is mostly serious, with some unintentional camp at times. Lugosi is a lot of fun as the dark scientist, so his tunnel vision leads to some fun exchanges, especially with Carradine. But aside from that and some minor melodrama here and there, this is mostly serious, run of the mill lines with some science lingo tossed in as spice. In terms of craziness, we have the ridiculous ape man running wild, but that’s about it. But while this one doesn’t run off the rails, it provides some solid b movie fun.
Overall Insanity: 1/10