Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) – By Danny Runion

 Narration and stock footage show us the tropical island. 2 unconscious white men are found by natives and brought to the village. Nona, the extremely hot daughter of the chief, convinces the others not to kill them. Later, Nona discovers who the men are when they awaken. The worst Jerry Lewis impression ensues. Sammy and Duke fell out of airplane. The natives of Cola-Cola welcome them and plan a luau in their honor. At the luau, the typical dancing natives ensue. Sammy isn’t too happy that Duke has the uber-hot Nona. Well, Sammy gets introduced to the hefty Saloma, baby sister of Nona. Saloma keeps trying to fatten Sammy up. More horrid Jerry Lewis impression from Sammy occurs during the feast. Duke decides to serenade Nona with his unique song styling. The song “Deed I Do” isn’t known for a good reason because it is worse than the Wookie Life Day song.

The next day, Nona takes Duke and Sammy to Dr. Zabor’s castle. After the introductions, Sammy thinks Zabor is a vampire. The good doctor offers the castle’s hospitality to Duke and Sammy and is very happy to help them. Nona is working in the lab. She shoots Zabor’s indecent proposal. Before the discussion can go any farther, Duke and Sammy thank the doctor for his help. The good doctor tries to explain his experiments about studying evolution. Zabor can advance evolution in hours.

Zabor, Duke, and Nona are present at the next luau. Sammy is trying to keep Saloma from fattening him up. Nona and Duke sneak away. Zabor sends Chula, his servant, to spy on them. Sammy and Saloma leave but Sammy is trying to hide from his Pacific Island Passion flower. Chula spies on Duke and Nona who gives Duke a pre-engagement necklace. Zabor heads back to his castle and leaves the luau. Chula informs Zabor of what happened. Dr. Zabor broods before beginning working in the lab. He is able to finish his formula and injects Ramona the chimp who reverts to an infant state. Zabor is enthusiastic that he can turn a man into a gorilla. Chula is terrified he’ll be the test case. However, Zabor has a better test case to test.

Dr. Zabor plans for Chula knock Duke out and brings him back to the castle. Chula brings Duke in the lab and the experiment begins. The magic of time lapse photography shows how Duke changes into a gorilla.

Nona and Sammy enter the lab and spot the caged gorilla. Zabor claims the gorilla is actually an evolved chimp. Gorilla Duke rages in the cage. Sammy stays behind. Zabor and Nona will go back to the village. Gorilla Duke tries communicating with Sammy. They start playing charades? Sammy finds the chimp and Duke’s clothes. He can’t figure out what that means until Gorilla Duke begins singing “Deed I Do.” Sammy lets him out of the cage…While Sammy tries to fire up his single neuron to formulate a plan; Chula awakens and leaves the castle to warn Dr. Zabor.

The grunting of Gorilla Duke brings another gorilla. Sammy ponders the problem. Gorilla Duke runs off and real gorilla climbs into the room. Sammy tries to forcibly clothe the gorilla at first. He follows after Gorilla Duke when realizing his mistake. Running out of the castle, they knock down Zabor and Chula. Zabor gets his rifle to end the problem permanently.

The villagers panic when they spot Gorilla Duke with Sammy. He tries explaining what happened to Duke. Nona believes him for some unexplainable reason. Dr. Zabor arrives and is about to shoot Gorilla Duke when Sammy takes the bullet for him. Sammy dies.

Suddenly, Duke wakes Sammy up from a nightmare. They leave the dressing room and run into Nona with a gorilla actually a guy in gorilla suit. They head to the stage and past others from the island. The club owner, Bela Lugosi wants a better performance from them or else… The tribal dancers are led by Saloma who rushes up to Sammy to swap some spit who decides she’s not so bad after all. A few more bad lame Jerry Lewis jokes ensue before Duke assaults us with another song…

A great man said everything is better with ninjas. Whoever that great man has also said everything is better with monkeys, too. I don’t think that great man had the number of Bela Lugosi movies that had monkeys, apes, gorillas, or any type of simians in them. The Ape and the Ape Man won’t be remembered for the being Bela Lugosi’s better movies. Though, a Bela Lugosi ninja movie would be so sweet as to cause diabetic shock into the entire population of the world.

This is another William "One-Shot" Beaudine movie, nicknamed for only filming what was required for the scene and not filming retakes. After Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, I should have learned my lesson. Who am I kidding? I’d watch Billy the Kid Versus Dracula if I could find it. Just seeing a title like Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla is just too much temptation to keep me from watching it. The famous day for night shots in many real low budget movies at least weren’t as easy to spot as Ed Woods’ Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Bela Lugosi was his worst enemy when it came to movies. His attitude and drug addiction knocked him into the poverty row movies of the late 30s and for most of the 40s. By the 50s, Lugosi was so desperate to work he took the Bowery Boy movies and some other kid-friendly type movies besides a couple of Ed Wood movies including his final movie, Plan 9 From Outer Space. A number of low budget movies would have him to pretty much just play a role that would have everyone think "hey creepy Bela Lugosi…”

Mitchell and Petrillo were considered a poor man’s version of Martin and Lewis. Granted Sammy Petrillo could do a Jerry Lewis impression to the point you would think the Nutty Professor himself was crying "NICE LADY!!" if you had been on a Mountain Dew bender for a couple of days coming off a No-Doze jag. Duke Mitchell somehow lacks the charisma, coolness, and singing ability of Dean Martin.


Rogue Reviewers Roundtable Topic: Spank the Monkey

Danny’s Review Site: Side Order of Ninjas