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  Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla Too Much Monkey Business
Year: 1952
Director: William Beaudine
Stars: Duke Mitchell, Sammy Petrillo, Bela Lugosi, Charlita, Muriel Landers, Al Kikume, Mickey Simpson
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo are a nightclub act - Duke sings, Sammy tells the jokes - who accidentally fall out of a plane over the Pacific Ocean. Luckily, they were wearing parachutes and land on a remote jungle island where they make friends with the natives. Unfortunately, there's no way off the island; however, they do meet up with scientist Dr Zabor (Bela Lugosi) who is performing experiments on apes and monkeys... but all is not what it seems...

Are you a fan of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies? If so, did you ever wish they could have teamed up with Bela Lugosi for one film? Well, here's the next best thing, because what you get here is a silly mad scientist horror comedy, written by Tim Ryan, starring Lugosi (with his name in the title, no less) and a double act who do their very best to imitate Martin and Lewis. Duke Mitchell is smooth, gets the girl and sings adequately, although you wouldn't mistake him for the real thing, but Sammy Petrillo is something else entirely.

Petrillo not only looks just like Jerry Lewis, but he sounds like him, all the facial expressions and body language are perfectly rendered, and if you didn't know any better you'd swear he really was Jerry Lewis. Now, how impressed you are by Petrillo depends on how much you like the original, because this is basically a low budget version of the comedies that celebrated team made. The same jungle set is used over and over again, the native extras look like they come from Brooklyn too, and the whole operation isn't exactly slick.

Laughs are thin on the ground, as is the plotting. There is some amusement to be had seeing Petrillo clap Lugosi on the back and shout, "Hiya Pop!", but the rest of the gags are more along the lines of Petrillo being chased around by a fat girl, the sister of the princess that Duke has his eye on. Then there's a set of routines where Sammy has to interact with the trained chimp (which tries to bite him at one point!) that Dr Zabor is holding in his laboratory.

But what of the titular gorilla? Dr Zabor is cooking up a serum, which, in the sort of experiment you only get in mad scientist movies, will send the victim a few steps down the evolutionary ladder - Ramona the chimp gets transformed into a cheeky monkey, for instance. Now you'd expect Sammy to be the guinea pig for the human tests, but Zabor injects Duke instead, because Zabor sees him as a rival for the princess's affections. This leads to the only really funny joke - to identify himself as Duke, the gorilla sings! Is it worth watching for that? Well, it's worth watching for Petrillo's act, but this is largely a curio. And Bela? He does his best in reduced circumstances. Cop out ending, too.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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