Written by: Carroll Jenkins on May 28th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, February 23rd, 1958
Director: Adrian Weiss
Writer: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Cast: Charlotte Austin, Lance Fuller, Johnny Roth, William Justine, Gil Frye, Jeanne Gerson, Steve Calvert, Trustin Howard, Eve Brent, Bhogwan Singh
Approximate running time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: VCI
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.99
Synopsis: A bride is surprised to find her new husband keeps a gorilla in a secret basement. The gorilla fancies her quite a bit, too much in fact. On the wedding night it breaks free, invades the honeymoon suite, sniffs Laura and rips her clothes off (in best King Kong fashion). The husband doesn’t much appreciate this and shoots him dead. The resulting trauma gives Laura lots of nightmares, so a hypno-therapist discovers through regression sessions that Laura was a gorilla in a past life. Despite the doctor’s sage advice, they go on safari anyway.
Bride and the Beast was scripted by Ed Wood Jr. during his most celebrated period, between Bride of the Monster and Plan Nine From Outer Space (as was The Violent Years). Producer Adrian Weiss came upon quantities of jungle footage and determined to build a film around them. This is a very low budget picture with lots of stock footage, but Adrian Weiss is no Ed Wood Jr. His editing is competent and there were reasonable efforts made at cohesion. He demonstrates some flourishes by incorporating interesting techniques and effects throughout the story (especially during dreams and flashbacks). The acting is unremarkable, but also not especially lacking.
If it’s not schlocky, then what? The first 20 minutes present secret sliding panels, gorillas lusting for human females, and lots of angora sweaters. Laura writhes and squirms in bed while dreaming of gorillas and jungles. This section is worth the price of admission. Next comes the regression therapy session, the voyage to Africa (and another angora sweater), followed by a routine jungle adventure. Once the killer tigers are eliminated, we’ve about 10 minutes left for the resolution of the reincarnated Gorilla story.
The quality of the presentation exceeds expectations here – anamorphic widescreen from the original 35mm negative! It is interlaced, and there are no subtitles or captions. Framing appears spot on, the only one to get his head cropped off was a giraffe. There’s also an audio commentary. The second feature, White Gorilla is terribly bad, but induces stupor rather than amusement. Fragments of the first chapter of the silent film that was incorporated into this mess are worth a glimpse.
The best extras here are the seven jungle themed trailers, including those for Bride And The Beast and White Gorilla. Along with some tribal toplessness there are some unexpected genre stars here, including Anita Page, William Wellman, Jr., and June Wilkinson.
A film based on an Ed Wood script practically gets a special edition, so go ape!