Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)

“Don’t mind my friend; he has a one-syllable brain.”

A pair of entertainers (Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo) parachute onto an island, where Mitchell falls in love with the beautiful, college-educated daughter (Charlita) of the island’s chief (Al Kikume). But when the island’s resident mad scientist (Bela Lugosi) finds out about their affair, he jealously plots to turn Mitchell into a gorilla.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Bela Lugosi Films
  • Comedy
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Primates
  • South Sea Islands

After sitting through two of William “One Shot” Beaudine’s notoriously titled, infamously awful horror-western hybrids, I honestly thought I had witnessed the nadir of what this Z-grade director was capable of — but no; turns out I hadn’t. Last night, I had the misfortune of trying to sit through this earlier outing by Beaudine — and once again, its zany title really is all it has going for it. The film has two (supposed) selling points: it features Bela Lugosi in one of his final roles (and he does seem to be fully invested in the silly plot, for what that’s worth):

… and it stars a true historical curiosity — a pair of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis impersonators named Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo. Of the two, Mitchell is bland and eminently forgettable, while 17-year-old Petrillo — though eerily spot-on in his imitations of Lewis — sadly projects none of Lewis’s comedic gifts, and all of his irritating neuroses.

Despite the wackiness of its storyline, every single moment of this inane “comedy” is predictable far in advance, and not worth even a cursory glance.

Note: I felt enormous empathy while reading Dave Sindelar’s review of this film for his Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings site. He notes that he watched it for the first time out of curiosity, for the second time to verify that it really was as bad as he remembered it being, and for a third time to be able to review it. I thank my lucky stars that I hadn’t yet subjected myself to this movie, so that my one and only viewing happens to coincide with a review.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No; despite its bad-movie notoriety, this one truly is skippable — and I mean that. Don’t let curiosity get the better of you. Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)

  1. Crap. Harmless crap – as far as crap goes – but crap. (Bela pays attention & takes it seriously. Alas.) The last few minutes are a very welcome surprise, but still… Next…

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