Captive Wild Woman (1943)

Captive Wild Woman (1943)

“What will you have? A human form with animal instincts!”

A mad scientist (John Carradine) transforms an ape (Ray Corrigan) into a beautiful but mute woman (Acquanetta) with a strange power over wild animals. She provides invaluable assistance to a circus performer (Milburn Stone) working with lions and tigers, but seeks jealous revenge when she realizes he’s already in love with his fiancee (Evelyn Ankers).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Carnivals and Circuses
  • Edward Dmytryk Films
  • Horror Films
  • John Carradine Films
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Primates

The first of three “ape woman” sci-fi/horror flicks made for Universal Studios during the early ’40s, this innocuous potboiler features statuesque B-actress “Acquanetta” — a.k.a. “The Venezuelan Volcano” (despite being born in Cheyenne, Wyoming):

— co-starring with character actor Milburn Stone (cast because of his resemblance to real-life trainer Clyde Beatty) and the ever-reliable John Carradine as a villainous medical kook determined to commit glandular manipulation on his “patients”.

There’s little to the hour-long story, which is essentially concerned with relating the folly and danger — a la The Island of Lost Souls (1933) — of attempting to merge animal and human “forces”:

It evokes the general aura of Val Lewton’s RKO films, but without their psychological depth. Instead, it’s padded out by plenty of footage of Stone (actually Beatty) working with wild tigers and lions — footage which at times seems to go on for a bit too long. With that said, director Edward Dmytryk manages to add some atmosphere to the proceedings, and fans of the genre will certainly be curious to check it out once.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • John Carradine as Dr. Walters

Must See?
No – but it’s worth a look by fans of Universal horror flicks.


One thought on “Captive Wild Woman (1943)

  1. Not a must.

    First viewing. Competently directed by Dmytryk, this is simply a mildly interesting entry in the mad scientist genre. Fans of such flicks won’t find anything new here, really, but it’s diverting.

    Decades later, Carradine would, of course, send-up his ‘CWW’ performance deliciously in Woody Allen’s ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…’.

    As for Acquanetta (from which we eventually got the hair-care product Aqua-Net?!)…she’s all big eyes and foreboding demeanor…and utters not one word (which none of the other characters either mentions or finds unusual).

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