Ape-Man Movies (genre)

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Germany as an ape-monster from a horror film....


The villain (or a creepy house) hides a killer ape-man in the basement, laboratory, etc.


Film List

  • "Balaoo the Demon Baboon (1913 short)" - An ape turned into a near-human by a mad scientist stalks the scientist's niece....
  • Heart of Africa (1915 film) - A documentary about the first white woman to explore Africa; footage from this film would re-appear in later low-budget jungle films, including Ingagi (1931)
  • Go & Get it (1920 film) - (comedy, horror, mystery) An intrepid newspaper reporter attempts to solve a series of murders committed by a gorilla carrying the transplanted brain of a human.
  • A Blind Bargain (1922 film) - Lon Chaney performs two roles: Doctor Lamb, a mad surgeon who's doing experiments on human bodies, and his crippled and apish assistant, the result of his first experiment.
  • Circus Kid (1928 film) - A youth runs away from an abusive orphanage to join a circus, where he befriends Zozo, the killer gorilla....
  • King of the Kongo (1929 film) - A secret service agent and a mysterious women searching for missing friends and family encounter ivory smugglers and a killer ape....
  • Ingagi (1931 film) - An expedition enters an area of the Congo jungle to investigate reports of a gorilla-worshiping tribe; they eventually come upon the tribe they sought, only to watch as a virgin is sacrificed to a huge gorilla, who takes her away, and the expedition follows the gorilla in an attempt to save the woman.
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932 film) - Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, with Bela Lugosi. A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.
  • King Kong (1933 film) (IMDB) ([ Watch]) - A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
  • The Ape (1940 film) - A vicious circus ape has broken out of its cage, and is terrorizing towns people; it soon crosses paths with a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman's polio, requiring spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum.
  • Son of Ingagi (1940 film) (Full movie) (Wikipedia) (IMDb) Review at Black Classic Movies (link) Review at Black Horror Movies (link) Review at A Side Order of Ninjas (link) Review(?) by D. Cairns at Shadowplay (link) Review by Dave Sindelar at Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings (link) Review by Edward Larsen Terkelsen at The Film Palace (link) Review by Paghat the Ratgirl at Wild Realm Film Reviews (link) - A newlywed couple is visited by a strange old woman who harbors a secret about the young girl's father.
  • Jungle Woman (1944 film) Review by Dan Stumpf at Mystery File (link) - Paula the ape woman from Captive Wild Woman is alive and well, and running around a creepy old sanitarium run by the kindly Dr. Fletcher, reverting to her true gorilla form every once in a while to kill somebody.
  • Nabonga (1944 film) - When a treasure hunter seeks a downed airplane in the jungles of Africa, he encounters one of the passenger's young daughter, now fully grown, and with a gorilla protector....
  • Return of the Ape Man (1944 film) - (with John Carradine and Bela Lugosi) While on an Arctic expedition, two scientists find the frozen body of a prehistoric caveman. They bring him home to their laboratory, where they conclude that the logical thing to do next would be to transplant a human brain into the caveman body....
  • Mighty Joe Young (1949 film) - A young woman who has raised a giant gorilla from an infant brings him to Hollywood years later seeking her fortune in order to save her family's ranch.
  • Mark of the Gorilla (1950 film) - (with Johnny Weismuller) Nazis team up with Great Apes to search African ruins for gold, and Jungle Jim must stop them.
  • Bride of the Gorilla (1951 film) - A man marries a plantation heiress then begins having strange dreams. Is he transforming into a jungle beast or just going nuts?
  • Killer Ape (1953 film) - (with Johnny Weismuller) Nasty white hunters are testing out their germ warfare weapons using wild animals in Africa until they run into Jungle Jim.
  • Gorilla at Large (1954 film) - At a carnival called the Garden of Evil, a man is murdered, apparently by a gorilla... or someone in a gorilla suit.
  • Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954 film) - After several women are murdered, the police are baffled who the suspect is. All evidence points to Dupin, but soon it becomes apparent that it is something that is stronger and more deadlier than man: a hypnotized ape!
  • Untamed Mistress (1956 film) - (with Buster Crabbe) Two men search the jungle for a woman who has been captured by a tribe of murderous gorillas. When they finally find her, they must fight off attacks by the gorillas, who are determined to keep her.
  • The Man Without a Body (1957 film) - A wealthy businessman with a brain tumor seeks medical help from a scientist experimenting with transplanting monkey heads on different monkey bodies; the businessman then schemes to steal the head of Nostradamus from the prophet's crypt, and transplant the prophet's brain into his own body....
  • Night of the Bloody Apes (1969 film) - A low budget Mexican horror film about a female wrestler wearing a red devil/cat woman costume, a surgeon tries to cure his son's leukemia by giving him the heart of an ape, and the son who becomes a nasty, pajama-clad ape-man who, suddenly played by a hairy man twice the original actor's size, goes around assaulting and murdering nubile women.
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971 film) - Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe. Paris...at the turn of the century: Inspector Vidocq investigates a series of unexplained murders at a Grand Guignol-type theatre... where the players have suddenly become real-life victims.
  • Konga (1961 film) - A missing scientist's experiments at growing super-sized plants and animals produces a giant killer chimpanzee that runs amok in London.
  • The Mighty Gorga (1969 film) - A circus manager leads a band of intrepid explorers to an African plateau where a giant gorilla is rumored to live.
  • King Kong (1976 film) - A petroleum exploration expedition comes to an isolated island and encounters a colossal giant gorilla.
  • A*P*E (1976 film) - A newly discovered 36-foot gorilla escapes from a freighter off the coast of Korea. At the same time an American actress is filming a movie in the country. Chaos ensues as the ape kidnaps her and rampages through Seoul.
  • Goliathon (1977 film) (AKA The Mighty Peking Man) - A giant Himalayan ape-man tries to save a sexy Russian jungle woman from a sleazy show-biz promoter.
  • Altered States (1980 film) - A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.
  • Congo (1995 film) - When an expedition to the African Congo ends in disaster, a new team is assembled to find out what went wrong, and then meets a deadly tribe of savage intelligent apes.
  • Instinct (1999 film) - When a noted anthropologist who left society to live in the jungle is imprisoned for the murders of some poachers, it's up to a young psychiatrist to get through to him and discover a terrifying secret about the nature of humanity....
  • King Kong (2005 film) (link) - Dir. Peter Jackson. A movie crew, travelling to a mysterious island to shoot their picture, encounter a furious gorilla, taking their leading actress and forming a special relationship with her, protecting her at all costs.
  • King of the Lost World (2005 film) - Survivors of a plane crash in the Amazon encounter giant scorpions, dragons and a gorilla.
  • Kong: Skull Island (2017 film) - A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

"Lovecraftian" Analysis

The "Ape in the Basement" appears to be a relative of the old Gothic trope of a maniac in the attic, mixed with a poor understanding of Darwinian Evolution, and perhaps a few (or in a couple cases, many) unfortunate implications concerning race and "miscegenation".

These elements would of course have had to have appealed to Lovecraft sooner or later, and Lovecraft does appear more than once to have produced stories dabbling in this genre, including: "Facts concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (fiction)", "The White Ape (fiction)", and a particularly unfortunate installment of "Herbert West: Re-Animator (fiction)".....

Of course, some of the same unfortunate implications about evolution and race that might have attracted Lovecraft to this theme could make it awkward for all but the campiest adaptations to RPG Scenario for modern audiences.

Monkey Gland Transplants

Note that the "monkey gland" fad hinted at in the plots of a related genre of horror movies was actually based on a truth stranger than fiction: a Dr. Serge Voronoff, after noting the "obesity, lack of body hair, and broad pelvises, as well as their flaccid muscles, lethargic movements, memory problems, and lowered intelligence" of eunuchs during a trip to Egypt, concluded that the secrets of youth, vitality, intelligence, masculinity, and immortality were to be found in the glands of animals, leading to a series of experiments in the 1920s and 1930s in which the doctor injected himself with ground guinea pig testicles, and sewed various "monkey glands" into "idiots" housed in mental institutions; public interest in clandestine operations transplanting animal glands into rich patrons would soon provide the doctor with sufficient funds to found a secret preserve for hunting apes in Africa and build himself a castle in the mountains worthy of a mad scientist, complete with a secret zoo full of apes to obtain the necessary glands from and a laboratory for performing his bizarre experiments and transplants; in spite of the occasional denunciations of critics (which sometimes went as far as to suggest the possibility that the grafts of "monkey testicles" would result in men devolving into apes), Voronoff's procedures would be performed thousands of times until science marched on.... Some examples of "monkey gland" movies:

  • "The Doctor's Experiment (1908 short)" (AKA "The Doctor's Experiment: or Reversing Darwin's Theory") - Patients behave like apes after being given monkey-gland injections.
  • Captive Wild Woman (1943 film) (Full movie) (Wikipedia) (IMDb) - An insane scientist doing experimentation in glandular research becomes obsessed with transforming a female gorilla into a human... even though it costs human life.
    • Video Review by Joe Dante at Trailers from Hell (link) REview at And You Call Yourself a Scientist!? (link) Review by Graeme Clark at The Spinning Image (5/10 Stars) (link) Review by Mark Cole at Rivets on the Poster (link) Review by Dave Sindelar at Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings (link) Review by Dan Stumpf at Mystery File (link) Review by Janne Wass at Scifist (5/10 Stars) (link)
  • The Man in Half Moon Street (1945 film) (link), (Wikipedia) - A scientist who has found a way to prolong life (he is 120 years old) finds himself in a dilemma: he has fallen in love, and he has also discovered that if he doesn't get new glands, he will die.
    • Review by David Sindelar at Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings (link)
  • The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959 film) (Trailer) (IMDb) (Wikipedia) - A centenarian artist and scientist in 1890 Paris maintains his youth and health by periodically replacing a gland with that of a living person; a remake of The Man in Half Moon Street (1945 film).
    • Review by Shaun Anderson at The Celluloid Highway (link), Emma Bung at Anna, Look! (7/10) (link), Review by Kevin Matthews at For It Is Man's Number (6/10) (link), Andy Winward at But We're British! (2/5) (link)

Associated Mythos Elements

  • setting: perhaps better suited to a Pulp Cthulhu game than a more traditional horror setting....
  • race: "Frazetta Man" (including Gnophkeh, Voormis, and others....)

Keeper Notes

  • A series of mysterious crimes involving surgically-altered apes with human brains leads to a bizarre plot involving the theft of Nostradamus' head and a rich cultist's unconventional attempts at "curing" his brain tumor via brain transplant.... (The Man Without a Body)
  • A mad scientist who has been kidnapping Gnophkehs, Voormis, or other ape-men to harvest their glands for use in rejuvenating, healing, or other serums draws their revenge in the form of any of your favorite Lovecraftian horrors, while the trail of bodies leads investigators to the scientist's laboratory... (any of the "monkey gland" movies)
  • An expedition to one of the Darkest Corners of the Earth in search of a legendary giant/intelligent/whatever ape leads an expedition of adventurers into such dangers as lost cities, monstrous giant insects/reptiles/whatever, cannibal Tcho-tcho tribes, evil cultists/poachers/industrialists/scientists/developers, and more... (King Kong and its various rip-offs)
  • A scientists experiments with occultism, psychedelic drugs, monkey glands, astral projection, past life regression, mind transfer, etc. cause him to revert into a primitive, killer man-ape after he experiments on himself... (Altered States and various earlier mad scientist/monkey-gland/brain-transplant movies)
  • An expedition to search for the lost heir to a fortune finds follows reports of a "white ape" in the jungles to a Jungle Boy/Girl who has been raised by a tribe of intelligent apes in a primeval city of adventure surrounded by and filled with jungle dangers and Mythos horrors... (any of the huge number of Tarzan, "jungle boy", and "jungle girl" movies....)

General Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Synopses (SPOILERS)