Saturday, June 12, 2010

With Paula, it truly is a glandular problem

Captive Wild Woman (1943)
Starring: John Carradine, Milburn Stone, Lloyd Carrigan, Acquanetta, Evelyn Ankers, Fay Helm, and Ray Corrigan
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A mad genius (Carradine) proves the correctness of his cutting-edge theories in glandular functions by transforming a gorilla into a shapely young woman he names Paula (Acquanetta). Tragedy and death ensue.


The more one watches horror and sci-fi films from the 1940s, the more obvious it is why Universal's attempt to recapture the magical horror profits that carried them through the depression in the 1930s failed. Too many of the films from this "revival period" are no different than the sort of nonsense that was issuing forth from small studios like Monogram and PRC; instead of living up to greatness of "The Mummy" and "The Invisible Man," Universal production executives and directors instead lowered themselves to the level of those who had followed on their coattails.

When compared to the classics of the 1930s, or even "Ghost of Frankenstein" and "The Wolfman" from the 1940s--something the modern-day Universal marketeers are encouraging us to do by including this film is DVD multipack titled "Universal Horror: Classic Movie Archive"--this movie falls woefully short. It's more in the league of low-budget efforts like "The Devil Bat" or "The Monster Maker," just to pick two movies about mad scientists at random. That is a serious step down from the great horror shows of the 1930s.

While disappointing when considered in the light of the cinematic greatness that Universal had once brought to the world, "Captive Wild Woman" is well-acted and well-filmed, with a fast pace to carry us quickly through the story. While Carradine is no Bela Lugosi or Lionel Atwill, he does a decent enough job as the mad doctor at the heart of the story, and the exotic beauty of Acquanetta makes the movie more enjoyable as well. This is not a "classic" in any sense other than it's an old movie, but it's worth checking out if you like the fantastic pulp-fiction science of the early sci-fi and horror flicks.



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