The Bela Lugosi Shockfest “Return of the Ape Man” Lives Again

Just released to DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films, Return of the Ape Man is Bela Lugosi‘s most interesting collaboration with Monogram Pictures — for whom he made several films in the early 1940s. Looking to prove their widely decried theories on cryogenics, researchers Dexter (Lugosi) and Gilmore (John Carradine) returned from the Arctic with the frozen form of a caveman (Frank Moran)…and succeeded in reviving him. With the primitive’s capacity for reason gone, however, Dexter concluded that a brain transplant would be a proper fix…and that the donor’s willingness wouldn’t be an issue. Second-bill shockfest co-stars Teala Loring, Tod Andrews. Fun fact: George Zucco, despite having bowed out from the production, still got billing in the final product!

A staple of Saturday afternoon Creature Double Feature-type programming, Return of the Ape Man later fell into obscurity, only to be rescued by Olive for this new home video release. At a fast-moving 60 minutes, the film serves as a terrific warm up for an evening of schlock horror fun. Make no mistake, this is not a classic piece of cinematic art a la Psycho or any of the Universal Monster efforts. But for a breezy, fun fright flick, you can’t go wrong with Return of the Ape Man.