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Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla
June 12, 2009 6:29 PM   Subscribe

A Horror Film that will Stiffen You with Laughter! The jungle is jumping, with gals, gags, and goofs! And a gorilla! It's not the set-up for an awkward joke, but an honest to goodness motion picture, starring Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist, and nightclub comedians Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo as themselves, though in roles approximating Martin and Lewis. It was the comedy duo's only movie (possibly due to the cease and desist request to Sammy Petrillo from Jerry Lewis), and was one of Bela Lugosi's last movies. Some classify this movie as a z-grade budget film, while others claim it to be staggeringly unfunny. But don't take their word for it. You can watch it all online, or download it from the Internet Archive.
posted by filthy light thief (17 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus, that's not Jerry Lewis? That's uncanny.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:46 PM on June 12, 2009


And the title is... what?

Oh. That is the title?

Wow.
posted by ardgedee at 7:16 PM on June 12, 2009


God DAMN you Metafilter. I'm so tired of watching bad movies, but you just keep suggesting them and I can't seem to help myself. Your ruining my life.
posted by Bageena at 7:19 PM on June 12, 2009


I've never seen this movie, and I really think I'm gonna be okay if I don't. But I have a soft spot in my heart for some of these bottom of the barrel Lugosi movies like Bride of the Monster. A good friend of mine and I wasted a lot of hours on movies like this in our misspent youth.

Nice post, but how could you do it without linking to the official Bela Lugosi web page: I bid you velcome!

I don't reading over your post again, this thing might be worth a look.
posted by marxchivist at 8:10 PM on June 12, 2009


I don't KNOW, reading over your post again, this thing might be worth a look.
posted by marxchivist at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2009


Just last week I was visiting my parents and going through their "donate to the library" pile of DVDs to see if anything was salvageable.

They had this film. Still in its original shrink-wrapped packaging.

It was a gift. A box set, to be precise. The Beast Box, to be even more precise.

Enthralled by the title, I was tempted to take it home. Somehow reason prevailed, and no doubt soon it will be donated to the library (along with the rest of "The Beast Box") for some lucky soul to stumble on it and discover a new delicious world of z-grade budget films.

But now, oh happy day, I have another chance to feast my eyes on this crazy-genre-smashup-poor-man's-Lewis.

As a side note, the same people who gave my parents "The Beast Box" also gave them Clint Eastwood Comedy: 4 Film Favorites. I'm not sure what this says about their taste in film, or what they assume my parents' taste to be. Either way, I can't wait to discover what box set this Christmas will bring.


posted by paisley sheep at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bela Lugosi's Dead
posted by mnb64 at 9:31 PM on June 12, 2009


A Horror Film that will Stiffen You with Laughter! The jungle is jumping, with gals, gags, and goofs! And a gorilla!

Isn't that the plot to to that crappy Michael Crichton movie?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2009


mnb64: Bela Lugosi's Dead

I think you mean undead.
posted by Drasher at 7:19 AM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the "staggeringly unfunny" link...

The script is stuffed full of lame gags, making its brief 74-minute running time feel about three times as long. In particular, Sammy Petrillo is excruciating to watch. I'd say he's like Jerry Lewis on coke, but we actually know what Jerry Lewis was like on coke, and he wasn't anywhere near as annoying as Sammy Petrillo.
posted by themadjuggler at 7:24 AM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bageena, I'll make it up to you, one of these days. I like good movies, too, I promise!

And the title is... what? Oh. That is the title?

Yes, I was rather excited, then less so upon seeing more. Apparently, the original title was White Woman of the Lost Jungle, but someone realized that this title said nothing of Bela Lugosi's presence in the movie.

Isn't that the plot to to that crappy Michael Crichton movie?

If only there was more intentional slapstick in that film. If only ...
posted by filthy light thief at 5:04 PM on June 13, 2009


Bela Lugosi's Dad
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:08 PM on June 13, 2009


As one myself, I love that Lugosi Jr. is an attorney. Imagine telling people, of course you've met my attorney, Bela Lugosi Junior . . . And there he is, looking the part.

Sammy Petrillo's interview was terrific, because he strikes me as a man who cheerfully tells his stories so many times that he comes to believe them.

So I went down and called The Variety from a candy store, and I asked them where Milton Berle rehearsed. And they said "He rehearses over at Nova Studios." So I went down to Nova and I told the security guys that I was Milton Berle's cousin and they gave me clearance to get on the set. Berle was rehearsing there with a whistle and a towel around his neck; he had a bunch of great writers there. I ran over to Berle and jumped right in his arms. And I started throwing lines at him. And every line that I threw at Berle, his comedy writers broke up, I mean they screamed.

This seems like something that happened in a movie. "We're amused and delighted by your fraud and security breach!"
posted by Countess Elena at 5:18 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dunno Countess, those were different times. I'm willing to believe his story. Plus, it seems like something that woulda/coulda happened on a Berle set.
posted by dejah420 at 7:22 PM on June 13, 2009


I love these threads. I've seen this for sale on Wal-Mart's dollar budget bin before. Last night I downloaded this movie and watched it last night with a friend. Wow. Poor Bela.

To think to make your living, not as Jerry Lewis (bad enough), but as a Jerry Lewis impersonator. Still, Petrillo seems to have a good attitude about it.
posted by JHarris at 5:47 AM on June 14, 2009


Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla was directed by William Beaudine, one hell of a prolific director and the master of editing in the camera. He directed over 350 films from the silent era to the early 70s, plus lots of television to boot (episodes of Mickey Mouse Club serials, etc.)

Two of his last films were low-budget attempts to merge the Western and horror genres, something so vitally needed in those dark times. The films had wonderfully ludicrous names: Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, starring John Carradine as "The Vampire" ("Dracula" only appears in the title) and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter which is seriously one of my favorite film titles of all time.

They're not very good movies, though Frankenstein's Daughter chews so much scenery that she's almost worth sitting through the entire thing for.
posted by Spatch at 5:55 AM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the additional details, Spatch. There are so many interesting stories around this movie, but I had to cut it off somewhere. I feel Beaudine could have a college course dedicated to him, or at least as a poster child for the transition from silent films to talkies (as how it went wrong for some).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:40 AM on June 15, 2009


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