The Monster and the Girl (1941)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The Monster and the Girl is definitely one of the strangest pictures ever made. And when one hears what the plot is, one expects it to be one of the worst films ever made. Surprisingly, Monster turns out to be a fairly effective and entertaining little "B" flick -- and not one that gets by just on camp value. To be sure, there's no way that one is not going to roll one's eyes at some of the plot twists, and there's no getting around the fact that the story is outlandish or that the screenplay is often scattershot. That said, Monster's screenplay has some very interesting points, including a mixture of noir and horror which, while not totally successful, offers some rewards, as well as its nimble manner in skirting the Code's prohibition against prostitution. With one exception, the cast is also much better than one usually finds in horror films of this type. Phillip Terry as the eventual brain donor is boring and inept, but Ellen Drew does very well indeed -- and this woman knows how to emerge from the mist like nobody's business. George Zucco is typically good as the maddish scientist, and the villains, especially Paul Lukas, are appropriately villainous. What is truly surprising is how good Charles Gemora is as the ape; though obviously limited by the monkey suit he wears, he makes for a most convincing and expressive simian. Stuart Heisler's direction is lively and totally committed; his work gives no sign that he is not approaching this story with total seriousness, and he's aided by good atmospheric contributions from Victor Milner.