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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Return of the Ape Man [Blu-ray]


(Phil Rosen, 1944)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Banner Productions

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 0:59:53.798

Disc Size: 15,307,809,948 bytes

Feature Size: 15,116,820,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 31st, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1888 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1888 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), None



• None





Description: The titular ape man (incarnated by Frank Moran, The Corpse Vanishes, and fleetingly by George Zucco, Voodoo Man) is featured alongside Bela Lugosi (Dracula), John Carradine (Voodoo Man) and Mary Currier (Joan of Arc) in the fright fest Return of the Ape Man.

Directed by Philip Rosen (Murder by Invitation), Return of the Ape Man stars Lugosi as Professor Dexter, the doctor who put the mad in mad scientist. On the verge of restoring a recently unearthed simian from its frozen sleep, Dexter’s plans for the apesicle will have chilling consequences when he sets about transplanting a human brain into his frozen find. With unwitting (and unwilling) help from fellow scientist Professor Gilmore (Carradine), Dexter hopes to unravel the mystery of the “missing link.”

Return of the Ape Man also features Michael Ames (From Hell It Came), Judith Gibson (Bluebeard), Ed Chandler (The Ghost and the Guest) and Ernie Adams (Invisible Ghost).



The Film:

The movie opens with a newspaper headline about the ongoing mysterious disappearance of a notorious "tramp." Cut to a laboratory, where professors Dexter (Bela Lugosi) and Gilmore (John Carradine) are removing a body from an odd-looking glass-walled chamber. They lay him out on a table, inject him with something, and pretty soon the man is sitting up and rubbing his head, to the obvious delight of the scientists. The subject, obviously the tramp of the newspaper story, wonders how long he was unconscious. Dexter and Gilmore just smile knowingly. Dexter gives him some money and sends him on his way. We learn that he'd been kidnapped by the unethical scientists four months previously, and had been frozen in suspended animation all that time.

Excerpt from FilmFromBeyond located HERE

Obsessed by the idea of eternal life, Professor Dexter and his fellow researcher, Professor John Gilmore, awaken a tramp they have frozen in slumber for four months. To prove his theory that life can be sustained indefinitely, Dexter decides to travel to the Arctic to uncover a prehistoric man who has been imprisoned in the ice for a millennium. After a grueling ten-month search, Dexter and Gilmore unearth a body and transport it back to Dexter's laboratory. Upon defrosting the creature, the scientists discover that it is neither man nor beast, lacking the basic abilities of speech and reason. To civilize the creature, Dexter decides to transplant a portion of a modern man's brain into its skull.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Return of the Ape Man arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered and can look very poor in the first half of the film - marks, damage, artifacts, flickering contrast etc. It's very inconsistent - having some later scenes that look far more reasonable. The grain is heavy and clunky, which I don't mind so much, but overall this is far below Olive's standard for vintage films. It looks like the source is compromised. The Blu-ray offers a weak in-motion, presentation. Beware.




















Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master mono (24-bit) track at 1888 kbps. There is no real score (some generic action-based music in spots.) It is all pretty unremarkable with dialogue bordering on being inaudible - often sounding hollow with no depth. To counter this there are optional, yellow, subtitles (see sample) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.



Well, what can you say? Return of the Ape Man is awful. And I never got that 'so bad it's good' enjoyment. This is a real cheapie and, where I usually gravitate to titles like this, I was indifferent to the story. Very poor, imo. Effects are laughable. The Blu-ray presentation didn't help with any appreciation either. No charm at all. Pass. 

Gary Tooze

October 27th, 2017


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