The Ape (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ape (1940)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Ape Photos

Movie Info

What begins as an honest effort at discovering a cure for polio, ends up becoming a frenzied quest costing innocent lives. When the good doctor Bernard Adrian (Boris Karloff) finds that the cure depends upon sizable amounts of serum found only in upper primate spinal columns, he goes a little overboard and kills an escaped circus ape and goes about murdering local folks to get the precious fluid. His mission is maddened because he has recently suffered the loss of his beloved daughter. Not one of Karloff's premier efforts, this one will probably please only his ardent admirers.

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Boris Karloff
as Dr. Bernard Adrian
Maris Wrixon
as Miss Frances Clifford
Gertrude W. Hoffman
as Mrs. Clifford
Henry Hall
as Sheriff Jeff Halliday
Gertrude Hoffman
as Jane, Adrian's Housekeeper
Gene O'Donnell
as Danny Foster
Jessie Arnold
as Mrs. Brill
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Critic Reviews for The Ape

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

Boris Karloff is the prime draw in The Ape, even if this 62-minute effort, co-written by horrormeister Curt Siodmak, is largely unworthy of its star.

October 29, 2020 | Full Review…

This thoroughly silly movie is worth seeing mainly for a delightfully touching, hammy performance by Boris Karloff in the lead role.

October 24, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A lesser effort in Karloff's doctor cycle.

October 24, 2020 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Silly as all the other Boris Karloff mad scientist pics, but just as entertaining.

November 3, 2009 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

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December 31, 2004 | Full Review…

Great silly premise with Karloff skinning an ape and wearing the suit, but boring.

October 1, 2003 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for The Ape


In small town America scientists and experiments are too be feared. Did Curt Siodmak actually write anything good? Despite his being such a well known horror movie writer I have yet to see it. The dialog and visual composition are completely mundane and uninspired. The story contains a random vile lawyer character whose involvement is left incomplete. Perhaps some footage is missing of him getting his dues in 1930's movie code fashion. The cheap digital transfer I watched did have tons of missing fragments of the film and audio track. A circus passes through town and a gorilla (man in a suit of course) escapes. The ape gets stabbed a couple times and shot. Is it dead or alive? Paralyzed Frances (Wrixon) and mechanic Danny (O'Donnell) are young sweethearts. Dr. Adrian (Karloff) cares for Frances and wants to allow her to walk again. A sheriff leads a posse of bumpkins to track the gorilla and hound the suspicious doctor. The twist ending is preposterous.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer


Boris Karloff is a kindhearted but unethical doctor trying to cure paralysis, and there's also an escaped circus ape running around killing people, and the two plotlines collide in a stupid way. Karloff can't save this ridiculous yet dull film, as the part makes him so likable he doesn't get the chance to do what he does best.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer


Karloff is his usual standout but despite certain interesting touches the film is quite bad. It's interesting how much it mirrors the far, far superior "The Body Snatcher", however, which features my favorite of Mr. Pratt's performances.

Eduardo C
Eduardo C

Super Reviewer

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