acquanetta, doglass dumbrille, J. Carroll Naish, jungle woman, Universal Horror, universal pictures
Following on from the relative hit of Captive Wild Woman the year before, Universal felt strongly that they had a potential hit series on their hands, especially with “exotic beauty” Acquanetta in their stable to recreate her character of Paula Dupree aka The Ape Woman.
Universal later revealed that Jungle Woman was an ashamed attempt to rewrite Cat People with a woman transforming into an ape instead of a leopard.
Naturally this would be difficult to translate as the sexual feline factor is lost and as such, rewrites were put in place to make the transition psychological instead.
J. Carrol Naish plays a more than accomplished role as Dr. Carl Fletcher, whose character is in stark contrast to John Carradine’s warped and twisted Dr. Sigmund Walters from the previous film.
This is a deliberate ploy on the part of the screenwriters, Bernard L. Schubert, Henry Sucher and Edward Dein as they present Dr Fletcher on trial for the murder of Paula Dupree at the start of the film, leaving the audience to question how genuine his plee of innocence claims to be. This is weighted even more so when he professes his guilt until he is then forced to tell the true story through a feature length flashback.
The trouble is that the plot is essentially an incredibly weak one and doesn’t offer a lot in expanding the universe or subjecting any real terror on the audience.
The film finds Paula Dupree in an insane asylum having been taken under Dr. Fletcher’s wing after he witnesses the climax of the last film.
Dr. Fletcher is fascinated by this animal magnetism that Paula presents, but fails to realise the true threat that she possesses, especially as her jealousy is fuelled once more when she falls for Bob (Douglass Dumbrille).
Unfortunately, Bob only has eyes for Joan (Lois Collier), Dr Fletcher’s daughter and with it our love triangle is formed.
The beats are all too familiar and the film shuffles along without any real purpose or direction, so when the inevitable conclusion does arise, we’re left a little bereft of satisfaction.
Jungle Woman does benefit from some early cameos though from Evelyn Ankers (who continues to impress on my journey through the Universal vault) and Milburn Stone who both return to reprise their roles and present the case for Dr. Fletcher’s defence.
The film would ultimately be the last for Acquanetta and Universal as the model felt that she was being used and thus refused to renew her contract, despite the production company having bold plans for her to return again.
- Saul Muerte