Jungle Woman (1944) [31 Days of American Horror Review]

Following on from his on “31 Days of Hammer” in January, his “31 Days of British Horror” in March and May, and his “31 Days of American Horror” in August and October, Jules is fixing to round out 2018 with 31 more days of classic American Horror movies.

So brace yourself, folks.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Director: Reginald Le Borg
Starring:  Evelyn Ankers, J. Carrol Naish, Samuel S. Hinds, Lois Collier, Milburn Stone, Douglass Dumbrille, Acquanetta

Some films are perfect and don’t need a sequel, some get one anyway and others… well, others barely justify their existence in the first place and get not one but two. Guess what category Jungle Woman falls into?

The previous year’s Captive Wild Woman wasn’t a particularly good film, but still managed to be an enjoyable piece of prize bunkum, but this first of it’s two sequels struggles to earn even that faint praise.

A silhouetted murder of an anonymous woman leads to coroner’s inquest into the death of, as it transpires, Paula Dupree (Acquanetta), allegedly at the hands of Dr. Carl Fletcher (Naish), who insists there was more to it than a simple killing…

Via flashbacks, we see that Fletcher was present in the circus the night Cheela the ape saved the life of lion-tamer Fred Mason (Stone). After it’s apparent death, the Doctor acquired the body and on finding a faint pulse, revived the creature. Cheela soon returns to its female form of Paula, finally becoming verbal on meeting Fletcher’s daughter Joan (Collier) and her fiancé Bob Whitney (Richard Davis).

An infatuation with the latter brings out Paula’s old jealous, animalistic streak and with one murder behind her already, sets out to eliminate what she sees as a rival for Bob’s affections…

There’s really not a whole lot to say about Captive Wild Woman. Like its predecessor, its slim run-time is packed with clips from another movie and still feels slight.

As the titular Wild Woman, Acquanetta is still a striking, earthy presence, but in giving her a new-found power of speech you lose some of the mystery and animal magnetism that made her so attractive in the first place.

Saying that, the film’s best moments are when she lets her inner predator rear it’s head. Her initial murder of a mentally challenged would-be suitor is cold as it gets, while her shark-like underwater stalking of Joan and Bob’s rowing boat is, to be fair, brilliantly realised. It’s tense, it’s dramatic and it’s shot perfectly, the complete opposite of the series’ usual ham-fisted attempts at being “inspired” by Tourneur’s Cat People.

That’s about all that Captive Wild Woman going for it though. You never actually see Paula in her killer ape form until the end and there’s too few engaging moments until you get there to hold the interest. The final death scene is the same as it’s shown in the intro, violent, but entirely in silhouette, when the right thing to do would be to let the audience see it clearly now we know the back story. But no. This is a film where Evelyn Ankers gets top billing and is only in a flashback from the first film. That sums it up.

Universal would make one more cheap and not particularly cheerful instalment in this series, 1945’s Acquanetta-free Jungle Captive. Don’t expect a review on that one. I’ve had enough of this.

Rating: 1/5.

JULESAVThe Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

Comment On This Article

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: