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Bride of the Gorilla

The eponymous "Bride of the Gorilla" (1951) is Dina Van Gelder, the wife of a South American plantation owner who has caught the eye of a supervisor named Barney Chavez. Barney is a slacker and a bit of a tomcat, callously ignoring the pesky deaths of underlings and sniffing after a female co-worker while making time with Dina. When Dina's husband Klaas terminates Barney's employment, Barney terminates Klaas—by knocking him into the path of a venomous snake. He and Dina marry posthaste, but their bliss is short-lived: the local bruja who witnessed the murder-by-reptile has cursed the full-time jerk to life as a part-time jungle beast.

In playing Dina, actress Barbara Peyton took a step down from the higher status roles she won earlier in her career. Having costarred with James Cagney, Gary Cooper and Gregory Peck, the bottle-blonde beauty might have stayed in A-list films but for some rather feckless choices with her personal life. But just as the Evening Star and Morning Star are the same celestial body, "Bride of the Monster" was a point in her costar's rise. As ne'er-do-well Barney, Canadian native Raymond Burr turns in a smoldering performance as a man whose creatural transformation may be entirely in his own, unhinging mind. The actor went on to play Perry Mason for nine years, win two Emmy Awards and thrill radio audiences with his deep, distinctive voice.

The Science

Dr. Jonathan Marshall

Jonathan MarshallDr. Jonathan Marshall, professor in the Department of Zoology at Weber State University, discusses snakes and the scientific credibility of the movie Bride of the Gorilla.

 

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