As Halloween approaches every year, I choose on a theme for my increased horror viewing in October: One year I’ll watch all the Universal Horrors; another year, it’s the Hammer films; on another year, it’s all the Lugosi films I can gather etc.
This year, I found myself not thinking ahead to Halloween and couldn’t figure a theme that didn’t feel repetitive. Then I realized I had a short stack of movies that I hadn’t seen in over a decade: my VHS tapes.
Most of these were either not released in DVD yet and a few I just hadn’t gotten around to upgrading for one reason or another. As I picked up my Kino video of The Monster Walks, I surmised it must have something to do with cost (Kino tends to be on the pricey side- but usually worth it). As it unspooled in my VCR, however, I was reminded why I never bothered.
The Monster Walks is as tawdry and predictable as it gets- and it’s even hard to make amends for the period it was made in (1932). Incredibly stagey with a camera that is so immobile, you could mistake it for Ryan Gosling in Drive, the film is best used as a yardstick to make you better understand why audiences were so gaga about Universal’s cycle of horror thrillers.
It’s a spooky melodrama involving relatives gathered for the reading of a will in a creepy old home that houses a bigass chimpanzee. Why? “Because the master of this house were proponents of the theories of Charles Darwin” we are told- as if this was cause to boo and hiss.
Yup. It’s a Halloween movie for the Tea Party.
Now, if the crap story and dubious scares obtained by conjuring up the Scopes Monkey trial aren’t enough, the film also descends into the lower depths of American scren comedy with jaw-droppingly awful stereotypical racial humor delivered by or at the expense of the black cast member.
Comedian Willie Best, a talented performer and writer, was unfortunately saddled with playing dim-witted, lazy, chatty “negro” servants. In addition, his first five films saddle him with the cringe-inducing stage name “Sleep N’ Eat” in the credits.
Mind you, I caught the Bob Hope film The Ghost Breakers the weekend before and, despite letting Best act under his real name, the characterization they saddled him with wasn’t much better. One scene has Hope nearly colliding with Best in the dark. “You look like a black out in a blackout” Hope quips “remind me to paint you white.”
This one will tax your patience folks.
Pain Level: 8/10
Quality of Pain: Probably won’t feel bad to ignorant people.
Painjoyment™ Index: Very low. There is not enough genuine laughs to ease the pain one gets watching this.