DVD Review: The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters (1954).

Directed by Edward Bernds
Produced by Ben Schwalb
Written by Edward Bernds and Elwood Ullman
Music by Marlin Skiles
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Film Editor: William Austin

Cast: Leo Gorcey (Terrance Aloysius ‘Slip’ Mahoney), Huntz Hall (Horace Debussy ‘Sach’ Jones), David Gorcey (Chuck Anderson), Bennie Bartlett (Butch Williams), Bernard Gorcey (Louie Dumbrowski), Lloyd Corrigan (Anton Gravesend), Ellen Corby (Amelia Gravesend), John Dehner (Dr. Derek Gravesend), Laura Mason (Francine Gravesend), Paul Wexler (Grissom), Steve Calvert (Gorilla)

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This post is dedicated to my friend Dan Conway. A while back, he and I got to talking about The Bowery Boys, which prompted me to task myself with a series of posts on the Boys and their movies. This is the first.

The basic plot point of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) — that Dracula needs a simple, pliable brain to put in the head of the Frankenstein monster, so naturally he’s after Costello — is pure genius. Wish I’d come up with it. Evidently, so did the folks behind The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters (1954), because they took that idea and ran with it. If one monster after a brain was funny, how about a bunch of monsters after a couple of brains?

The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters goes like this. Slip and Sach wind up at the creepy old mansion of the Gravesend family. Turns out each Gravesend is in need of a brain or body. A brain that’ll fit inside a gorilla’s head. Another brain for a robot. Some meat for a carnivorous tree. And, of course, somebody always needs some fresh blood. The boys are encouraged to stay at Chez Gravesend, and the chase begins — with the rest of the Boys coming to the rescue.

The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters comes from the back end of the Boys’ filmography, when everyone was getting a little tired. But if you find this stuff funny, you’ll find something to laugh at here. Everything you expect is in place: Slip’s butchering of the English language, Louie’s Sweet Shop, some kind of chase, and so on. The addition of monsters and the typical old-dark-house stuff — and yet another guy (Steve Calvert ) in a gorilla suit — add a certain something. You’ve got the usual folks behind the camera — Edward Bernds directed from a script he wrote with Elwood Ullman. Harry Neumann shot it, obviously in a hurry, but he was always dependable. Great character actors like Lloyd Corrigan, Ellen Corby and John Dehner do a lot for this movie, and it looks like they were having fun.

Let’s talk about the gorilla. Steve Calvert, a bartender at Ciro’s, bought Ray “Crash” Corrigan’s ape suits and turned monkeying around into a career. He was in several of the Jungle Jim pictures with Johnny Weissmuller, starting with the first one, along with Road To Bali (1952), Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) and the late-in-the-game Republic serial Panther Girl Of The Congo (1955). I love these gorilla suit guys. Luckily, someone interviewed Calvert before he passed away.

Of course, every frame of this movie is stupid. Which is a good thing. The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters is included in Warner Archive’s The Bowery Boys, Volume Two. This terrific four-volume series packs 12 movies on four discs in each set. They look terrific — Meet The Monsters is even presented widescreen! — and if you’re a fan of this stuff, they’re absolutely essential.

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3 Comments

Filed under 1954, Bela Lugosi, Bowery Boys, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Edward Bernds, Gorilla suit guys, Johnny Weissmuller, Jungle Jim, Monogram/Allied Artists, Warner Archive

3 responses to “DVD Review: The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters (1954).

  1. Walter

    Toby, as I’ve said before, I’m a fan of the Bowery Boys. I’ve been a fan ever since I first saw them on TV in 1963. I discovered them in reverse order. First as the Bowery Boys, next as the East Side Kids, then the Little Tough Guys, and finally the Dead End Kids. I recently watched the East Side Kids in the PRIDE OF THE BOWERY(1940), which I think is a good movie and Leo Gorcey was very good in it. Joseph H. Lewis of GUN CRAZY(1950) fame, directed.

    I think that starting with the Dead End Kids on Broadway in 1935 and ending with the Bowery Boys movie IN THE MONEY(1958), they became through a succession of names and cast changes one of the most prolific series in Hollywood History. Only the Three Stooges can rival them.

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    • I went through the series like you did, backwards. “Wait, they made REAL movies?”

      While the Bowery Boys things are incredibly cheap and really, really stupid, there’s just something about them that I like.

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  2. Walter

    Toby, after all these years the Bowery Boys still have a dedicated fan base of fans who, like us, grew up watching them on TV as youngsters. Why do I like them? First of all, I think they are funny and real life needs more humor and the Bowery Boys provided plenty of chuckles and laughs. Yes, they were moviedom’s oldest juvenile delinquents and they were always on the look-out for any get rich quick schemes, but I don’t care about that, because they always meant well and would in the end, do what was the right thing to do. Also, they are as entertaining as all get out.

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