if that doesn't sound like the title of an Edward D. Wood, Jr, movie,
I don't know what does. I bet old Ed kicked himself when he saw that
the title was not readily available.
Anyway, we start out with loud, insistantly blaring jungle music, and our credits. Our stars, in order, are Barbara Payton, Lon Chaney (Jr, I imagine), Raymond Burr and Tom Conway. Very nice jungle set scenery, by the way. The music is by Raoul Kraushaar, who will probably be best known as the composer for Invaders From Mars. Finally, written and directed by Curt Siodmak! Well, that's a well-known name, and usually associated with quality stuff. Let's hope that holds true here.
Well, the credits duly disposed of, we open on some frollicking monkeys gamboling through the trees, while various predators (panther, leopard, large lizard, large snake) prowl about on the ground.
And that done with, we get the unmistakable voice of Lon Chaney, Jr narrating. “This is jungle. Lush, green, alive with incredible growth. As young as day, as old as time. I, Taro, police commissioner of Itland County, which borders the Amazonus [sic] river, know it as well as any man will ever know it. Isn't it beautiful? But I have also learned that beauty can be venomous, deadly, something terrifying.” We pan across the jungle to a house in the middle of this lush greenery. The doors appear to have either fallen off, or not yet been put on. Viewer's choice.
Lon goes on: “Something of prehistoric ages, when monstrous superstition ruled the minds of men. Something that has haunted the world for millions of years, grows out of that verdant labyrinth.” We cut inside the house, and it looks rather more trashed from this angle. “Let me tell you, how the jungle itself took the law, into its own hands. This was Van Gelder Manor. Built to stand against the searing sun, built to shelter generations of Van Gelders. It also has become prey to the powers of the jungle. A terrifying strength that arose to punish a man for his card.”
Honestly, that's what the last word sounds like. I've played it several times and it still sounds like “card.” The man (I'm guessing a Van Gelder) must have sent a really bad holiday card to the jungle. That's all I can come up with.
Anyway, we fade from the scene of this housing destruction to some lady's dancing feet. She's blond and is dancing away to this jazzy music. In the background, Raymond Burr enters. He looks unhappy, but then, Raymond Burr kind of almost always looked unhappy, didn't he?
Blonde greets him, “Hello, darling.” [I think she actually says “Barney,” which is later revealed to be Raymond Burr's character name.]
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Van Gelder,” he replies. I smell trouble already! He talks about how Blonde's husband hired him (Raymond) to run the plantation, not to be killed by the heat (don't worry, this is just witty jungle repartee). He also mentions that the price of rubber keeps going up, so he can't hire anyone for long, because they all run off and (presumably) start their own rubber plantations. Raymond jokingly mentions that it was different when there were slaves.
“Aren't we all slaves?” asks Blonde.
“Sure,” Raymond says.
“Not me,” she says sultry-like, “I'm free.”
“You call this freedom, with bars on the windows?” he counters.
A native girl comes up and offers them drinks. Raymond takes one, Blonde doesn't.
When the girl leaves, Raymond says, “This is no place for a beautiful woman,” and I heard the cliché meter ping on that one. He goes on to say she should travel, have fun, do cool stuff, etc.
She says, “My life is here with my husband. Who's already offered to share his name and his home with me.”
“You're confusing gratitude with love, Mrs. Van Gelder. There are other things, much more important. A woman wants to be loved.” He takes a big swig of his drink, and, naturally, we cut to some old sour-looking native woman gazing with disapproval upon the world entire.
Then, we cut to two guys in white suits coming in through the big doors. “Hello Klaus, hello Doctor,” says a female voice from off screen, and I'll be surprised if it was the old native woman who said this. And no, we pan and follow, and it's Blonde who was talking. She appears to be re-dressing herself, right in front of Raymond Burr! The elder of the two white-suits (Klaus) comes over and says he was worried about her, “darling.”
Raymond Burr confirms to us, the viewers, that this is in fact Blonde's husband. Well, “Klaus” it is, then.
But Klaus tells Raymond that when he (Raymond) left the plantation, there was an accident, and someone got hurt. Raymond says the risk is part of the job. Klaus says the man died, and Raymond says he can't be in two places at one time...but, er, pardon me for pointing it out, but you're only supposed to be in one: where the accident happened. At the plantation. Klaus has you there, Raymond.
But Blonde intervenes, saying there shouldn't be fights before dinner. Raymond stalks out of the house, and Klaus goes on to this promised dinner he's been awaiting. The Doctor comes up to Blonde (now alone) and says that some people shouldn't be in the jungle, but it's not a reprise of Raymond's smooth moves, he's talking about Klaus and his weak heart. I think this guy is Tom Conway (who was in some Val Lewton pictures) and he's very British and very smooth.
The Doc says that Blonde doesn't understand Klaus, and Blonde does that I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue thing and says that Klaus doesn't understand HER. So there.
She says Klaus would rather she not be around so he could read his books in peace. She smiles at The Doc. “If you were married, you'd act differently, wouldn't you, [his name—sounds like “Veerd”]?”
“I was married, once,” the Doc says, as Raymond starts pacing impatiently out on the porch. He comes in, and Blonde asks him about marriage.
He says it's just a civil arrangement, a gesture “of sympathy, or of conquest.”
“You must have read that some place,” Blonde tells him.
“Sure,” he says. “Everyone knows I can't think of anything clever.”
Klaus shows up. “I too am not clever, Barney [as noted, Raymond's character name]. But I know where to find wisdom.” He then holds his arm out to Blonde, she takes it, and they go off to this long-delayed dinner everyone's raved about so. Raymond, bemused, watches them depart.
The old native lady, the drinks gal, and some other native guy are setting the table. Our foursome come in and are seated. The old lady brings Klaus a huge book, and he opens it to read. Churlish of me to note it, but there is clearly a little piece of paper here that helped him to open it to the right page.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,” Klaus reads, “and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I , the Lord, search the heart. I try the reigns, even to give every man according to his ways. And according to the fruit of his doings.”
And, that bit of expostion and foreshadowing (two for the price of one!) out of the way, he closes the book and they all get ready to chow down.
Doc shows his grasp of dinnertime conversation by saying there was a case of smallpox, it would be wise to innoculate everyone.
Klaus takes this in, then turns to Raymond. “You know about the complaint of that worker, and his daughter.”
“That's my own business, Mr. Van Gelder,” Raymond says.
“You're living in my house,” Klaus says. “I demand that you conduct yourself accordingly. You've not done so. You can pick up your pay and leave!”
“That's all right with me!” says Raymond.
Blonde interjects, wanting to know what this is that is going down like this. Klaus says he doesn't want Raymond around any longer.
“Fine,” says Raymond, “I don't need this fourth-billed crap. I'll leave. And you know what will happen then? I'll tell you. I'll be spliced into Godzilla. And I'll be in Hitchcock's Rear Window! Hitchcock! Then I'll be Perry Mason, and I'll live through eternity, and no one will remember Ironsides!”
Okay, you got me, he doesn't say that. He says, “Do you mind if I have my dinner first!” And he takes a sip of water.
Well, that really takes the cake out of Klaus' sails. He tosses down his napkin, says, “Excuse me,” and leaves. Blonde wants to go follow, but Doc tells her to stay (with Raymond right there, oh, that can't be a good plot development) and he goes off to tend Klaus.
At the dinner table, Blonde asks Raymond what's what, and Raymond goes off onto this low-key tirade about how he's old enough not to let himself be pushed around, he doesn't like Klaus' “spies” and he bets that the Old Lady spies on him and reports her spying results to Klaus. He just wants to be treated right, and notes that just because Klaus has money, doesn't mean he (Klaus) owns him (Raymond).
Blonde gives him the Hot Look, and says, “Don't go away. Don't leave.” And some tender music starts up. And they start gazing at each other with, well, with a kind of yearning. A yearning, tender passion, I suppose.
“That's all I need to know,” Raymond says, and he leaves the table too.
Blonde kind of sighs like, I am not getting any MAN-oeuvers tonight, and she glances at the Old Lady, who glowers out this Supreme Disapproval of It All. (A Regular Disapproval is just a disapproval, but a Supreme Disapproval comes with fries, medium drink and a swell toy.)
But we cut from that to see Raymond closing a door behind him. He's outside now, and behind him, in the shrubbery, is a woman. But for the fact that CGI hadn't been invented yet, she is about as convincing as the shrubbery, but perhaps it is the lighting.
She detaches herself from the plants and runs to him, and asks him not to go away. (I think it is the same gal who served drinks earlier.)
“Talk to Van Gelder, ask him to change his mind,” Raymond says.
“You take me with you, remember you promised,” says Native Gal.
“I don't even know where I'm going,” says Raymond.
“I don't care, I just want to be with you,” she responds. “You said you'd never leave me—why did you say it?
“Cause you wanted to hear it,” Raymond says and strides off, easily carrying off the trophies for both Cad of the Film, and Potential Villain of the Film.
There's a bit more conversation, but Native Gal is awarded Spurned Lover of the Film. Sorry, Native Gal! But she glowers after him, like, Ooo, you're gonna get it, you, you MAN you!
And we cut to Doc and Klaus. Doc has just given Klaus a shot, and tells him he shouldn't excite himself. (Watch some of the movies I've watched, Klaus, lack of excitement guarenteed.) Klaus says, basically, this whole Raymond Thing has got him riled up and such.
“You do love her, don't you,” observes Doc.
“Without her, I have nothing,” Klaus confirms.
“Well, you've got rid of Barney Chavez [Raymond's full character name], that was right, but still I'd take her away from here. It's the climate! A woman, buried in a place like this? You must understand if she...gets a little mixed up.”
Klaus stands and stares at the Doc. “You too, like her, don't you?”
Doc says mildly, “Of course,” and turns away to put away his medical stuff.
Well, I'm glad that's out because I'd like to admit to finding her hot, too. She is pretty attractive, all around, and--
Hang on, the phone. Be right back.
Huh, well, you wouldn't believe this, but that was Klaus on the phone! He told me to keep away from his wife. I told him sure, sure, no problem. And I will keep my word!
I'm keeping the souvenier panties, though.
In the film, Doc says “She looks good to any man. That's a compliment to you.” He then laughs a bit. “Look at who's giving advice. My private life isn't perfect either. But then...I live alone. So nobody cares.”
Hang on, Doc, I'll break out my violins for ya.
“That makes the whole difference,” Doc says.
“Barney Chavez,” Klaus whispers, “is like a beast. An animal, with animal instincts. I never thought [something—I think his wife's name? Or the country's name, and thus his situation?] would come to this.”
“You'd better go to bed,” Doc advises. “I should too.”
Klaus looks up at this, but Doc goes on, “I don't like to see you taking so little care of yourself. But you'll be all right.”
Klaus thanks the Doc, and they say their goodnights. And there's some manly shoulder patting and so forth, suggesting that, had this film been made in the 90's, everyone's problems would have been solved pretty easily.
However, we're in the era this is in, and our next scene shows Native Gal sobbing and tossing herself onto a mattress in front of Old Lady. Old Lady asks what happened (actually, she says “Marina” over and over while pawing Native Gal's hair—it looks like she's trying to find someone else in there). Native Gal says that Barney lied to her and doesn't love her anymore. Old Lady basically says I told you so.
“But he will never hurt you again,” she says, growing an evil grin as the music swells a bit, “Never.”
We cut to Klaus wandering about the house and then going outside. Raymond is in the shadows. Klaus asks what he's doing here, and Raymond says he wants to talk. Klaus says he doesn't want to listen to Raymond's talk.
“You chose your time to talk, Van Gelder, in the presence of your wife, your doctor and your servants,” Raymond says. “What I have to say, I wanted to say to you alone.”
Klaus tells him to go ahead, and Raymond points out that he has done a lot of good work for the Van Gelders.
“Anything else?” asks Klaus.
“You read from the Bible tonight, Van Gelder, but you didn't finish what you were reading.”
“I thought I'd made myself clear,” Klaus says.
“It goes on,” Raymond says, “let them be confounded that persecute me; bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.”
And if that doesn't work, try double secret destruction!
Klaus remarks that he's glad Raymond remembers something from his Bible studies.
“A man sometimes gets in a spot when he has to make a big decision, Van Gelder,” Raymond says.
“My decision has been made,” says Klaus.
“Mine, too,” counters Raymond. “You're standing in my way. Mine and Deena's.”
Well, that riles up old Klaus. He asks if Raymond put her up to this. Raymond says they love each other, whaddaya gonna do about it?
Well, Klaus gives Raymond a big ole slap. Raymond doesn't like this, but he happens to glance down at the jungle floor, and there's a big snake heading for the little tete a tete. So Raymond slugs Klaus a good one, and Klaus goes down, and the snake thinks Oh cool and that's about it for Klaus. He pleas for help but Raymond offers none.
Now, the reason that I quoted all of Raymond's talk above was because I thought it would be relevant to the plot later on. I had no idea he was just going to toss Klaus at a snake. Raymond, you creep!
Of course, Old Lady just happened to be lurking in the shadowy forest, and she saw it all. And once having bitten Klaus, the snake slithers off. I guess he just likes biting things. Eating them afterward is totally extreme.
The Old Lady slinks off unseen, and so Raymond goes off to see Blonde. He wakes her up by pounding on the door, and she puts on a robe. She says he can't be seen here, he says he's leaving in the morning and is she coming? She says, Let's tell Klaus, and she notes that she isn't afraid of him.
The conversation goes on for a while with nothing much of note. Raymond doesn't tell her about the snake, by the way, making it seem like Klaus is still around to be feared. Raymond promises Blonde that she'll “be happy” if she runs off with him.
Out in the jungle, the Old Lady is kneeling down by Klaus. She has brought him a nice plant to cheer him up. She then straightens his neck and whips out her old native potions and notions and starts chanting around the body. Is she going to bring him back to life?
She places two leaves on Klaus' eyes and says (and a lot of this is guesswork, her accent is thicker than shoe leather), “First, show me the murderer these eyes have seen.” She looks up. “Cursed shall be...Barney Chavez. He shall be like an animal that's hunt in the jungle.” What she says is “hunt” but no idea if that means “hunted” or “hunts.”
“The jungle shall hunt him to his death!” she finishes with a flourish. In these shots, the Old Lady looks like Jimmy Durante, which would explain a great many things.
Should I point out something here? Raymond may be guilty of being a cad and a bounder, but is he guilty of murder? Klaus died from a snakebite. True, Raymond arranged that he would fall in the snake's path, and didn't help, but is that a crime? Second-degree murder, maybe, or reckless endangerment? Sure, Raymond wanted Klaus dead....
Maybe it's against the law—the law of the jungle!
And we fade to a jungle court building or something. Lon Chaney Jr is presiding. Everyone who's anyone is there, including Native Gal, Old Lady, Blonde, Doc, Barney and assorted others. Lon asks again if Raymond last saw Van Gelder in “this room,” so oops, I guess it is the Van Gelder mansion.
Raymond says yes. Lon points out that Raymond's boot prints were found in the garden. Raymond says let's cut to the chase, “Why don't you ask me if I killed Klaus Van Gelder? You know I had a quarrel with him—you've got witnesses for that, haven't you?”
Lon says yup. He turns to Doc and asks him what he thinks.
Doc says that his official report is that Klaus died from snake venom.
“And your private opinion?” asks Lon.
“My private opinion...” Doc begins, then looks downcast. “...is of no value.”
Lon sits down and starts speculating, and asks Raymond about a bruise on his chin. Raymond says he got it in a fight with “one of my men.”
“What about?” asks Lon, and Raymond strides over and gets right in Lon's face.
“Why don't you arrest me?” he asks.
“I would, but for one thing,” Lon says, and my guess of “evidence” is wrong, as Lon picks up the leaves that were on Klaus' face. “These leaves. They come from a plant called the Ped-e-guon. The plant of evil. Do you know about such a plant?”
“No,” Raymond admits, and sits in front of Lon on the table.
“These leaves worry me,” Lon admits. “They're used to put an evil spell on people.”
Raymond says not to “accuse me of using magic.”
“I don't,” says Lon. Whew! But then he calls Old Lady over. Lon wants her to answer truthfully (duh) about what she knows about the death.
Old Lady looks at several key players, then responds “He was bit, by the snake.”
“He was?” Lon asked. “How do you know?”
Lon, you dope, what more evidence do you need of snake malfeasance?
Old Lady relinquishes the opportunity to similarly admonish Lon. “I saw it,” she says.
Lon seems really pleased to hear this. “Did you also see Mr. Chavez?”
“No,” Old Lady says, and now it's Raymond's turn to look pleased. “He was in Mrs. Van Gelder's room all the time.”
Lon pops up. “Is this true, Mrs. Van Gelder?”
Blonde pops up. “Yes. He came to say goodbye.”
Doc also pops up. Lon seems to think this closes the case, but then he asks Old Lady if she knows where the leaves came from. He points out that it is illegal to own the plant—it's a deadly poisonous thing—which doesn't seem to help her admit to anything. Doc points out that once Old Lady decides not to talk, you can't make her. Lon admits defeat in this matter...not! He tells one of his officers to search the Old Lady's room.
Lon then stands, turns toward his secretary and says to no one in particular, “As you say, there's no use asking her questions. I sometimes feel as though I don't even speak my own people's language. Since I became an official I...I seem to be standing outside their code of law.” He then looks back at where the people are. “The inquest is closed,” he pronounces.
We cut to the officer sent to search the Old Lady's room. He looks behind a curtain. Not there! He is about to look inside a box, when the Old Lady says “It's here, in the box.” Sounds like a trap to me, but he goes over to have a good look anyway.
Yes, there it us. The officer takes it out.
Looking more and more like a Jimmy Durante ventriloquist's doll (who was it who got cursed, again?) Old Lady asks officer if he would “like to have such a plant?”
“It's against the law,” he points out, looking pretty intrigued anyway.
She tells him about all the swell things it can do, and he says he has to destroy it.
She says that the plant is also evil, and “if you hurt it, you are cursed.” She mentions several things it will do, if hurt, and the guard gets this look. Damned if you do....
He puts the plant back. Old Lady, by way of thanks, says she'll bring him his own plant.
“I don't believe in black magic,” he says (no, not much you don't).
Old Lady then drinks a glass of water while reciting the alphabet. No, just kidding. She says, “Don't tell anyone I have such a plant.” Officer says he won't, but he wants her staying away from his house. “I don't want witches near my children.” As he leaves, Old Lady smirks evily.
Back to the Van Gelder Mansion, oldest son Rudy is showing some microphones he just got from America, and some new “sides” by some guy named Thelonius. “I'm going to record this guy and his band!” he quavers nervously. Ha ha, I am also kidding here, I just happened to remember where I'd heard the name Van Gelder before.
So, really back to the Van Gelder Mansion, Blonde is on the veranda looking stalwart. The door opens and Raymond strides out.
“Hello,” he says, “Thanks.”
“I'm glad our lung's not happened,” she says. Me too. (I've tried three times to decipher this line.) “I didn't want you to get involved.”
“That was lucky, wasn't it,” Raymond observes.
“Don't go away,” Blonde says in a whisper.
“I won't. You know that.”
And we cut to Old Lady, praying to her plant. She's squeezing some stuff into a wine glass (lady, I'm with ya!) and saying that Barney Chavez shall be “a animal” and in his eyes, he shall be “a animal.” Maybe he'll eat “a apple” or “an banana”!
And we fade on that, and fade into some other day, and apparently it is Raymond and Blonde's wedding day. Some big fat guy says, “Is this your first marriage, Mr. Chavez?” and Raymond says, “My father used to say, 'Try everything once.'” Both Old Lady and Native Gal are floating around, the latter serving drinks, the former just sort of glaring a lot.
Raymond stops Blonde and they kiss, while fat guy blathers on about his own marriage. Blonde (and the camera) move on to some bridesmaids or pals or some such. I'm sure the film will tell us!
Just pals, it turns out. There's some talk, and it turns out that Blonde was once a nightclub dancer, whatever that is. She says she danced all over the world. Oh, now you change it!
Old Lady, fanning herself, glares. A servant approaches her, and she gives him a Special Brew “for the Master” (Raymond) and the servant brings this drink to Raymond.
Raymond takes it, and toasts fat guy's, um, health or something, and downs a big swig. The music swirls a bit to let us know this isn't too good. But Raymond takes another big ole gulp. He looks a bit Off at this, and we cut to Old Lady, looking smug.
And fade to somewhere else in the mansion, where Blonde is chatting with Doc, and some gal tells Raymond that every time she meets a guy, he's either married or about to be. Raymond is telling this gal “better luck next time,” and then he breaks in on the Blonde-Doc chit-chat. He whirls her away into a corner, and makes her promise that from now on, it'll just be the two of them. They kiss.
Then, Lon shows up with the official papers. Raymond asks Blonde to sign first, and she does, then Raymond does. Exciting, huh?
As his hand lays on the paper, Raymond looks at it, and it seems to change from his normal hand to a darker hand, and finally to a rather gorilla-like hand. Actually, I'm guessing a gorilla is what it is supposed to look like, based on the title of the film. Whatever it is, Raymond seems upset by this, and dashes off.
Well, this upsets pretty much everyone except Old Lady. Raymond hides in a closet, but I guess he didn't hide too well because there's Doc right there, wanting to know what's wrong. Raymond lets him into the closet (keeping his right hand in his jacket, Napoleon style).
He tells Doc his hand is a problem, and he pulls it out, and it is a normal hand which is just what Doc says. Raymond seems puzzled by the fact that it is, in fact, a normal hand.
Woah, how about that, Raymond seems to think, but he decides not to come out of the closet (er...) and tells the Doc to tell everyone to say he got sick and vomited up a whole forest of bacteria and ordure. Well, no, he didn't add that bit, I did. But Raymond doesn't even want to see Blonde. “Now, leave me alone, will ya?” Raymond says to Doc, and Doc says whatever and leaves him to brood in his sulkyness.
As soon as Doc leaves, Raymond collapses on a little chair and looks at his hand like, I don't trust this. That ape hand was...too real! We get a tracking shot into the hand, as the other hand caresses it, and more of Raymond looking Way Concerned.
And fade to, the Honeymoon Suite. Blonde is all dolled up, while Raymond paces restlessly. “Don't you like me?” asks Blonde, a bit put out by all the pacing of the palace. (Raymond's just waiting for Stooge to phone. An obscure joke.)
Raymond says sure, and he pours her a glass of something. Blonde deduces something is wrong, and she thinks it's all about her. Raymond says no, no, it's not her. She says he's changed a lot, and he roughly says he hasn't. Um, is this the Honeymoon night, or some weeks later, or what?
Raymond points out the jungle noises outside in the, er, jungle. He goes and throws open the door. She doesn't like this, but he says it sounds like music. He describes the animals of the jungle in great detail. He then says he has to leave, and she's a bit alarmed by this, pointing out that it's the middle of the night. He's more and more frantic about the noises outside. (Raymond Burr, the actor, does quite well here.) He finally dashes off into the undergrowth as she calls out to him.
We fade to him walking in the jungle. We get some wildlife shots too, of course. He seems to know where he's going, seems to be drawn somewhere. He looks up into a tree and sees a huge snake. Up til then, the music is kind of land-of-wonder moody, it turns sinister with the snake. Oh sure, blame the snake.
He continues on through the trees, then starts taking his shirt off. He pauses to look at his hands...they metamophosize into gorilla-type hands (with only one thumb, though). We zoom really close in on Raymond's panicked eyes, then the image quavers briefly and we're back in the jungle. Behind some bushes, a guy in a gorilla suit (well, okay, it's just a dark man-shaped mass, but you know what it is) walks like he's all pissed off about something. Some other monkeys in the trees all scream at him, which I bet doesn't help his mood at all. There's a quick shot of a mommy monkey pulling her baby monkey to the safety of higher, er, trees, and even the leopards seem to be fearful of this creature. A tracking shot takes us further through the jungle while the music becomes a bit more menacing. More jungle creatures flee by using stock footage.
The tracking shot approaches a small pond or creek or some such, and I bet we're approaching the revelation shot! Ooo!
Sure enough, but it's over pretty quickly. Kind of looks like an orangutang. The creature breaks up the reflection and moves on. We hold on the surface of the pond for rather a long time, methinks, and then we fade to Raymond all passed out on the ground. Blonde runs up to him. Some servants also pop round, and she directs them to take him into the house.
The next morning, Ramond is lying in bed moaning deleriously about “not my hands, not my arms, it's not my face” but before he can become rather graphic the Doc shows up. They chat about him a bit, and Raymond moans about his hands, and Doc mentions that he was on about his hands before. He puts all the moaning down to fever, though.
“The face in the water, the face in the water,” Raymond moans as Doc injects him with something.
“That's all we can do for him now,” the Doc notes, saying Raymond will sleep and she should give him quinine when he wakes up. “Happy?” he then asks her.
“Very,” she says, looking him right in the eye. “Barney loves me.”
They chat about Klaus for a bit, Doc noting Klaus was his pal, Blonde noting she was sorry he died “such a horrible death.”
“At such a convenient time,” Doc notes.
“Yes, at such a convenient time,” she answers. Good for you, Blonde. Doc is coming off as kind of a creep. “Klaus died of shock and suffocation. Or would you like to change your diagnosis?”
“I know the cause of Klaus' death, but...not the motive.”
“An accident,” she says.
Eventually it comes out that Blonde knows all about how Doc feels about her and that's just too bad for Doc; before she was married to Klaus and now she's married to Barney and that's just the way the bone saw rusts, to coin a phrase. “A woman always knows a man's feelings about her,” she says, and I say, “Only in Hollywood, sister.” Let me tell you, I [SMACK] OW.
Okay, okay, I won't, then.
Doc says Raymond will be all right, and he takes his leave...right to the police station, where he and Lon greet each other. Doc asks if Lon has heard of “this big cat that's supposed to be around?”
Lon laughs. “Of course. Some say, it's a puma—others, a giant ape. And still others say it's the sukara [spelled phonetically].”
Doc says he's never heard of that kind of animal. Also, he's never heard of a Piecost, what's a Piecost? About $2.95 Doc, ha ha ha ha! [SMACK] OW.
“That's a famous—jungle demon,” Lon chunks out. “That tears living animals to shreds with its claws, and then feeds upon them.”
Doc isn't letting this gruesomeness get in the way of his cigarette. He lights up without a blink.
“It has been known to attack humans, also,” says Lon.
Doc looks interested in this. “It hasn't so far, I hope!”
“No,” Lon says. “But I'm sure it will.”
“You're sure?” Doc asks, then goes back to his cigarette. A man's gotta have his priorities, guys.
“Someone will use this rumor to kill somebody,” Lon theorizes, “[and] blame it on the sukarai.” He chuckles ruefully. “It's happened before.”
“It has?” Doc asks, finally having lit his cigarette he can turn his attention to other living creatures like Lon.
Lon mentions the Klaus death thing, talks about Doc's medical opinion, says that he (Lon) doesn't share that opinion, and notes that no one cares about his (Lon's) opinion. Doc (I think ironically) says naturally who would care about the police commissioner's opinion. I mean, I hope it's all ironical.
Lon mentions he was born here, Doc (not wanting to be thought less than on top of everything) says he knows, and Lon says that he sometimes regrets getting an education. His new-fangled knowledge conflicts with his superstitions and confuses him. Doc mutters something intended to show how superior he (Doc) is to all this, and how condescending he can be to Lon. Lon goes on.
“How can I help being confused? My native mind is filled with these superstitions. My legal mind was developed through books, written by people without emotion.”
Doc says that “justice must detach itself from emotion.” He fails to point out how he has not detached himself from wanting Blonde.
“Oh, that I realize,” says Lon. “But I know that Barney Chavez murdered Van Gelder. I know it...emotionally,” he confesses. “I should arrest that man and charge him with murder.”
“Well, why don't you?” asks Doc, and Lon admits he doesn't have much of a case.
But he says that Raymond can't escape punishment. “The sukarai,” he says.
Doc laughs at his simple superstitions. He further condescends all over Lon, who stares stone-faced at something off-camera.
“Barney Chavez will be brought to justice,” Lon says. He seems to notice Doc standing next to him, and comes out of his bit-o-trance. “The jungle will see to that,” he avers.
Doc humphs. “The longer I live here, the less I understand you people.” That just proves you're a dope, Doc.
Sensing Doc's dopiness, Lon says “Drop in again, Doctor,” and he answers the telephone. “No, I don't know what's a Piecost,” he says irritably. Ha ha, no, he doesn't say that. No, the call is from a “Mr. Van Heusen” and Lon quickly waves Doc back.
“On your plantation?” Lon asks the phone. “It's killed already?” he further inquires, as if the plot wasn't ready for this development. (It ought to be noted that we aren't either, as we just saw the Raymond Beast amble through the jungle a bit, look in a pool, put its hand in the water, and then [later] pass out in a garden.)
Well, Lon acknowledges that this is serious stuff to the phone, and calls out for his gun after he hangs up. He tells Doc that three people saw the sukara, and it killed something, and next time it might be “a human” that this creature kills. To his credit, Doc doesn't pause for a cigarette or even ask if there'll be cigarettes available when he agrees to come along. After all, Lon says it will enlarge Doc's “knowledge” and Doc wouldn't pass that up! Not after the viagra failed anyway.
We fade to some sad peasant types standing around looking down at something. They look kind of South American, these peasants, but then maybe that's where this is taking place. Maybe, possibly, yes, no?
Lon's complaining that the South American types have “trampled all over the scene like a herd of elephants” and thus there aren't any good footprints. Doc notes that the pelt of the victim (non-human, remember) is all torn and there are teethmarks.
Lon calls over one of the peasants. Said peasant says the killing creature was huge and “red” and folks seem to think this is pretty remarkable, a red beast and all.
Speaking Peasant says the creature has “a head like a man, and teeth like a nigh-denter.”
Once more, I've played this bit several times and it still sounds like “nigh-denter.” Which admittedly sounds pretty serious, but it lacks a certain accuracy.
Lon leads the witness by saying, “like the sukara?” and the peasant agrees with this, and he adds that his wife saw it at night “for a couple of nights; it was sneaking around our hut,” so I'm thoroughly confused as to how long after Raymond's wedding this is taking place. And other stuff.
“It walks on his hind legs,” says Speaking Peasant, and Lon grabs his shoulder.
“Like a man?” he demands.
“No,” says Speaking Peasant. “Like a beast that walks like a man.”
Oh, that clears everything up. How could anyone be confounded by that? No, no, don't answer that, it was a rhetorical question.
Speaking Peasant also mentions that the sukara had “a terrible voice” which sounds unfair. I mean, it's easy to sing Christmas carols and “Happy Birthday” because all they require is enthusiasm, but who here can really say they are prepared to go further? Hm? Yes? No, rapping doesn't count.
Lon says, well, we should set traps. Speaking Peasant says they've already done that, using “young goats” for bait.
Doc makes a cynical comment about selling the sukara to a circus and making a fortune, and he exits stage right. Everyone else looks up as the Foley man makes thunder noises.
And we fade to a brief tropical storm. And then Raymond, looking like Frankenstein's monster, throws open some doors and lurches through the house. We get a close up of his eyes, and the film goes a bit blurry, and then it goes non-blurry and it's still Raymond. Before we can feel cheated though, we see Raymond standing in front of a big mirror and the reflection is the orangutang creature! Woah, huh? Before they can do one of those I-Love-Lucy/Marx Brothers mirror-routines, though, Raymond just hauls off and smacks the mirror.
We apparently don't have the budget for mirror-smashing, so instead we cut to some kind of pattern which turns out to be the floor, and some glass shards fall on it. Wow! And the POV camera moves toward a door handle. And we fade to some other interior, and another door with a similar handle. And this door opens and we see Blonde all stretched out on a bed. She's dressed as if she's ready to go jungling, and two beast hands reach out for her! She protects herself, though, by stiring in her sleep. This unnerves the hands enough so that they withdraw quickly. And in fact, the whole POV withdraws quickly, just as Blonde wakes up and the POV becomes a regular shot. Blonde looks right at it, pulls out her gun, and calls for some servants.
She ventures out onto the patio, while the storm rages. A door slams, and she empties a bunch of shots into the jungle.
Doc calls out that it is him, and he asks her not to shoot any more. She, breathing a sigh of relief, silently agrees to this. Even though he's a creep.
Doc and Lon both show up and stride onto the porch. Blonde says she's glad they came, because she was scared.
Doc asks why, and she says because “somebody was here.”
Doc does the dim thing, and asks “...who?”
Blonde insists she doesn't know. Lon asks what she was shooting at, and she repeats that she doesn't know. They ask where Raymond is, and she knows that: he's out in the jungle. They seem to think it surprising that a guy could be out in the jungle! Why, there's no jungle in these territories for several yards, at least!
Doc wonders what he's doing out there, and Lon gets this a-HA look on his face, and he slowly says “...hunting.” When told that Raymond brought no weapons, Lon answers. “He doeesn't need one.”
Doc mentions to Blonde that they came to warn them that the rubber-tappers have set traps in the jungle for a wild animal that's been roaming around, all wild and presumably growly and out-of-sorts. Lon tells Blonde that she should warn Raymond to be careful of traps when he's traipsing about in the foliage.
Doc laughs and says that next Lon will be saying that Raymond is the sukarai! Ha ha, what an imagination you native chaps have, what?
Lon gets all serious without giving away the plot (harumph), and Doc gets serious too and says that Blonde should take Raymond out of the jungle and to, well, somewhere else. (Hey, how about a zoo!)
Lon says, “And what if he doesn't want to go?” He keeps the gun pointed rather toward Doc while he speaks.
Blonde wishes she knew what Raymond was doing out in the jungle and all, and Lon suggests she accompany him next time, but to be sure and go well-armed.
And cut to some birds in a tree, and then Blonde walking through the greenery. She has a big rifle, and she's calling out to Raymond. Some wildlife notices, including Raymond-Ape. He starts shufflling off, and she shoots her gun in the air. Several types of bird object to this.
But apparently it was what Raymond needed to transform back to human form, as he calls out to her. She goes and finds him, and his leg is caught in a trap. She notes this, disapprovingly, but has no time to say anything as he roughly grabs her gun away and uses it to pry open the trap. She helps him back to the mansion. (Before he goes, he unties the goat that was bait at the trap. Shrug.)
Back at the mansion, Old Lady tends to his leg. Raymond asks her if she really wanted to help him out at the inquest, the unasked “or” being something about getting him into further trouble, one supposes. He asks about Native Gal. She doesn't answer but just up and leaves.
He's just this side of taking umbrage when Blonde shows up. Raymond gets to his feet, saying (re: his ability to stand) that Old Lady “knows her stuff.” He then compares Doc unfavorable to Old Lady. Blonde wants to bring in Doc, but Raymond says he doesn't want her talking to Doc or, for that matter, to anyone. He doesn't want anyone to know he stepped into that trap.
When Blonde points out that anyone could have accidentally stepped into the trap, Raymond says no, only him. He then goes on to say that he “heard something, something I never heard before, something strange and beautiful. A voice...calling me. I couldn't resist going out there, I couldn't resist going closer and closer. The next thing I knew, I was in a trap.”
They both agree this is fairly creepy, and they both make plans to leave the jungle the next day. Paris and London are to be the first stop, where they'll buy clothes, and after this elaborate plan is made, they confess their love for each other. It's almost touching except we know Raymond is doomed so we shouldn't get too attached. Oops, did I spoil it?
They embrace, then sit on the jungle floor. Raymond says that all his life he's had to fight his way through, that if he ever stopped he'd get hurt. With her, he is all changed and feeling fine. Blonde is pleased to hear this and reaffirms that she'll always be by his side. He tells her he loves her, and “for the first time in my life, I'm not afraid of saying it.” He kisses her.
“I'll never forget,” she says, “Never.”
“I'll never give you the chance,” he says. “I'll always be there reminding you. Always.”
“Always,” she repeats, and they kiss again.
And we cut to the Old Lady mixing some potion over ominous music, and we hear her voice-over, “always an animal, in his eyes.”
The thing is, even though we know he's doomed, we're starting to develop quite a bit of sympathy for Ol Raymond. He seems quite genuine in his affection for Blonde, in fact quite overcome by it; whereas we saw Native Gal for a scene and a half, and are not quite sure what sort of promises were made to her. We have no onscreen history to say, “Hey, Raymond treated her poorly,” or “He promised to buy her that yacht!” or “I wonder what else is on TV?”
I guess the point I'm trying to make is, we're seeing a lot of Raymond and Blonde and we're sympathetic toward them and their predicament. Whereas Old Lady is seeming less and less like an instrument of Jungle Justice and more like an instrument of selfish evil. Lon remains a non-entity spouting ominous things, while Doc—hey, Doc, sorry about the tragic past and all, but if you end up with Blonde at the end, I'm going to feel seriously gypped here. What I would like is for Raymond to confront his past misdeeds and overcome them.
In other words, movie, you're making us like your villain (who I assume is still Raymond). This can be one of two things: a movie that has a great depth of characterization and can be framed as a tragedy of The Chance For A Better Life, Destroyed By The Past, or as rather sloppy storytelling.
Oops. I put everyone to sleep. I'll just set off this firecracker. Sorry! Sorry everyone. Back to the movie please!
Well, Doc shows up in his trim white suit and gives the old congrats to Raymond about selling the mansion. A fat guy there just basically agrees with the swellness of it all. They talk about Lon, who is due to show up with “the papers” making the sale legal and all. Everyone asks, where is Lon, and then he shows up, just like that (or like the Assistant Director gave him his cue).
Doc says Lon has “an intuitive sense—it's quite uncanny” about showing up at the right time and all, and Raymond, noting Lon, says “There he is...talk about him and he pops up, it never fails.”
Raymond and Doc chit-chat a bit, Doc says the only reason he's still in the jungle is that he signed a five-year contract with the government, to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations, and to suddenly think there's something odd about Raymond's eyes and to practically give him a Vulcan mind-meld. Well, that last part probably isn't in his contract but you know, adapt, adopt and improve and all that.
Raymond's having none of the mind-meld stuff, though. He turns away, insisting that nothing is wrong with him.
And Lon pops in, with the papers.
“I hope these are the final papers I must sign,” says Raymond.
Lon gets that far-away look and says, “We do not sign the final papers.”
“That's right,” says Doc. “I sign them! I'm the coroner.”
And we zoom in to Lon. “Exactly.”
Sorry, Raymond. That little bit of talk can't mean any good for you!
And we fade to Blonde packing. Native Gal comes in and tosses some clothes on the bed. Blonde offers her some of her stuff, in the chair, but Native Gal says that “someone” (probably Old Lady) doesn't like her to wear “these kinds of clothes.” (Note: Native Gal is wearing a skirt and a bikini top. Blonde hasn't worn anything as revealing throughout the film, even her nightgown stuff. Just noting.)
Blonde suggests throwing them away, then. And there's a knock at the door.
Doc pops in, whines that now he's sure she's leaving and saying he didn't quite believe it before. Ooo, and also, he has a tragic past, and plus a British accent.
Well, he doesn't say that, but it's only because he's so stiff upper lip and all. He pretty much says (not in so many words, mind) that it's too bad she's running off with Raymond, eww. She responds that the past, to her, is stone dead.
“I'd like to speak to you alone for a few minutes,” he says.
Native Gal is holding something, and she slams it to the floor as hard as she can. Blonde asks what's wrong with her, and Native Gal just says (much like John Belushi in Animal House) “...sorry.” But she leaves.
Blonde asks Doc what's wrong with him, and notes that he looks “serious.”
Doc says, well, dash it all, I'm British and I have a Tragic Past and I don't turn into an ape-creature! Go with me!
Okay, he doesn't say that. He says that he's worried about Raymond, and asks if he (Raymond) takes drugs.
“Quinine, that's all,” says Blonde, without adding that it was Doc's suggestion after all.
Doc says that when he tried to mind-meld with Raymond, he noted that his (Raymond's) pupils were all whacked out and stuff. “He looks to me like a man who's been poisoned,” Doc says, looking straight at Blonde.
Blonde says she'll bring him (Raymond) here to him (Doc) and Doc...looks smug. Probably thinking about cigarettes, eh Doc?
Blonde goes to the lobby of the mansion, where Fat Guy and Lon and some others are, and asks where Raymond is. They all think he (Raymond) was with her (Blonde). Oh, and we get some exposition about how Fat Guy is buying the mansion.
They call in Evil Old Lady, who says that she saw Raymond going toward the jungle.
[The Prurient's Corner] Hello and welcome to The Prurient's Corner! I'm here to point out that whatever this suit is that Blonde is wearing, you can see her nipples pretty clearly! Aren't nipples cool? Everyone likes them, even savages! Yes, thanks, and be sure to watch our show next week when we ruin The Brady Bunch! [End]
...I don't care who he is. No, I don't. I don't want that sort of thing showing up in the middle of my reviews! No, I don't care about that. I'm not watching porno tapes, for crying out loud! If he wants to talk about nipples, he--well...hello there! I didn't see you standing there! Let's get back to the review!
Well, later that night, in the waiting room, everyone is sitting around waiting for Raymond. Fat Guy is pretty peeved about it all, while Lon reads a magazine and Doc makes irrelevant conversations. Fat Guy leaves in disgust.
Fade to morning, and a dishevelled Raymond is making his way through the jungle. He looks at his hands, like they got blood on em or something, and he strides right up to the glass doors and opens them. He says he's glad everyone is gone.
Blonde indicates that was two days ago, and Raymond says fine, fine, fine, he's not going to sell the mansion, he “likes” it here. He also tells her that if she wants to leave, he won't stop her.
Blonde tells him Doc's theory about him (Raymond) being poisoned. But Raymond laughs this off. He knows Doc is in love with Blonde, but Blonde says there's nothing there. And Raymond says he's only happy out there...in the jungle.
He sits her down to tell her about this happiness. He talks about how his eyesight is better, his climbing ability is top-notch, and “I can smell a thousand smells.”
...did you like how I didn't make any obvious jokes there? No, no, you're welcome.
He talks about how cool it is in the jungle, and how this mansion and stuff are so old school, and Blonde, clearly shaken by this, tells him he's tired.
He agrees that he is (we get a shot of those peasants from earlier, peeking in the window as peasants are wont to do when denied free cable), and she asks him to go to sleep.
He agrees, saying he will sleep “until tonight. When it's night, I will show you the jungle. Then you'll know I'm telling the truth.”
Just then, the peasants, like peasants through the ages, decide to knock on the...window. Raymond opens the...window, which as it happens is a big door window. He asks them what they want, and they say they want to quit, there's an animal, and they're afraid. Someone was “trapped” by this animal but he got away (lifetime ticket for free beers, ignore him) and now no one will go into the jungle. Oh, they just want free beer too!
“What does it look like?” Raymond asks, not about the beer but about this here “animal.”
“It..it is...we don't know,” says Speaking Peasant, sending the proper exit interview strategy. “We just came to get our pay. We're going to move away from here, to Edward's Sonic Place.”
(Sorry, I've replayed it a “number” of times, and that's still what it sounds like. Sounds like a video game emporium to me. Would they pay better than Raymond? Also, you'd have to deal with teens.)
Raymond says he'll give them their pay, they say he owes two weeks worth, and when he offers the money, they shrink away.
They note that his hands look kinda like they have blood all over them. They, in peasant lingo, basically say “Ew, ick!”
Raymond lets the money fall, and we get a close up of these hands; however, it's a black and white film, so we don't get the full impact.
Fade to Doc offering Blonde something to calm her down. Oh, and also, he has a Tragic Past. Just so's you know.
“I'd be frightened if I weren't so unhappy,” Blonde offers. (Into the pantheon of great quotes goes that one.)
“He thinks he's a jungle animal,” says Doc. “What kind of animal?”
“He says he can kill!” says Blonde, which might narrow it down a bit. “He was rational up until a few days ago!”
Doc wants to put it all down to a native poison. But Blonde doesn't know why anyone would want to poison Raymond. Doc says, sure you do. Blonde says, no I don't.
He turns away, like he doesn't want to say this, and tells her that Old Lady is convinced Raymond killed Klaus.
“And you?” Blonde asks.
Doc says him too, he thinks it was no accident, but “pre-meditated murder.” Now, I'm not a lawyer, but it seems more like second-degree murder to me, perhaps even something as small as “negligent homicide” but what the hell, I'm hoping they're going to wrap this up soon anyway.
Anyway, Doc goes on and says that Blonde ought to commit Raymond to the asylum, despite the fact that she loves him. He has a lot of psychological clap-trap about how Raymond's subsconscious is making him act like a beast, so his concscience will be okay with all this murder and mayhem. Doc then says that Raymond will turn against her, because she reminds him of his crime. Blonde's not taking any of that, though.
Doc says, “It's my duty as a doctor to have him placed behind bars,” and he gets this very smug look on his face.
“Your duty or your desire?” asks Blonde. “You want to get rid of Barney,” she goes on. “You're in love with me, aren't you, Veet?”
Doc admits that this is so.
Blonde is not unsympathetic to Doc's feelings, but she says she will stay with Raymond forever.
And we fade to Old Lady, making more evil leaf potion. Actually, it looks like she's just used up the last leaf on the tree.
So now we get a subplot where the Old Lady has to get another such plant, and they only grow on one island in the whole world; so she finds and bewitches a millionaire into marrying her, and they go off on a boat to the island; unfortunately, there's a storm, the tiny ship is tossed, and she and her husband end up shipwrecked on the island with a skinny trouble-causing first mate, a fat captain, a movie starlet, a professor and a girl from Kansas. Eventually, they're all rescued, and the Old Lady sues the fat captain and skinny first mate, but they're defended by...Perry Mason! Well, the court explodes in laughter, “Case dismissed!” shouts the judge and everyone breaks for a commercial.
Back in the real movie, Blonde comes back to the house. Raymond comes up to her and announces that the servants have all quit, the workers have run away, “everyone's gone.”
Blonde takes this in stride. Raymond wants to know why she doesn't leave as well, as she is free. Blonde says she knows this, as Doc told her as well. Raymond thinks it's a good idea if she goes, as (I get the impression) he would hate to turn into an ape and kill her.
Blonde says she can't go, she belongs to him.
“You don't know the jungle,” he says.
“I do now,” she counters, “and I hate it. I hate it more than any woman that would take you away from me.” She also tells the bit about how everything thinks he murdered Klaus, but he doesn't care.
She wants to go with him when he romps out into the jungle, and he tries to nix this idea, saying that she doesn't have “the eyes to see, or the ears to hear.”
She tries to persuade him to say indoors tonight, but he strides off without another word. She takes off after him, and in a moment she follows. We soon cut to the both of them rapidly striding through the plants.
She yells at him to stop, and he does and turns around, and he looks at her, and then looks right at her chest! Oh, my mistake—it was me looking at her chest, he was actually looking at the gun she's holding.
He tells her to go ahead and shoot, but she can't make him go back to civilization. He says that the two of them don't belong together anymore, that he belongs to the jungle now. He tells her goodbye then runs off. Tearfully, she calls out to him and runs after.
Back at stately Blonde Manor, Doc shows up with a rifle, calling out for Blonde. He walks though the open patio door into the dining room. He's taking this “I love Blonde” pretty far. Lon walks into the dining room from another hallway, he has the evil plant, now shorn of all leaves.
They quickly put two and two together about the Old Lady, and decide to go out into the jungle and rescue Blonde (and shoot Raymond, Doc hopes I bet). Doc wonders how they can find them, and Lon says that he knows the jungle, “out there, my senses are those of an animal.” They stride off into the jungle.
We cut to Blonde running through the foliage. A pair of ape-like hands reaches into the frame, and snaps a little vine. Feel the savagery! We also get more shots of monkeys reacting in fear.
Finally, Blonde spots a panther, aims her pistol at it and shoots (looking and acting like someone who has never shot a gun in her life) and she either runs the other way or falls down (it's honestly hard to tell).
Doc and Lon hear the shot and rush off, then we cut back to Blonde wandering along the plants. The ape-hands part the bushes near her, and she looks everywhere but right where they are, of course. A hand-held shot follows her from behind, every now and then the ape-hands come up and brush away leaves, so we know this is Raymond-Ape following Blonde (about six feet behind her). She doesn't seem to hear any of this activity. This shot also proves, if I may say in modern “street” lingo, that Blonde Got Back.
We cut to Doc and Lon, just so they can react as they hear two shots ring out. “What was that?” asks Doc. Gosh, Doc, maybe it was a car backfiring, or someone has the TV on too loud!
But we cut to Blonde's terrified face, screaming as she slumps down a tree trunk. She's fainted, and we see two ape hands helping her off the ground. We see that her gun is left behind.
Back to Doc and Lon, they hear another scream and go “over there.” More predator stock footage, and a shot of Raymond-Ape carrying Blonde, who appears to have fainted yet again. You go girl!
Back to Doc and Lon, who spy a big bush and say, “It's in there!” and they start shooting that bush dead! That bush will never bother anyone ever again, thanks to you two! Oh, and here's hoping they're not shooting wildly at Raymond, who, after all, is still carrying Blonde.
Well, so much for hope, as the bush groans in unmistakable Raymond tones and something heavy plops to the earth. Raymond is then shown (in human, fully dressed form) rolling around on the ground a bit. He staggers up a bit, and looks into the water as Doc tends to the (fainted, hopefully not shot) Blonde.
Raymond sees the reflection of his Ape-self, which then fades back to his Normal-self. Just like the Hulk, his clothes change as well and the naked ape is now the dressed Raymond.
Too late for much of that sort of bitter tears on Raymond's part, though, as he pitches forward dead into the water. Doc cradles Blonde in his arms, and if he ends up with her, I'll hate this movie forever. Instead, Lon removes his hat in sympathy and we fade back to the jungle footage we saw at the beginning. Lon starts narrating again.
“Like something that has been haunting the world for millions of years, the jungle has risen to punish Barney Chavez, for his crime.”
THE END appears on the screen.
Well, overall that wasn't bad. It wasn't really the best thing I've ever seen, but then, what is? An interesting little ride of a film, with some unexpected developments.
By the way, Doc, if Raymond's shoving Klaus in the path of a random snake is “premeditated murder” to you, then what do you say about your emptying a gun into a bush that you knew had a Raymond in it? Well? I would say that qualifies as “premeditated murder, disturbing the peace with malice aforethought, threatening the environment, reckless endangerment, littering, and speeding through a school zone.” Into the clink with him, Lon!
Strange that they would set Raymond up to be so unsympathetic at first, then soften that and show him more and more as an undeserving victim (not to mention genuinely loving husband), then finally have him turn cold and unsympathetic again. This is, as noted earlier, either great subtle film-making or lousy plotting. Of course, seeing a bastard get what's coming to him, over the course of a feature film, seems like truly beating a dead horse; you have to have some kind feelings for the victim or you've got a movie that is one long mad-on.
I suppose what we have here is a Jekyll-Hyde story, and those never turn out well for Jekyll. The difference is that Jekyll brought about his own fate; one can sympathize, but there's also the wagging finger, “You shouldn't have messed around in God's domain!” Raymond, here, seems to have been condemned by Old Lady because he was rude (to Native Gal) and opportunistic (letting Klaus die). As the film progressed, Old Lady began to seem like the real villain of the piece.
And, to be quite honest, I thought (as if you couldn't have guessed) ol' Doc seemed like a cad. I suppose his suave urbanity was supposed to make him appeal to the audience, but he just seemed self-pitying and rather forward about Blonde.
Aside from being hot, Blonde was a sympathetic person who seemed to have affection for everyone. I suppose she was the audience surrogate, having strange things happen all around her and trying to make sense of it all. An interesting character, probably (other than Raymond) the most engaging of our emotions.
Recommendation? Well, I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but if it pops up on late night V, give it a go. You can leer at Blonde, sympathize with Raymond, and sneer at Doc with all the rest of us. Just keep your expectations low and your eyes peeled; once the jungle casts its spell, we can't trust any of our senses....
--December 28, 2004