Cast & Crew
Somewhere in Asia, in 1913, drunk John Prendergast, a thieving American archaeologist, kills a monkey in a Hindu temple and then insults a priest, who places the "Curse of Kali" on him and seemingly brings a stuffed gorilla to life. Without a trace, Prendergast disappears with Chanda, his native girl friend, and remains hidden until he is spotted in the United States twenty years later by Mrs. Potter, a no-nonsense woman whose absent-minded professor husband was one of Prendergast's original sponsors. Mrs. Potter informs lawyer Jerome Ellis about her discovery and asks him to contact all of Prendergast's underwriters and their heirs. As instructed, Ellis brings together the remaining shareholders in the 1913 expedition--Jack Armstrong, a young insurance salesman; wealthy hypochondriac Geraldine Carfax; her clairvoyant companion Stella Walters; the Potters; and gambler David Fells--and extends them an invitation from Prendergast, who is now known as the philanthropic John Pren. At his estate, the partially paralyzed Prendergast, who employs Chanda as his housekeeper, explains to the group that, in spite of attempts on his part to appease the priest and the gorilla spirit Kali, his own health was ruined and two English shareholders were murdered when he attempted to pay them their ill-gotten earnings. Although intimidated, the group chooses to remain in the house and claim their share of Prendergast's two million dollar haul. After Jack becomes acquainted with Ella Browning, Prendergast's pretty English nurse, Stella organizes a seance to contact the spirit of Kali. During the seance, the sound of beating drums is heard, incense burns, and the lights suddenly dim. A moment later, Mrs. Carfax is found strangled, and Inspector Ned Pickens arrives to investigate. That night, the group hears the beating tom-tom again and discovers Fells, who was deeply in debt, dressed in an gorilla costume, dead. After fruitless questioning by Pickens, Jack is attacked by the real ape but escapes unharmed. Pickens accuses Jack of the murders and is about to arrest him when he finds Stella dead and Prendergast unconscious. Then a stymied Pickens receives a note from Scotland Yard ordering him to take the shareholders to Ellis' office. After a jealous Chanda overhears Prendergast propose to Ella, who has fallen in love with Jack, she releases the gorilla and commands it to kill her conniving, faithless lover. The group, meanwhile, learns from the Scotland Yard detective, who had been impersonating a mute plumber at Prendergast's home, about Prendergast's scheme to fake paralysis and use the curse of Kali to kill off all claimants to his fortune. Led by an anxious Jack, the police then rush to Prendergast's and rescue Ella from the hands of the killer ape.
The working titles of this film were The Ape and Curse of Kali. Monogram borrowed Verna Hillie from Paramount for the production. According to publicity items in the copyright records, Rham Singh "collaborated" with producer Paul Malvern and writer Albert De Mond on the "Indian" sequences in the story to assure their "authenticity." The exact nature of Singh's contribution to the final film has not been determined. A Film Daily production news item includes Marguerite Warner and Philo McCullough in the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Laya Joy, a well-known interpretive dancer, changed her name from Joyzelle just prior to the release of the film. Modern sources add Bruce Mitchell (Bartender), Dick Botiller (Hindu) and James Morton (Englishman) to the cast list. In addition, modern sources credit Max Alexander as production manager, and Abe Meyer as musical director. In 1940, Monogram made a second version of Adam Hull Shirk's play called The Ape .