Even by the standards of 1932, the horror film The Monster Walks is pretty tame. It was not as if the cast did not do a good job because they did, the film simply featured nothing that was overly scary, nor would it have frightened audiences even then. Sure, there was murder and that was nothing new to the big screen, but you could get more fright from a Chaney film from years previous than this particular movie. Perhaps the filmmakers thought that because this picture featured an ape, that they could play up the fears that went along with them, though why people would fear an ordinary monkey that was only a few feet in height and caged to boot is a little strange.
The story of the film has to do with a man that has died, leaving his estate up for grabs. The daughter looks to be inheriting it all except for a small stipend that will be paid to the help and it is this lack of funds that has the housekeeper and her son up at arms. To that effect, they look to get rid of Ruth, the aforementioned daughter, but things soon start to go wrong and Ruth manages to survive while others do not.
The plot of the movie is a common one – greed leading to a plan for murder, and while it has been seen many times over the years, the movie tends to do a good job about it. Vera Reynolds plays our heroine and the damsel in distress and manages to straddle that line between the two competently enough. There really is not all that much material to work with, the film only lasting just over an hour and there are times where it tends to lag a little bit, but not overly so as to lose interest in it. Using the ape as a cover for murder was a good idea in theory, but it loses steam and credibility as the ape is continuously locked up in the basement. That aside, there is some minor suspense, but no horror and that is a bit of a shame as the film seemed to promise some.
The Monster Walks is a decent film, but nothing more and worth a watch on a lazy Sunday or late at night when everything else has ended. Sadly, the only monster present is of the human variety.
2.5 out of 5