Son of Ingagi

07/22/2020 07:40

Film: Son of Ingagi

Year: 1940

Director: Richard C. Kahn

Writer: Spencer Williams

Starring: Zack Williams, Laura Bowman and Alfred Grant



This was a movie that much like the original, I heard about on the Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. When I saw this popped up on my list of 1940 horror films for my Journey Through the Aughts segment, I figured that I would give it a go. I knew the historical significance coming in and having earlier in the week brushed up on Ingagi in preparation. The synopsis here is a newlywed couple is visited by a strange old woman who harbors a secret about the young girl’s father.

We kick this off at the wedding of Robert Lindsay (Alfred Grant) to Eleanor (Daisy Bufford). Some of the guests include Bradshaw (Earle Morris) who is a lawyer, Detective Nelson (Spencer Williams) and a Dr. Helen Jackson (Laura Bowman). Helen tells Bradshaw she would like him to come over to draw up a will. We see that she is frugal and standoffish, agreeing on a hard bargain of $5.

After the ceremony, the couple thinks they’ve tricked everyone that they’ve gone off on their honeymoon, but their friends are not fooled. They go over to the newlyweds’ house for a party. It ends though when the foundry where Robert works go up in flames, some of the men try to help along with him to put them out. Eleanor is left alone and then visited by Dr. Jackson. She thanks Eleanor for inviting her to the wedding and we see that the younger woman is quite fond of her. It is revealed that Dr. Jackson knew her father before he passed away and gives her a gift that he gave to her before leaving for Africa.

Once Dr. Jackson returns home though, her brother Zeno (Arthur Ray) shows up. It is well known that Dr. Jackson is hording a fortune and he’s there to relieve her of half of it. Dr. Jackson though is harboring a secret in her basement that changes Zeno’s mind. The secret though ends up killing her and going on a spree that brings Eleanor, Robert and the rest back to this house. The couple also needs to clear their name as they’re the prime suspects from all the evidence.

Now that’s where I’m going to leave the recap, because to be honest, there isn’t a lot to the story. It is really quite basic and it is a shame, as I feel that there are some opportunities here for sub-plots. If you didn’t hear or read my review of the original film, it was a racist work that was claiming that ‘ingagi’ means gorilla in Africa. In that movie, they’re trying to claim the missing link is that a tribe of women are mating with apes. This movie is picking up that there’s one of these offspring named N’Gina (Zack Williams).

Something I alluded to earlier, Dr. Jackson seems to have loved Eleanor’s father before he married her mother and the two passed away. She went on a mission to Africa and when she came back, she brought gold and something else. There are rumors that she brought gold, but no one really knows the truth. This is where I feel they could have developed and deepened things more. Eleanor states that she thinks Dr. Jackson loved her father. We see she is doing an experiment and I’m assuming it has to do with N’Gina. Since this runs just over an hour, I think a subplot of what she was working on or add a bit more there would have helped. The movie really gives us a taste and even just giving us a bit more here could have deepened the rest of the movie.

One of the biggest draws for this movie though is that it took a racist film and made it their own. Every actor in this movie is black and they’re in prominent roles like doctor, lawyer, detective and chief of police. I’m giving credit for being one of the first to do that, which if memory serves this is the first creature feature to do so. It really does add an element and I will give it its do there.

I’ll shift this over to the acting then next. As much as it pains me to say for the praise of everyone selected in the movie, no one really is all that good though. I think that Bowman is fine. She actually plays her role with range where she is mean at first and softens due to the kindness of Eleanor. Bufford and Ray are fine in their roles. Part of the problem is I want one of them to be the hero and they’re not. Spencer Williams brings some humor to the role that didn’t necessarily work for me. It is interesting that he also wrote this screenplay. Zack Williams has good size for the creature and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

The last few things to just through out there are that I thought the look of N’Gina was pretty solid. They make him up to look part ape and part human. Aside from that, the print wasn’t in the greatest shape. It has a low run time which is nice, but I did want more and the soundtrack was fine as well. It did feature a singing quartet of The Four Toppers.

Now with that said, I really wish I had more that I could brag this movie up about. I think that it is great they made this to take back what the original did. The racist film getting a sequel with an all black cast is great. I just feel that the movie was lacking though a subplot to really help deepen it. I did think the acting was fine and the effects are lacking but I didn’t have any complaints. This also probably didn’t get help that it had to pass the censor boards. Regardless, I enjoyed this much more than the original, but I do have to say this is just below average for me as it is lacking too many things to put it over the top.


My Rating: 4.5 out of 10