Action, Comedy, Monsters

A*P*E (1976)

Comments Off on A*P*E (1976) 29 April 2017


Studio: Kino

Theatrical Release: October 1976 (limited)

Blu Ray Release: February 28, 2017

Director: Paul Leder


Review by James Klein

This Korean-made monster movie was rushed into theaters in the fall of 1976 to try and capture the hype that was circulating over the big budget remake of King Kong which was planned for a release date around Christmas of 1976. Watching Ape, it is hard to determine if this was a legit monster movie or if the film makers knew damn well that the movie was schlock and went for parody. Either way, Ape while awful, is very entertaining and quite awful in a charming way. 

The opening sequence somewhat sets the tone as two sailors (the two actors were absolutely shitfaced during their small scene) on a battleship (in long shots it is obviously a toy) discuss that they have captured a huge ape in Harlem and is taking the monster to Korea. When the creature breaks free, the monstrous ape destroys the boat and then fights a giant shark, which appears to already be dead as the man in suit slams the fish over and over again in the water. Where the fuck did they find this giant ape in Harlem? I guess it doesn’t matter as the rest of the film is just as ludicrous. 

Meanwhile American actress Marilyn Baker (Joanna Kerns from TV’s Growing Pains) is making a movie in Korea and while filming her movie, falls victim to the giant monkey’s love. As the ape takes his love, the military and film crew (even director Paul Leder plays Marilyn Baker’s director) give chase to the creature and try their best to rescue Marilyn and destroy the ape before it tears apart the city of Inchon and Seoul. 

What makes this film awful? Just to name a few instances the man in suit is wearing shoes at one point, the back of the ape costume is torn in the opening sequence, the acting is wooden with some actors being dubbed horribly, the film re-uses the same shots over and over again to the point where it goes from funny to annoying…I can go on and on. However, Ape at various moments of the movie, knows it’s a piece of shit and starts to ham it up. The ape dances, the actors start saying one liners (some actually work) and in my favorite moment of the film the ape flicks off the camera while being attacked by an air invasion. Even better, the film was shot in 3-D so boulders and rocks and barrels are thrown at the screen, with an all too easy to see wire attached to each object that flies across at the viewer. Some viewers will simply think the movie is awful and will hate it and I can’t really argue with that reaction but others, such as myself, may enjoy the tongue in cheek approach that Ape takes and maybe can appreciate what the film tries to do on such a low budget. 

Kino’s blu ray of Ape is presented in regular 2-D and in 3-D so for those with or without 3-D televisions can still enjoy the blu ray. Having a 3-D TV I was thankful to watch Ape in its intended 3-D although there is some bad ghosting images at times, most notably with the credits. It’s not an awful transfer but I have seen better. Presented in the original 2:35:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks decent although there is still some obvious print damage. I was impressed at how colorful the movie looks (well, except when the black ape is stomping on boats or cities during the night. In these scenes he blends so much into the background that it’s hard to see what is going on).  The DTS 2.0 track isn’t all that great and I found myself straining to hear what actors were saying. 

The only special feature aside from the theatrical trailer is an audio commentary by Chris Alexander (film historian and former Fangoria editor) and a quick, strange five minute or so commentary by historian Hillary Hess who jumps in during the middle of Alexander’s commentary to defend Ape. I am unsure why she did this or what the reasoning was for her to come on during the middle of the track but it’s weird altogether. Alexander’s commentary was just fine the way it is, providing some insight on the making of the film. 

Ape is the type of movie you may wanna show your young kids during a rainy afternoon if you get sick of watching the same old Pixar/Disney shit. It’s also a movie you can watch with a group of friends over pizza and beer. It’s dumb and ridiculous but does have some laughs, both intentional and not that I found to be amusing. There are worse movies out there than Ape so you could do worse. 

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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