The Film (3/5) *
A giant gorilla is found off the coast of Korea. As it’s being taken away, it suddenly awakens and sinks the ship. Once freed, the large Ape (or A*P*E*, Attacking Primate Monster) starts a path of destruction throughout Korea. While this is going on, a US Korean co-production movie is attacked and its leading lady (Joanna DeVarona) is kidnapped by the giant monster. It’s all a matter of time before there’s a low rent King Kong showdown between the A*P*E and the Korean/US military.
A*P*E (1976) is one of the great infamous cult films, thanks in large part, to its place in pop culture through the Razzie awards, and being featured in John Wilson’s book, “100 Most enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made”. The image of the giant Ape flipping the bird to the camera, is now one of the golden moments in Bad movies. It’s also unusual for being a cash in on KING KONG (1976), it’s also mentioned in the movie, but an entry in the Kaiju genre because of its Asian setting.
Getting the negative out of the way first, the movie is nearly plotless. The monster is shown in the first 3 minutes, so any tension is quickly destroyed. Within the next five or so minutes, The Ape is fighting a giant rubber shark, and any chance for credibility goes out the window. The rest of the movie barely plays out like a “real” movie. It’s filled with bloopers, camera shadows, and twice you can hear the director yelling cut in the take. So, if you’re expecting KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962), you’re really getting more of a GODZILLA VS MEGALON (1973). Where the movie shines are in its locations, and the films breakneck and wacky pace.
While the effects are dirt cheap, the monster scenes are hilarious to watch. The Ape costume is passable at best as a suit, but the actor is having the time of his life shaking his arms in the air and making a mess of things. The editing and locations give off an early Golden Harvest Studios Martial Arts feel, so there’s a warmness to the cramped sets and countryside sites. The two most entertaining elements are the out of left field soundtrack by Bruce MacRae and the hilarious Col. Davis (Alex Nicol). MacRae’s score is so bonkers when compared to scenes it’s in. With the stand out moment being, when the APE suddenly spies on a playground filled with kids. Alex Nicol (THE SCREAMING SKULL) completely dominates the movie as the smart ass Colonel, who seems completely unqualified for his job.
*While in no way a “Good movie”, A*P*E is endlessly entertaining. It’s the perfect cure for the Saturday blues if you’re into Monster movies. Which if your reading this site, is safe to say. As strictly on filmmaking value, A*P*E is more in the 2.5 league.
Audio/Video (2.5/5) **
Kino presents the movie with its 2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio track. The sound mix is all over the place. There’s a light hiss heard throughout the movie. During scene changes, the loud pops of the film reel can be heard, and the actor’s voices suddenly drop to a low level. Sadly, no subtitles are included.
The 1080p HD transfer is also hit or miss. The picture is mostly clean, but is over lit. The picture has blurry digital effects in the corners. Film grain and film burn marks are all over the picture, and the opening credits look rough. The rest of the movie varies in quality. The textures of material are soft. The picture seems slightly off focused.
** The rating is biased in the fact that I personally don’t have a 3D TV. The 3D version may be a huge improvement, but it’s hard to judge. So, your mileage may vary.
The main extra is an audio commentary by Film Historians Chris Alexander and Hillary Hess. The track itself is fine, but from the start it’s off balanced, as Chris Alexander spends a little too much time introducing himself. There’s plenty of information on the film and its production history. Rounding out the disc is a trailer gallery, with trailers for: A*P*E, THE BUBBLE, GOG, THE MASK, and SEPTEMBER STORM.
A*P*E is one of the most enjoyable bad movies out there. If your craving silly monster action to share with your friends, this should do the trick. Recommended.