Back of the box...
“Thirty-six feet and ten tons of animal fury leap from the screen as A-P-E unleashes a primal attack on civilization. Not since the Golden Age of King Kong has a giant gorilla wreaked so much havoc and destruction. See A-P-E demolish an ocean liner and defy the JAWS of a giant great white in his escape from captivity. See A-P-E destroy a movie set in search of the American actress Marilyn Baker (Joanna De Varona), his only true love. See A-P-E devastate an entire city in a desperate attempt to relocate the escaped Marilyn. Watch A-P-E vanquish a Giant Reptile in a duel of earth-shattering proportions and fight off all the firepower the authorities can muster! Watch all of humanity tremble and scramble in the shadow of this hairy horror. This is no ordinary murderous monkey. . . this is a towering terror, a primeval and powerful primate, a gargantuan gorilla with destruction on his mind THIS IS A-P-E!”
Director: Paul Leder
Starring: Rod Arrants, Joanna DeVarona, Alex Nicol
Watch the Trailer
We didn’t make it to the theater this weekend to see Kong: Skull Island but we did find time to watch a shitty King Kong rip-off on YouTube! A*P*E is an American / South Korean co-production starring the mom from Growing Pains, a dead shark, and an endless amount of posterboard and Elmer’s glue. Sure, the special effects and casting may pale in comparison to the new Kong flick, but what A*P*E lacks in “goodness,” it makes up for in hilarity. Also, how many films can claim the honorable distinction of being featured on the cover of The Official Razzie Movie Guide! That’s A*P*E!
A*P*E is an acronym for Attacking Primate monstEr and was written with asterisks to reference the TV show M*A*S*H. We actually have no idea whether any of that’s true, but it’s pretty funny though. An early entry into the “Mockbuster” genre, A*P*E was released only two months before the 1976 King Kong remake starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. We’re sure the producers of the remake were really sweatin’ over the competition at the box office.
The movie starts with the titular “A*P*E” on a boat bound for Disneyland when suddenly, in a tiny hellstorm of toy-boat explosions, he escapes. But wait! Before he makes it to shore he’s attacked by a giant shark! Just minutes in and we’re already watching a guy in a bad gorilla suit mutilating the body of a dead shark! Shortly after, A*P*E is smashing flaming posterboard buildings à la 80’s arcade game Rampage. So you’re probably wondering, is there a story? That’s just what we were thinking around this point too, and the answer is yes! An American movie star named Marilyn (Joanna Kerns) has arrived in town to shoot her newest film, Rape: The Motion Picture! Seriously, every time you see them filming they’re shooting a rape scene. Now that we have our fitting damsel-in-distress, can you guess what happens? You got it, A*P*E is gonna fall in love with the blonde movie star while the military, as well as her latest male suitor, try to save her! Will they?. . . eh, save her, let her die, whatever, as long as she stops screaming we don’t really care.
A*P*E is so hilariously terrible, we were in tears from laughter. The bad acting alone could elevate this movie into so-bad-it’s-good territory, and then you see the special effects! We already mentioned the posterboard cities, but some of A*P*E’s best moments are out in the empty fields of rural South Korea. A couple of our favorites are when he steps over a small dog painted to look like a cow on his way to torment some hang gliders and then later when he swats a helicopter out of the sky before turning and flipping off the camera. The military battles are truly a treasure to behold. Imagine an aging hippy on some bad acid, flailing his arms around at a music festival. Now imagine him in a gorilla suit with M-80s and bottle rockets going off all around him. Intercut that with some shots of tanks and soldiers and you’ve got A*P*E! The budget issues aren’t only apparent in the special effects, we also got a strong impression that some of the American actors weren’t able to foot the bill for tickets to South Korea. Really, who uses rear projection for an airport parking lot scene? That’s not even the worst of it, it would appear that one actor literally phoned-in his performance. Colonel Davis (Alex Nicol) is an American supposedly stationed in South Korea but spends almost the entire movie in his office on the phone! The conversations are all one-sided, with his assistant standing by to ask what was said. It’s the laziest, most repetitive use of an awful expository tool we’ve ever seen! But it’s soooo funny. We were curious just how much time this film spends on the phone. So we added it up!
Phone conversations: 0:15:25 - 0:15:55, 0:17:27 - 0:18:47, 0:21:56 - 0:23:04, 0:23:44 - 0:24:12, 0:34:25 - 0:34:34, 0:42:21 - 0:42:39, 0:42:45 - 0:43:30, 0:53:38 - 0:54:42, 0:56:07 - 0:56:57, 1:00:23 - 1:00:30, 1:04:38 - 1:04:42, 1:05:00 - 1:05:07, 1:05:20 - 1:05:26, 1:05:38 - 1:05:49, 1:08:59 - 1:09:31, 1:12:17 - 1:13:03, 1:14:58 - 1:15:01, 1:17:42 - 1:17:58, & 1:22:01 - 1:22:05.
Total time spent on the phone = 8:48, or 10.25% of the film.
“Phone Shot” honorable mention award goes to 1:23:43 - 1:23:46 when Col. Davis is still holding the phone he was using in a previous shot.
All but two of the phone conversations we logged involved Col. Davis in some way, and involved him either making a call or being on the receiving end of one. We were shocked when, in one scene, Col. Davis appears standing next to one of the Korean actors! What kind of movie magic is this?!
As far as so-bad-its-good movies go, A*P*E is up there among the greats. Though it’s probably still fun to watch on your own, this is the kind of movie you’ll want to watch with friends. Trust us, you’ll need that extra person there to confirm that you’re really seeing what you’re seeing. “Did that A*P*E just barf a bunch of blood?” Yes, yes he totally did.