In 1976, the first remake of "King Kong" hit theaters and wowed audiences with its incredible special effects. The film went on to be a huge commercial success, more than doubling its original budget. However, in the same year, another film about a giant ape was also released with little or no fan-fare, and now, said film has fallen into almost complete obscurity. That movie of course was Paul Leder’s A*P*E! In A*P*E, a giant 36-foot gorilla escapes from a transport ship, just off the coast of Korea. Mere moments later, the ape (portrayed by a man in a poorly made gorilla-suit) battles it out with a "giant" dead shark before making it to dry land. (Yikes! Now these guys are trying to rip-off Jaws! Is there nothing sacred to these bad movie makers?!)
From this point on, the giant ape roams the Korean peninsula and has a variety of "Curious George moments" in which the massive primate gets into all sorts of fun misadventures. The A*P*E battles it out with a group of kung-fu film makers after interrupting their film shoot (Be prepared for poorly done 3-D effects, as flaming arrows are fired at the goofy simian beast.), then falls in love with an American actress named Marilyn Baker, whose most recent venture into film involves a rape scene(?)! In true "Kong" fashion, the giant ape grabs the girl and whisks her away. Then Marilyn’s love interest, a reporter named Tom Rose, chases after her and rescues her just in time to allow the Korean army to blast away at the giant ape. In the end, the giant gorilla is killed (by a toy artillery cannon no less) and the untalented cast breathes a sigh of relief.
Originally filmed in 3-D, A*P*E was clearly trying to ride the coattails of Dino de Laurentis’ big budget "Kong" remake. However, it is painfully obvious that Paul Leder and company did not have the money to bring their giant ape film up to snuff. This is just a poor hack job of a superior film, but damn it I have to admit that A*P*E can be a lot of fun to watch! Due to its overall badness, A*P*E will definitely illicit some laughs from anyone who watches it. (The scene where the giant gorilla "flips off" the Korean army must be seen to be believed!) To survive a bad movie of this magnitude, I recommend that you common movie viewers keep some booze handy and watch it with several friends. This is clearly a movie that demands to be heckled by a group of drunken buddies! Bad movie experts like myself however can freely watch this cinematic piece of junk and not suffer any side-effects.
And believe it or not folks, A*P*E (after a short-lived VHS release from Goodtimes Home Video) is actually available on DVD! Those brave folks at Image Entertainment released A*P*E on DVD in October of 2001, and get this, the movie is featured in widescreen! Sadly there are no special features on the DVD, but boy I’d kill for an audio commentary. I really want to know what was going on in Paul Leder’s mind when he unleashed this abortion of a film on the world. Did he think he was making a good movie? Did he waste most of the film’s intended budget on cocaine and Saigon whores? I guess we’ll never know…. What I do know is that this film has two of the best taglines of all time:
Tagline #1: "Watch as it defies a giant shark, destroys a teeming city, demolishes an Ocean Liner, and vanquishes a monster reptile!" (Hooray for false advertising!)
Tagline #2: "Not to be confused with King Kong." (Hooray for truthful advertising!)
Rogue Reviewers Roundtable Topic: Spank the Monkey
Jordan’s Review Site: The B-Movie Film Vault