The Bloody Ape. Sounds pretty cool doesn't it? Could be a classic 50's b-movie. Could be a modern horror film. It could even be a 60's exploitation movie spoof that's supposed to be based on Edgar Allan Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue"...oh wait, it's that one!
This is one of those films that are made to look, feel and emulate the cheapness of those old 60's exploitation films, but does it? Well, yes and no. I'll tell you why in a minute, but first I'll tell you what the film was about.
The Bloody Ape is about a carnival guy named Lampini who has a pet gorilla. That's a pretty cool basis for a film like this, right? Throw in his hot, trollop girlfriend that just dumped him, a racist car mechanic, a racist cop, a stereotype of a crooked, hasidic diamond merchant and a poor black guy who just wanted his car fixed and you pretty much have the film in a nutshell. The main gist of the story is that the animal trainer, Lampini, basically abused his gorilla to the point where it became a cold blooded killer. He teased it with bananas while starving it so that whenever it smelled bananas it would go nuts and kill everyone around them. Silly premise, but then again, many of the films this movie is paying tribute to have premises that were equally as silly. So how well did it work? Well...
I guess I'll start with what was good about this film. The main thing that you'll notice right off the bat is that the visual quality of the film looks absolutely dead on like what it should if it had been an actual 60's era exploitation film. I've never seen a modern tribute film that nailed the visual quality of old film stock so perfectly. Even the costumes, cars, settings, and everything else all were pretty much spot on and completed the look perfectly. Also, some of the actors played their parts as they should have for films of that era, the most notable of which were probably Lampini's girlfriend Ginger (Arlene Hansen) and the black guy who wanted his car fixed. Even Lampini (Paul Richichi) did a fair job with the acting through much of the film, though at times his performance got a little too cheesy.
That however, is about where my compliments for this film end. Now for the bad part...
This film is interminably slow and boring. The pacing of it is just mind numbing at times and the crappy dialogue doesn't exactly help things along. Many of the actors were also detrimental to the film. The guy who played Rabbi Rabinowitz was utterly fake looking and sounded more like a profoundly retarded version of Mel Brooks than a hasidic diamond merchant. The main cop in the film not only had utterly horrible line delivery, but they stuck him in this fake goatee that just looked ridiculous. If you look back at those old exploitation films, they at least made an attempt to not look like a cartoon versions of the characters they were trying to play. Then there was the gas station guy. He's totally racist, but has a Mexican assistant, which was kind of amusing. That however was where the amusement ended. He was utterly obnoxious, but not in a funny, over the top racist kind of a way, rather, it was more like that boorish, garden variety obnoxious that makes you want to beat someone to death. There was no fun to the character, which was a severely missed opportunity. That guy could have been an ass, but also been hilarious at the same time. All he ended up being was an ass.
Then there's the gorilla. Obviously a guy in a gorilla suit, so no big surprise there. There were three things that REALLY killed it for me though with the gorilla. The first was when he banged the rabbi's wife from behind before he killed her. That was just stupid. The second was the general way in which he killed people. Again, stupid, but also slow and totally lacking in any realism with the violent attacks. They often amounted to little more than the gorilla smearing what was supposed to be blood on his victims, but in a way that was so slow and fake that it was completely obvious. They had blood on them, but no wounds. Hey, that was a neat trick. The last thing that really killed it for me with the gorilla was when he stole someone's car and was driving it down the street. I mean come on, I don't think I even need to comment on that one.
This movie had all the right elements, the right look, the right everything to be a great tribute film to those cool old '60s exploitation films, but man, it just failed miserably on the entertainment side of things. I was SO ready for this movie to be over long before it was, and as it dragged on and got lamer (the car driving gorilla) and more boring (slow, slow pacing), I really just couldn't wait for it to end.
So basically, A for effort, A for look (except the gore which gets a D), and an D- for entertainment value. I didn't give it an F because there is something to smile at here and there, but not enough to make up for the tedium of the rest of the film.
If you'd like to find out more about this film, you can check it out at the Wild Eye DVD website.