A.P.E. (1976) poster

A.P.E. (1976)

Rating:

aka The Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla; Hideous Mutant; Super Kong

South Korea. 1976.

Crew

Director – Paul Leder, Screenplay – Paul & Reuben A. Leder, Producers – Paul Leder & K.M.Yeung, Photography – Tony Francis & Daniel L. Symmes, Music – Bruce Mac Rae, Special Effects – Park Kwang Nam, Production Design – Lee Bong Sun. Production Company – Lee Ming Film Co.

Cast

Rod Arrants (Tom Rose), Joanna De Verona (Marilyn Baker), Alex Nicol (Colonel Davis), Francis Lee (Captain Kim), Jerry Harke (Lieutenant Smith), Alice Woo (Mrs Kim)


Plot

A giant ape escapes as it is being shipped back to Disneyland and rampages across the South Korean countryside, where it causes mass destruction and snatches up a beautiful American actress.


This South Korean production was made the same year as the Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong (1976). It was clearly hoping to exploit some of the expected success of King Kong – it opened within a week of King Kong, for instance. (In the 00s, it would have been mandatorily made by The Asylum as one of their low-budget mockbusters). The King Kong remnake producer Dino De Laurentiis even launched a lawsuit against A.P.E. distributor Jack H. Harris for attempting to exploit his publicity campaign. That is of course before King Kong premiered and became a big heap of ape dung that was hated by anybody who had seen the original. The poster for A.P.E. advertised itself with the byline “not to be confused with the original King Kong [1933]”. Clearly the distributor had the delusion that some audiences may have confused the two – and it is indeed possible, for A.P.E. blatantly steals from King Kong, even down to having the giant ape abducting a blonde actress.

In all other regards however, there is extremely little likelihood that audiences might have confused A.P.E. and the original King KongKing Kong is one of the greatest of all monster movies; A.P.E. is laughable in every respect. The effects work here is shockingly bad. The scenes of the ape destroying a ridiculously unconvincing model ship and then wrestling with a rubber shark at the start of the film are a clear indication of what is to come. The scenes that follow with the ape rampaging through and smashing obvious plywood houses and, in a couple of hysterically unconvincing model shots, stepping over a toy cow and batting a hanglider and pilot on a visible wire, produce gales of laughter in their ineptitude.

The giant ape in A.P.E. (1976)
The giant ape

Scenes of destruction go on and on without even the slightest degree of directorial conviction or dramatic interest being created due to the fact that the film eschews almost any type of optical shots whatsoever – we never see any shots of the ape and people together in the same frame. Although the reason for this could be that the three optical shots we do see that patch the ape over stock background shots of Seoul are some of the worst travelling matte shots in the history of special effects. The ape suit is immobile in expression and one can clearly see the eyeholes that have been made in the mask for the actor inside. There is stock footage of military vehicles on manoeuvres repeated several times throughout, which are meant to stand in for the massed military attack against the ape.

A.P.E. was originally made in 3D but has only been seen flat in the West. Thus there are an inordinate number of shots with extras throwing burning spears at the camera, soldiers rushing into the camera to pose and shoot, and the ape throwing the same rock on a wire at the camera.

There is the odd occasionally amusing line – “Let’s see him dance for his organ grinder now,” says the general as the military shoot the ape down. The hero’s end epithet for the ape – “He was too big for a small world like ours” – raises unintentional laughter. Alex Nicol at least gives an amusingly hard-headed performance as the American colonel (and should get some award for having to yell an entire performance into a telephone). In every other regard however, A.P.E. is an appallingly bad film – the most amusing thing about it was its 1983 retitling as Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla.

Director Paul Leder made a number of other exploitation films, including the nastily little psycho film I Dismember Mama (1972); My Friends Need Killing (1976) about a vengeful Vietnam Vet; the psycho film Sketches of a Strangler (1978); the Old Dark House film Vultures (1983); and the psycho films The Baby Doll Murders (1993) and Killing Obsession (1994). In an interesting trivia note, Paul Leder is the father of Deep Impact (1988) director Mimi Leder.


Full film available online here:-


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