Awesome/awful creature movies #1: A*P*E* (1976)

Here we have the masterpiece A*P*E from 1976 an atrocity of the highest proportions distributed by the cleverly named Worldwide Entertainment. The film was released in the fall of 1976 just prior to the big budget release of King Kong, an expensive ($25 million at the time) borefest by Dino De Laurentiis that Paramount Pictures was getting ready to release.

A*P*E was a Korean/American joint production that could not have been done any cheaper if they tried. It was “directed” by Paul Leder whoever the hell that is. The effects are comical as it clearly at ALL times is some drunk in an ape suit. An ape suit that looks like crap. In fact, I’d say it looks like a drunk guy who happens to be very hairy. Maybe that guy on the beach you pray puts his shirt back on, but not a giant ape. At times, one can actually see a t-shirt being worn by the guy in the ape suit and it’s usually not the same sized guy!

When A*P*E fights a shark in the beginning of the movie after escaping from an oil tanker (why was he there?) you really are rooting for the shark. Apparently, the shark was a reference to Jaws, although I’m not sure how.

Somehow, the producers thought the A*P*E acronym was amusing (a supposed spoof of M*A*S*H*, the legendary TV show set during the Korean War), standing for Attacking Primate Monster. Of course, that comes out to A*P*M, but what do I know? The Korean extras in the film have no acting ability in any language, and in fact appear to be laughing most of the time that they are supposedly fleeing in terror. The music isn’t even of 70’s porn quality (and was scored by the infamous Bruce Mac Rae and Chung Min Sup) and the editing is abysmal. The score does have that legendary Min Sup quality though.  Sometimes dialogue gets cut off in the middle of a sentence, not a bad thing here, to be honest.

A*P*E has many talents. He dances, vomits, and even gives us, the audience a middle finger which is beyond appropriate. Of course, A*P*E fights off a snake, a shark and natives who throw spears lit on fire at him. It should be mentioned at this point, that A*P*E somehow was in 3-D and this scene in particular was supposed to be amazing. It wasn’t. I actually saw this piece of crap with my Dad in 3-D no less. I was excited as hell, but I was only 7 years old so that part is key. My Dad was far less excited.

There is the clichéd damsel in distress played by one Joanna DeVarona. She would later become Joanna Kearns and played the mom in the cheesy sitcom Growing Pains. One would think A*P*E was not on her resume. She was playing an actress making a film but A*P*E decided to destroy some buildings and interrupted the movie to steal the lead actress. Very original might I add. Not at all like King Kong.

Paramount would sue the makers of A*P*E when they first put out teaser posters in theaters advertising the film with the title The New King Kong. A $1.5 million dollar suit was filed, and thus the brilliant choice of A*P*E was arrived at. The new posters also had the tagline “not to be confused with King Kong”. Of course, you’d have to have been high on smack to confuse A*P*E with King Kong.

While A*P*E was a bomb, it has lived on as a cult classic for good reason. It sucks. A lot. And that’s a good thing. A*P*E is often referenced as one of the worst films ever made. That’s because it is!

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