A*P*E (1976)

As I began watching my freshly purchased copy of A*P*E (spoofing on M*A*S*H, don’tcha know), one question bombarded my consciousness: Why the heck would anyone buy this flick anyway?

I mean, I know why I bought it, despite not having seen it before. First, I’m a manic fan of giant monster movies. And it’s not unknown for me to watch the occasional bad movie. In this regard, I was in hog heaven with the film’s opening. This featured a toy boat, one whose blatant shoddiness and artifice would remain unmatched until the finale of the killer mutant cat epic The Uninvited.

The ship quickly sinks beneath the wading pool waters upon which it bobs, due to the efforts of our purportedly simian title character. Then a cardboard fin pierces the water, magically turning into a dead shark. The lead character thrashes this around for four or five minutes – at times you can spot the actor’s white T-shirt peeking up from a rip in the suit’s right armpit -- producing a battle royale that inevitably calls to mind Bela Lugosi performing similar ministrations upon an inert rubber octopus in Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster. After that things start getting quite silly.

Soon a somewhat over-the-hill Caucasian actress– the film was made in Korea – makes her appearance. Anyone who would be even remotely interested in this film can probably take it from there.

A*P*E was rushed out, in classic exploitation fashion, to ride on the coattails of the then upcoming big budget King Kong remake. For what it’s worth, our current subject makes that famously lame flick look good. In fact, it even makes its fellow Asian giant ape movie, the much more gonzo Mighty Peking Man, look good. Probably the saddest thing is that there’s yet another giant ape movie, The Mighty Gorga, that makes A*P*E look good. Well, almost as good as Mighty Peking Man, anyway. (And I haven’t even mentioned Son of Kong, or King Kong Lives, or Konga, or…) Masochistic viewers will find MPM also out on DVD, and with the Something Weird company owning the rights to Mighty Gorga – at least they had once put out a video version – even that might come tumbling out of the banana tree one of these days.

As I watched the film, presented via a beautiful enhanced transfer by the fine folks at Image Entertainment, one question bombarded my consciousness: Why the heck would anyone bother to enhance a transfer of A*P*E? The film looks so good, at least for what it is, that it almost seems perverse. I mean, yes, there are speckles and such, but you really have to expect that with films of this, uh, caliber. Of course, given the level of ‘special’ effects on display here, digital clarity isn’t always an advantage. The sound’s about as good as you could reasonable expect.

Nada. Zip. Not even a trailer. The only ‘extra’ on display here is extra cheese, if you know what I mean, and of that there’s a plethora.

Ken Begg, 2/27/2002