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A*P*E (1976)
aka Ape, Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla
Article 3717 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-3-2011
Posting Date: 10-18-2011
Directed by Paul Leder
Featuring Rod Arrants, Joanna Kerns, Alex Nicol
Country: South Korea / USA
What it is: The nadir of the giant monster movies

A giant ape gets loose in Korea.  Panic ensues.

For a while I was part of a movie-watching group called The Exposed Film Society which tried to dig up some of the worst cinematic atrocities for our viewing "enjoyment".  As time went by, three movies ended up having such a permanent impact on us that they became de rigeur for initiations of new members to the group.  I've covered one of these so far (2 + 5 MISSION HYDRA).  This is the second.  The best summary of our reaction to this one came from one of my friends who said "This movie hates you!"  I was quite startled to find that one of the IMDB reviews used almost the exact same phrase.  So, taking this as my cue, I'm now going to give you "10 Ways the movie A*P*E Hates You".

1) The movie has simply the most godawful special effects I've ever seen in a giant monster movie.  Not only that, it doesn't even care how bad they are.  Any self-respecting movie of this sort wouldn't try to pass off the mechanical cow as a real one as this one tries to do.

2) If there's any audience that would be most attracted by a movie about a giant ape, it would be children.  This movie instead tries to present itself as a racy, adult giant monster movie, thus shooting itself in the foot.

3)  Not only does it try to present itself as a racy, adult giant monster movie, but it does it badly.  Those expecting a racy good time will have to settle for a few bad double entendres, a shot of Joanna Kerns in a see-through bra, a crass and stupid staged attempted rape (being shot for a movie), and lots of gratuitous cussing.  Even a sequence where the ape peers into a window to watch a couple making love stops at the point that a woman has just taken off her jacket.  Anyone expecting racy pleasures from this movie will walk away disappointed.

4) Every scene featuring Alex Nicols as the beleagured Army Colonel is painful.  For the longest time I used to think it was the acting of Nicols himself, but upon watching it this time, I realize it's because he was given the worst dialogue in the movie.... as well as most of the gratuitous cussing.

5)  The movie makes some of the most repetitive attempts at utilizing the 3-D gimmick I've ever seen.  How many times can you see a soldier aim a gun straight at you and fire?   How many times can you see the giant ape throw a rock at you?   How many gratuitous sequences can you handle that only exist because of the 3D effects?  Some of these scenes are never even resolved, such as the one in which the giant ape interrupts the filming of a martial arts film.

6) When the giant ape is carrying around Joanna Kerns, her screams are constantly looped in the soundtrack.  If this doesn't annoy the hell out of you, you're probably deaf.

7) Everytime the military comes out in force, you will hear an endless loop of a "drum and bugle corp" melody that is sure to drive you up the wall.  And that's not the only musical motif that gets overworked during the course of the film.

8 ) Every time the giant ape battles the military, he waves his arms around in a meaningless manner that will leave you wonder what he's trying to do.  Is he conducting an orchestra?  Swatting flies?  Performing an interpretive dance?  Trying to get his underarm deodarant to dry?  Occasionally he manages to knock a helicoptor out of the sky, but I'm sure it's coincidence.  But whatever his intention is, it's pretty annoying.

9) The movie features puppet antics.  And children whose sole dialogue in the movie is to laugh at puppet antics.  This is never recommended.

10)  And finally, there's the moment when the giant ape flips off the audience.  Yes, ostensibly it's aimed at a helicoptor he's just destroyed, but I'm not fooled -  I know it's directed at me and at anyone else who sat through this movie.  As my friend said before, this movie hates you.

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