* * * (1976, 81 minutes, Rated PG)
"Let's see him dance for his organ grinder now!"
Right around the time the ‘70s was giving the world its first remake of the 1933 classic King Kong,
Korea was churning out its own version. A*P*E has earned itself a spot in the Pantheon of Very
Bad Movies, even making the cover of The Official Razzie Movie Guide. Reviewing it, both here
and on the Lair of the Unwanted, was just a matter of time.
The film opens on aboard a toy boat (yes, really), where two sailors share a smoke and talk about
their cargo. They dance around the actual contents of their cargo, calling it “big boy” and whatnot.
One sailor – who talks exactly like Squidward from “Spongebob” – asks the mate if he was there
when they caught him… So, we’re doing a rip-off of King Kong, and
skipping the 80% of the film that takes place on Skull Island? Swell.
Sailor Squidward hopes that their 36-foot passenger says asleep
until they reach their destination, and First Mate Anvil assures him
that they used enough gas to keep their mystery guest asleep for
“oh, another five days or so.” On cue, a giant papier-mâché hand
busts out of the hull.
“Oh shit,” Sailor Squidward drones. Oh shit, indeed, as the entire
toy boat blows up. Out of the water comes a very wet guy in a non-
blown up ape suit, who immediately starts wrestling with a rubber
shark. And by “wrestling” I mean “flailing around.”
Yes, this film is very special.
Our Guy in an Ape Suit (GAS) then ape-walks on shore and starts trashing everything in sight.
Also, he appears to have tripled in size. GAS starts throwing oil cans, which explode like grenades
on contact. Just like in real life!
We leave that excitement for the next morning, when a famous actress (Joanna Kerns, Mrs. Seaver
from TV’s “Growing Pains,” in her first movie role) arrives in Korea and meets up with her reporter
|Joanna Kerns (the only blonde in the picture)
somehow never brought up her experiences
on A*P*E during her run on "Growing Pains."
boyfriend, Mr. Rose. He badly wants to
spend some quality time with Mrs. Seaver,
but is pulled away to investigate reports of
footprints “five or six feet across.” I guess
the trashed shoreline didn’t warrant
The film quickly falls into a routine: One
scene of Mr. Rose/Mrs. Seaver, one scene
of GAS trashing miniature sets and then
one scene of an obnoxious, racist army
colonel shouting into a phone. Those
scenes with the colonel are strangely
amusing at first. But after a half dozen or
so scenes of a single, continuous shot of
an army guy shouting into a phone, it gets
No, the real action is with GAS. He scares off a bunch of unsupervised schoolkids in an
abandoned amusement park. He interrupts the filming of a martial arts film, and the stuntmen
respond by firing flaming arrows at him. Every now and then, we see a handful of people run
across a field as towns are evacuated.
Yeah, the film is like that. There’s one scene where I think I saw GAS’s undershirt, and another
where I swear the GAS is wearing sneakers.
So the GAS is taking a break from his death and destruction to sit (legs crossed!) and chew on a
tree, watching Mrs. Seaver’s film shoot. Which, by the way, every seen we see of this film involves
her being chased or about to be raped. I have the unsettling feeling that this was meant to be
funny, but it’s so poorly acted that it can’t be taken too seriously. The GAS objects, and scoops up
Mrs. Seaver. After an eternity of dubbed screaming, she quickly shifts gears and purrs, “Be gentle,
big fella.” Um, okay.
Mr. Rose and his Korean Police Captain buddy pursue and exchange stilted dialogue. In the
film’s most memorable scene, two arrange a daring rescue where Mr. Rose runs in to retrieve
Mrs. Seaver while the GAS is being attacked by helicopters. It works. Then, when the GAS takes
out the last of the helicopters, he flips the audience the bird.
|Yes, this really happens.
|The GAS finally makes his way to Seoul and spends an insufferable amount of time smashing
miniature sets. The army responds with lots of stock footage of vehicles zipping around. The GAS
responds by throwing objects toward the camera, and yes, the strings are quite visible.
Colonel Shouts-a-Lot, who finally has authorization to take out the big ape, does so. “Let’s see
him dance for his organ grinder now!” the colonel shouts inappropriately. Everyone else feels bad
as the GAS dies. Why? He was on a non-stop rampage of indiscriminate killing since stepping
foot in the country. The whole humanity of Kong thing was apparently lost on the filmmakers.
Then again, general competence was lost on these filmmakers. I was expecting a lot out of the
notorious A*P*E, which is probably why I was someone disappointed by it. The film is definitely
worth seeing once – there are some great moments of cheese here – but it’s all pretty tired by the
A*P*E was a featured film on a recent episode of the Lair of the Unwanted.
You can also get second opinions of this film at