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A*P*E (1976)

If Dino De Laurentiis can present a full scale remake of 1933’s classic, King Kong, than surely writer/producer/director, Paul Leder, can launch this wanna be Kong via the Korean film industry with no less than the full co-operation of the U.S. Army as is seen over the opening credits in the same year.

With some definite budget restraints, this Kong re-imaging throws out the first act of Skull Island and begins aboard a ship bound for the mainland with the giant ape in it’s hull. Temporarily I might add as once the sleeping gas wears off a huge hairy fist crashes thru the deck and just might be the worst F/X anyone had seen since Attack of the 50 Foot Woman had a rubbery hand hauling away her no good husband. Having destroyed the ship and delaying his booked appearance in Disneyland, our gigantic A*P*E goes to battle against a shark, thrashing the rubbery creature all about. Might be a real shark out of the local fish market but it’s surely not biting back. Next up our man in a monkey suit storms ashore to destroy as many styrofoam buildings as he can. Good thing that suit didn’t catch fire either as the flames on screen were pretty healthy looking. Heaven help the actor inside the furry costume if they had.

Now let’s build some character development with our wanna be Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray in the guise of Rod Arrants and Joanna de Varona ( Joanna Kerns). Joanna is a big time movie star currently in Korea to film a new movie and Rod is a PR man and ex flame who happens to be on site as well.

While she’s filming the big A*P*E stumbles around the countryside scaring up a few extras to run amuck in front of the camera lens before the big guy actually turns up on the set where our Fay Wray substitute is currently filming. She’s dressed in red and what guy wouldn’t go for an attractive lady in red? Even if he does stand 36 feet tall and needs a body wax.

“Be gentle big fellah.”

The politicians want him alive and the army led by Alex Nicol want him dead. Model helicopters take up the chase mixed in with some of those real ones supplied by our helpful U.S. Army and just when you think this is more or less aimed at the kiddies, a scene involving a fifty something year old man and what appears to be a minor working as a hooker works it’s way into the script. Thankfully the scene doesn’t last long as our A*P*E takes a peek in the window ruining the moment for our paying John. Yes it’s time to evacuate Seoul and have a look at some of those panicked citizens as they flee. Talk about a bunch of hams on screen aping for the camera. Did you catch that? A*P*I*N*G* get it? Come on now, I’m going for the obvious laugh.

As this was also released in 3-D, watch out for those giant rocks on a string as they crash into the screen to give us that “watch out” effect. Not being overly coy about this Kong like production, the script even tosses in a few references to the original King just to keep things separate.

SPOILER ALERT

I’d like to add that this A*P*E had a slower death scene than the one Peter Sellers does at the start of his classic film, The Party as the Indian soldier/actor, Hrundi V. Bakshi, with the bugle leading the charge from a distant mountain top to hilarious results.

“He’s just to big for a small world like ours”

Don’t take this one too seriously and while I have fond memories of the other Kong movie released in ’76 due to seeing it as a kid on the big screen, this A*P*E turns the Di Laurentiis film into a bona fide classic by comparison. Thankfully Kino Lorber has put this out on blu ray for us fans of laughable cinema of which this one surely is.

So lighten up and have some fun!

9 Comments »

  1. When I saw this was coming to Blu-Ray, I got a hearty laugh because I’m used to seeing it on a ratty quality DVD or earlier, on a VHS tape with a few other movies. You can’t help but laugh at the whole thing. I recall a friend who went to see it back in ’76 because King Kong was sold out and A*P*E was close enough by that his parents took him to see it instead. I think he was mad at them for months!

    • This was my first viewing! Should have been in a room full of goofy movie fans. Would have been laugh out loud funny. I don’t know if this ever played locally here but then I was a little tyke and the DiLaurentiis flick was in overdrive when it came to marketing. Funny story about your pal.

  2. Can you believe I have NOT seen this one yet? But man oh man, I’m putting it on my list! Love that warning on the poster: ‘Not to be confused with King Kong’. Oh, really? And here’s a fun tidbit: it was filmed in 14 days, on a budget of $23,000!

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