Direction: Paul Leder
Screenplay: Paul Leder and Ruben A. Leder
Music: Bruce MacRae
Producer: K.M. Yeung and Paul Leder
The title of this movie may indicate a monster of primate origins, but the film itself is a dog under any nomenclature.
A*P*E may not be the worst giant monster movie ever made, but it would have to chart high on any Top Ten Worst list. The miniatures are largely low-grade; the pyrotechnics chintzy; the script inane; the music horrible; the "comedy relief" stomach-clenching; and the title monster's antics close to unbearable. Some sequences are so awful they throttle the mind, no doubt destroying several brain cells in the process.
Among other idiocy, the giant ape literally flips off the Korean military. This bit of nonsense plays like an obscene inversion of Godzilla's "victory jig" in 1965's Monster Zero. As for APE's costume, it is even worse than Toho Kong's much-denigrated monkey suit in King Kong vs. Godzilla.
You have to feel sorry for A*P*E's cast, even when they're rotten. Joanna DeVerona (a.k.a. Joanna Kerns) does her best as the obligatory blond with whom the giant ape is infatuated. But she's constantly blindsided by the inept direction, tacky production, and moronic storyline. No doubt Ms. Kerns cringes at the very thought of this movie; she probably wishes some kindly philanthropist would gather up all the prints of A*P*E and jettison them towards the heart of the sun with all due speed.
One particularly teeth-grinding sequence in A*P*E features the giant simian clapping (yes, clapping!) and swaying to the movie's music score (!!!) while the unconvincing model of a hang-glider awkwardly bobs over its head (!!!!!!). Gadzookeries! And then there's the scene where APE steps over an obvious wind-up toy cow. Please. We also get to see APE puke copious amounts of blood. Oh, goody, and right before dinner too.
Bad, bad, bad. I can scarcely think of a single good thing to say about this loser. Even from the angle of a kid's movie, it stinks, as it is littered with constant four-letter words, predominantly "g-----n" (which the American colonel spouts at least twenty or thirty times). I always found it annoying when seventies movies that were obviously aimed at the kiddie market tossed in unnecessary cussing.
And as for the "quality" of the non-vulgar dialogue, it is epitomized by the film's closing lines:
"Why? Why?" the tearful blond heroine asks the hero after APE has been killed.
Replies the hero, "He [APE] was just too big for a small world like ours."
How profound. How touching. How brain-warping!
All I can say is, I don't think I'll see a need during my lifetime to watch A*P*E ever again. But I have to recommend it to all kaiju eiga fans because it demonstrates how superior almost all other Asian monster fare is to this titanic tub of tripe. And besides, as the genre magazine Castle of Frankenstein used to say in its movie reviews, this one is so bad it has to be seen to be disbelieved.
Final word: Just in case you're wondering, Mighty Peking Man is a masterpiece compared to this mega-bomb.)