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Image Entertainment presents
A*P*E (1976)

"Let's see him dance for his organ grinder now!"
- Col. Davis (Alex Nicol)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 30, 2001

Stars: Joanne De Varona, Alex Nicol, Rod Arrants
Other Stars: Jerry Hartke, Nak-hun Lee
Director: Paul Leder

MPAA Rating: PG for (tame violence committed by a 36 foot tall ape and language)
Run Time: 01h:25m:52s
Release Date: October 30, 2001
UPC: 014381030921
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

I think A*P*E was possibly intended as some sort of hip, funny take on the Japanese giant monster films of the 1950s and 1960s. However, it painfully lacks any humor whatsoever, aside from the absolutely atrocious effects. This film only merits a blip on the curiosity radar due to the starring of pre-Growing Pains mom Joanna Kerns (here billed as Joanna De Varona), whom I'm sure would love to see this disc vanish into obscurity. The story is so disjointed that it almost seems that it is culled from three separate projects, but the fact that all the characters eventually end up together kind of negates that point as far as I can tell.

A 36 foot tall ape, after escaping from captivity aboard a freighter, sets his sights on Seoul, Korea. Amidst plenty of poor quality balsa miniatures, a man in a flea-bitten ape suit wanders around aimlessly, stomping on villages and sending mobs of frightened villagers on the run. At the same time, American movie star Marilyn Baker (Kerns/De Varona) arrives in Seoul to begin work on a new film, and encounters her old flame, journalist Tom Rose (Rod Arrants).

In true King Kong fashion, the titular ape zeroes in on the only blonde in Korea, who just happens to be Marilyn Baker. The U.S. military gets involved in an attempt to stop the giant hairy beast from destroying the country, which only leads to countless scenes of miniature tanks being crushed by Styrofoam boulders. In between the hokey destruction scenes, Tom Rose runs around trying to rescue Marilyn wearing a leisure suit with a black turtleneck. Quick! Call the fashion police!

A*P*E's director and screenwriter Paul Leder, whose real claim to fame is I Dismember Mama (1974), seems to sleepwalk through this project, often repeating the same stock footage over and over and over again in an apparent effort to squeak out an 86 minute runtime. During one of the climactic ape vs. army scenes, Leder uses the same wobbly-Styrofoam-boulder-on-a-string-coming-directly-at-the-camera shot at least four times. To further confuse things, after destroying a helicopter, the giant ape flips off the wreckage with a middle-finger salute.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, there isn't much here to enjoy here. A*P*E is a pointless mess of a movie, that seems to run much longer than 86 minutes. I don't know if even MST3k'ers Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot could have salvaged this nightmare.

Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.00:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image has issued A*P*E in a 2.00:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer, which still doesn't prevent the edges of Joanne De Varona's name from being chopped off during the opening credits. The print is chock full of jerky cuts and bad splices, as well as a ton of specks. Color is of that horrendously faded 1970s variety, and varies in quality from scene to scene. The night scenes look almost completely black, with very little contrast.


Image Transfer Grade: D-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: I can't praise the audio transfer much, either. A typical, flat mono track is sole option available, and is ripe with problems, among them distortion and hiss. While I will chalk up some of the audio quirks to the original source print, such as choppy edits and poor miking, the overall audio track is just terrible.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras at all; nothing to explain perhaps the tongue-in-cheek intent of the film. Maybe that's a good thing.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Maybe the letters in this film's title stand for Abysmal Pathetic Empty. This could possibly rate as one of the worst pieces of dreck I have ever seen. Not quirky enough to be funny, and certainly not remotely frightening. A painful mess that mercifully ends after 86 minutes.

Avoid this at all costs.


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