Christina Zuber Crocker
Exploitation Killer Ape Movie
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The Bloody Ape (1997)
3rd Nov 09
Horny ape rampages around an urban hell-hole peopled exclusively by men and women who fell off the ugly tree that even Kathy Burke refused to be associated with.
If Edgar Allen Poe was the loveably perverse and good-humoured fellow that we think he must have been, he won’t be turning in his grave at the fact that The Bloody Ape credits its inspiration as his influential “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. Turning, no. Rubbing his skeletal remains against his Ye Olde Worlde coffin and yearning to become flesh and blood again to enjoy a merry wank, yes. Ditto also for Bill Landis, to whom the film is touchingly dedicated. Landis died too young over a decade after this Super 8 homage to 42nd Street Grindhouse features was made, but he would have been at least a little charmed by its rough and ready approach to exploitation.
Admittedly, it’s not for everybody. If you like the camerawork in your motion pictures to always be in focus, you might not appreciate The Bloody Ape , you ungrateful (and probably Nazi-supporting, child-fondling, Communist) bastard. (Note that the soundtrack sometimes sounds like it was recorded on Pound land microphones under the ocean). If you don’t laugh at the line “Your cock smells like an ape!” you probably won’t find anything else contained herein funny either. And if you haven’t waited two decades for a suitably phoney-looking penis-ripping moment to rival that seen in 1980’s Night of the Demon, you might not even enjoy this film’s delightful homage.
Everyone else : good news, The Bloody Ape is a grungy, sleazy, dirty tribute to the historically significant works of schlock-meisters like Herman Cohen and Herschell Gordon Lewis. In its look and sleazebag retro-New York City ambience, it specifically echoes Basket Case, and it showcases the same love of the late, lamented 42nd Street fare that Frank Henenlotter so often expressed. Most of all, though, it’s a movie in which a naked brunette with a hairy bush is raped by a homicidal gorilla who cums on her arse cheeks and then hollows her out like a canoe with tits. You could spend literally minutes searching for something similar on the internet and The Bloody Ape saves you all that precious time. Mmm…canoe…tits.
Just like the works of the aforementioned Mr Lewis and Henenlotter, director Crocker (who later made another retro exploitation flick, Blitzkrieg : Escape From Stalag 69) peoples the film almost entirely with irredeemable sleazebags. Chief amongst them is a hilarious Larry Koster as a fat, lecherous mechanic prone to alarmingly furious masturbation (“Doctor says I got a problem” - no shit, the guy wanks like Rusty Lee taking out all her frustrations on her least favourite mixing bowl). The flick prides itself on pissing all over the stern face of political correctness, beginning with Koster’s amusing interaction with a hapless black customer (“We don’t want no race riot here…”).
Just as memorable is Paul Richicki’s performance as the carnival barker, from whose circus the horny, dangerous eponymous ape escapes. The film keeps getting distracted by its own crudely drawn characters and often spends several minutes at a time caught up in ape-less extended bad-taste comedy sketches. Richicki is especially funny as an ageing showman with a real way for words : describing his beloved girlfriend as “the crab in my crotch”, he romantically serenades her with : “My love for you is as deep and wide as the expansions of your vaginal cavity”. (Note to male readers : if this line doesn’t work with your dearly beloved and get you a righteous shag tonight, assume that she is a lesbian).
Richicki is hot on the trail of his escaped ape, though finds little help from anyone : one guy he questions only wants to show him photographs of female arse. Also in the ensemble is Salvatore Finkel as a marvellously stereotypical, money-counting, Holocaust-referencing Rabbi with a profitable sideline in selling knock-off jewellery. And George Reis (who also portrays the ape in question) is a hoot as a hilariously unlikely moustache-sporting superintendent who spends the whole film looking in vain for a black guy just because a victimised traffic warden mistakes the ape for a (we quote) “crazy nigger”(!!!!?!).
It’s a very talky and amateurish movie, for sure. Actors sometimes forget that they shouldn’t be looking directly at the camera, and sometimes Crocker is too lazy to edit moments where they are clearly corpsing. The sound often drops out, the relentlessly chintzy Wurlitzer score is the work of a genuine madman and the cast includes nudity from the kind of girls you really wish would stay covered up (director Crocker paid local topless dancers $100 a piece to appear naked in the film, though he should really have got quite a bit of change out of that).
It’s still a lot of fun if you share its endearingly surrealistic and silly approach to subject matter familiar from movies as diverse as Konga and John Landis’ own Z-movie tribute Schlock!. It also has a misanthropic twist that surprisingly, um, ‘apes’ the bitterly ironic Civil Rights-era ending of Night of the Living Dead . More importantly, however, The Bloody Ape features a scene in which the gorilla molests and rips a rubbery nipple off an ugly lesbian, and a classic moment in which it steals a car and almost runs a parking attendant off the road. Of such stuff, movie magic is born.