The Bloody Ape (1997)

DVD Cover (Wild Eye Releasing)
Genres / Traits: Horror, Natural Horror, Sex Horror, Slasher Film, Primates
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Keith J. Crocker Keith J. Crocker
Arlene Burns Arlene Burns
Bob Ceislick Bob Ceislick
Christina Zuber Crocker Christina Zuber Crocker
Kevin Crocker Kevin Crocker
Yalcin Cucyuksel Yalcin Cucyuksel

5.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: October 02, 2009
I don't think that it's much of a secret around these here parts - or at least this here site - that I'm a huge fan of exploitative schlock from the seventies and eighties. Hook me up with a new movie featuring oodles of kills, loads of blood, gratuitous nudity, and a paper-thin plot and I'll be all set for a pleasant night in front of the tube. Sure, I can appreciate a good arthouse flick and I can see the appeal behind a tear-jerking drama, but it's a simple fact that I'm a sucker for a good horror flick. Enter The Bloody Ape, a film that appealed to me far more than it should have, and a film that will also appeal to that certain little niche of horror connoisseurs who can appreciate garbage as much as I can.

Taking its cue from Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue, tonight's film centers around a carnie barker named Lampini (Paul Richichi) and the ape that is the centerpiece of his show. As it turns out, things haven't been going very well for poor Lampini: the town mechanic screwed him over on a repair bill, his Rabbi buddy tried to "Jew" him on a wedding ring, and worst of all, his girlfriend dumped him. What's a lowly carnival worker to do? Why, set loose the ape on the townsfolk who wronged him, that's what. Honestly, that's the extent of the plot: this ape raises holy hell in the town by raping and murdering the poor citizens, and though there's a subplot in there about the racist sheriff trying to pin the murders on a black guy ("witnesses saw a dark figure, it must have been ol' Sweetback!"), watching the ape go to work is the true selling point of the film.

By all accounts, The Bloody Ape is a bloody awful film. It was shot on Super 8 to give it that old-school horror feel, and though I have to give the filmmakers credit for accomplishing that goal, the final product looks worse than a third-generation VHS bootleg. The audio is serviceable for the most part but dips down into mediocre territory from time to time, the acting is laughable at best (strippers from the local titty bar were hired for the roles involving nudity, and it shows), and the kills mostly involve a guy in an ape suit rubbing a blood-like substance on the chest and stomach of the aforementioned strippers. Most reviewers would slap down a "0/10, avoid" before wrapping it up and calling it a day, but not me: no sir, I'm actually a fan of this type of garbage, and as such, I'm willing to go the extra mile for you fine readers.

You see, I wasn't lying when I said that The Bloody Ape was an awful film. As a reviewer, I can't point to any one thing in particular and say "you know, that right there is reason enough to plunk down your cash for the disc." However, that is part of the charm: the film itself isn't destined to become a classic, but it does provide us with plenty of the things that those of us who consider ourselves to be fans of sleaze enjoy. You want a solid storyline or breathtaking acting? Look elsewhere, but if you're in the market for plenty of boobs, a bunch of kills, and an overall product that you can kick back and down a few beers to, then look no further. That is how I viewed the film, and by that token, I enjoyed it to a certain degree.

Overlooking the aforementioned "problems", my one big gripe with the film was that even at just a shade over seventy minutes, it felt extremely padded. We don't even see the damned ape until thirty minutes in, and up until that point, it's just a bunch of scenes that have little importance... and the few important pieces of the puzzle that were revealed could have been brought up and firmly established in a quarter of the time. A little variety would have at least dulled the pain: watching the mechanic go off on a racial tirade is humorous at first, but it loses its charm after we've seen him go on about the "spics" and the "spooks" for a good ten minutes.

Overall, The Bloody Ape will appeal to a select group of horror fans, but everyone else would be well-advised to stay away. It's one of those films that revels in its low-budget roots, and it's also the type of film that nobody behind the camera could have possibly taken seriously... but at the same time, it is the type of film that can provide a good deal of entertainment if you walk into it with the right mindset. 6/10 sounds about right.
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