Ape (1976 film)

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APE Korean poster.jpg
Korean theatrical poster for A*P*E
Hanja 킹콩의
Revised Romanization Kingkongui Daeyeokseub
McCune–Reischauer K‘ingk‘ong ŭi Taeyŏksŭp
Directed by Paul Leder
Produced by K.M. Yeung
Paul Leder
Written by Paul Leder
Richard Leder
Starring Rod Arrants
Joanna Kerns
Alex Nicol
Music by Bruce Mac Rae
Chung Min Sup
Cinematography Daniel Symmes
Tony Francis
Kukje Movies
Lee Ming Film Co.
Distributed by Worldwide Entertainment
Release date
  • 1976 (1976)
Running time
87 minutes
Language English
Budget $23,000[1]

Ape (stylised as A*P*E and released in South Korea as 킹콩의 대역습 - King Kong eui daeyeokseup; The Great Counterattack of King Kong) is a 1976 monster movie. It was an American/South Korean co-production produced by Kukje Movies and the Lee Ming Film Co. (South Korea) and Worldwide Entertainment (USA) with 3-D effects. Directed by Paul Leder and featuring special effects by Park Kwang Nam, the film stars Rod Arrants, Joanna Kerns and Alex Nicol. It was released at approximately the same time as Dino De Laurentiis' 1976 remake of King Kong. The film is generally regarded by some critics as a campy Z movie. In latter years the film has gone under the titles of Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla (for its 1982 grindhouse re-release),[2] and Hideous Mutant (for its original home video release).[3] It marked an early film appearance by Kerns, who later moved to TV movies and shows.


A 36-foot-gorilla escapes from an oil tanker off the coast of Korea. After battling with a giant great white shark, the ape reaches land and destroys several buildings and attacking a giant python (the snake's origins are never revealed) before finding and kidnapping an American actress named Marilyn (Joanna Kerns). The military eventually corners and kills the ape, prompting one observer to comment, "He was just too big for a small world like ours!"


  • Rod Arrants as Tom Rose
  • Joanna Kerns as Marilyn Baker
  • Alex Nicol as Colonel Davis
  • Nak-hun Lee as Captain Kim
  • Yeon-jeong Woo as Mrs. Kim
  • Jerry Harke as Lt. Smith
  • Larry Chandler as First Mate
  • Walt Myers as Seaman
  • J.J. Gould as Soldier in Jeep
  • Charles Johnson as American Tourist
  • Paul Leder as Dino
  • Choi Sung Kwan as Film Producer
  • Bob Kurcz as American Actor
  • Jules Levey as Reporter


The movie was a quickie production meant to capitalize on the upcoming release of Dino DeLaurentis' King Kong. Several plot elements, such as a giant gorilla's relationship with an American actress, are essentially lifted from the King Kong story. In fact when the film was going into production in February 1976, it was announced as The New King Kong as it was advertised by a teaser poster in Boxoffice magazine.[4] When RKO got wind of this, they filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the company.[5] Because of the lawsuit the title was changed originally to Super Ape in June 1976,[6] then to A*P*E in October 1976, and the tagline "Not to be confused with King Kong" was added to the theatrical posters and movie trailer. However the company was able to get away with using King Kong's name not only in its native South Korea but also in some international markets where it was known as Super King Kong[7] and King Kong Returns[8] respectively.

The film's special effect budget for the miniature buildings was only $1,200. The entire budget for A*P*E was $23,000. The film was shot in just 14 days.[1]

The film's title A*P*E stood for (Attacking Primate MonstEr), with the deliberate intention to spoof the acronym title of M*A*S*H, a popular 1970 film and subsequent TV series of the same name that was based in Korea where this film was produced.

The movie pitted the titular giant ape against a huge great white shark, meant to take a shot at Jaws, a movie made a year earlier about a giant shark. A famous cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland even addressed this scene.[9]

The film hit North American screens in October 1976, merely two months before the release of King Kong.


U.S theatrical poster for A*P*E. The poster has a few instances of false advertising. One example is that the Ape never battles the shark and python at the same time

A*P*E has been widely panned by critics, even appearing on the cover of The Official Razzie Movie Guide. Much of the commentary on A*P*E focuses on the film's low-quality special effects. For example, John Wilson claims that the ape suit used in the film "looks more like your grandmother's lamb's wool coat collar than an actual simian." He also remarks that "a five-year old could spot the [model buildings and vehicles] as phony."[10] Other critics have noted that the size of the ape appears to change throughout the film, and that the ape actor's T-shirt is visible through holes in his costume.[11]

The film suffers from other problems besides poor special effects, however. The Korean extras, who are supposed to be fleeing in terror, can sometimes be seen with smiles on their faces, and the film's dialogue is occasionally chopped off by poor editing. Wilson even describes the film's music as "one of the worst movie soundtracks of all time."[10]

In a scathing review, monster movie critic Mike Bogue states that "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." Citing such things as the ape vomiting and the ape dancing to the film score, Bogue states that "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."[12]

In reviewing A*P*E, along with other King Kong parodies, Roy Morton states that the film "is extremely cheesy" and that while it "begins with a reasonably serious tone," it "quickly degenerates into a dreadfully campy spoof." He speculates that on realizing the low quality of their production, the producers deliberately tried to make an already bad film worse in the hope that moviegoers would laugh with them, instead of at them. To that end, Morton states that while cinematically inferior to The Mighty Peking Man, A*P*E does have an "it's so bad it's good" cult film appeal the aforementioned film lacks. Nevertheless, he closes his review stating that a scene where the titular ape turns around after a victory to give the audience "the finger" sums up the entire film.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Podcast on Fire Network Bonus Episode 7: A*P*E". 
  2. ^ "Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla promotional poster". Retrieved 2014-09-27. 
  3. ^ "킹콩의 대역습 - Ape (1976)". www.mydvdlist.co.kr. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ "The New King Kong". 
  5. ^ Stephen Jones. The Essential Monster Movie Guide Titan Publishing Group. 2000. Pg.36
  6. ^ "3D Film Archive". 
  7. ^ "Super King Kong (Turkish Poster)". 
  8. ^ "King Kong Returns (French Poster)". 
  9. ^ "Famous Monsters of Filmland #146". 
  10. ^ a b Wilson, John. The Official Razzie Movie Guide. New York: Warner, 2005. 7-9
  11. ^ A*P*E at AtomicMonsters.com. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  12. ^ A*P*E at Americankaiju.com. Retrieved 18 June 2009
  13. ^ Ray Morton. King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon. Applause Theater and Cinema Books: New York, 2005. pg 300

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