Night of the Bloody Apes
Mexico / 1968 ('72)
Directed by René Cardona
Starring
Jose Elias Moreno
Carlos Lopez Moctezuma
Norma Lazareno
Color / 84 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD
Double Feature Disc / R1 - NTSC
Something Weird Video
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
6
    8   10 = Highest Rating  
Something Weird serves up yet another cheese-encrusted double feature platter from its seemingly inexhaustible vault of schlock. The company's latest disc pairs two South of the Border exploitation shockers, Night of the Bloody Apes (Mexico) and Feast of Flesh, a.k.a. The Deadly Organ (Brazil). In all honesty I just couldn't make it through Feast, giving up after about 15 minutes of mind-numbing tedium. So I won't be reviewing the DVD's second feature here. Happily, Night of the Bloody Apes is a completely different experience a deliriously insane mishmash of exploitation themes, all in lurid color, incompetently stitched together and very badly dubbed. In the grand tradition of such venerable Mexican cheesefests as Brainiac and Samson vs. The Vampire Women, it delivers plenty of unintentional humor... only this time liberally sprinkled with jiggling naked flesh and laughably fake-looking gore effects. (Except for the real-life heart surgery footage, that is. Yuck!)
    If you're familiar only with the kiddie-friendly antics of El Santo, Night of the Bloody Apes may come as something of a shock.
    The story, such as it is, concerns the brilliant surgeon Dr. Krallman (Jose Elias Moreno) and the drastic measures he employs to keep his ailing son Julio alive. The handsome young man is dying of leukemia. There's nothing more the doctors can do, so Krallman takes matters into his own hands. With the help of his scar-faced, gimpy-legged servant Goyo (Carlos Moctezuma) who, Ygor-style, refers to Krallman as "Master" he tranquilizes a gorilla and spirits it away from the local zoo. (We're shown a real orangutan in the cage, but after Krallman shoots it with a tranq dart it's suddenly a guy in a cheap gorilla costume.) The prostrate ape is carried to Krallman's basement laboratory, where the gorilla's heart is removed and transplanted into Julio's chest. Supposedly the substitution of animal organs for a human's can cure leukemia go figure! Anyway, the operation seems to work... at first. But not long afterwards Julio magically pumps up into a muscular stuntman wearing some pretty bad ape makeup, escaping from the basement and going on an uncontrolled killing spree across the city. Any hapless person he encounters is immediately attacked and savagely killed, though the nubile female victims are conveniently stripped and roughly fondled in the process. (In one outrageous scene the monster enters a woman's apartment, surprising her as she's getting out of the shower. He throws her on the bed with the obvious intention of rape, but gets so frustrated in his fumbling that he just kills her instead. The murders, all copiously drenched in gallons of fake blood, include a stabbing, an eye gouging, a scalping, and decapitation they're simply too ridiculously fake to be taken seriously, and are actually rather funny. The scalping, for example, is achieved by ripping a bloody toupee from the pate of a screaming bald man.) But before the Law can close in on the rampaging Julio, Doc Krallman and trusty Goyo manage to recapture him and take him back to the lab. Obviously, a little corrective surgery is in order. This time Krallman will use a human heart donor, albeit an involuntary one.
    Have I neglected to mention the professional wrestling angle? How lax of me. In fact, the movie opens with a bout between masked lady wrestlers. Lucy (Norma Lazareno), who sports a cute and colorful 'Devil Girl' costume in the ring, accidentally injures her opponent during the match. Taken to hospital, the comatose luchadora is later abducted by Krallman to procure her still-healthy heart. He replaces Julio's gorilla heart with that of the wrestler; Goyo dutifully disposes of the cadaver in the lab's handy furnace. But the switcheroo doesn't work. Even after receiving the human heart Julio again changes into the murderous ape-man, slaughtering more people. A police task force, led by Lucy the Devil Girl's detective boyfriend (the other flimsy excuse to somehow get wrestling into the movie), mobilizes a dragnet of the city. Krallman, meanwhile, searches frantically for his wayward son. Will more innocents die on this Night of the Bloody Ape(s)?
    This flick's biggest claim to infamy is its inclusion of actual open-heart surgery footage, used during the operations on Julio. It's pretty graphic stuff (unless you're a big fan of those medical shows on The Discovery Channel), but the clumsy manner in which it's spliced into the movie had me laughing regardless. The rest of the gore and most of the nude scenes were also shot/edited in later, in an attempt to market the film for the adult grindhouse circuit. (These inserts were added four years afterwards, for a 1972 re-release.) The English dubbing is often hysterical some of the convoluted howlers on hand might've left K. Gordon Murray himself dumbstruck with awe. Everyone's lines sound exactly like they were recorded in a booth; there's no background 'hub-hub' at all in crowd scenes. I sure hope the dubbing is to blame for one eyebrow-raising scene: hospital administrators sit around blithely concocting bald-faced lies to explain the disappearance of the injured wrestler and thus avoid scandal. (That she awoke from her coma and wandered off while sleepwalking is the adopted conspiracy.)
    A goofy monster... lame, excessive gore... atrocious dubbing... gratuitous nudity... This, folks, is what enjoyably bad movies are all about. Alongside their U.S. counterparts, I believe the exploitation auteurs of Mexico can proudly lay claim to have produced the best 'So Bad They're Good' flicks in the world. Night of the Bloody Apes does not disappoint in this regard. ¡Viva queso fundido!

Man... Where to begin? This sucker is jam-packed to the gills with bonus features. Something Weird really tosses in the kitchen sink here, making the DVD a schlocklover's smorgasbord. As mentioned, it's a double feature disc, pairing Night of the Bloody Apes with Feast of Flesh, which actually played together as a double bill in the States. The latter film was just too much of a chore to sit through, so I consider it a 'bonus feature' unto itself. If someone can convince me it has enough merit to give it another try, I just might. But I don't think that's possible. Apes, by the way, is presented fullframe (1.33:1) and displays incredibly vivid colors. Print damage is minimal. It's actually pretty amazing how good the transfer looks. The dubbed English audio track is clean and distortion-free. As for the A/V specs for Feast of Flesh... who cares? (I really wish Apes had been paired with The Mighty Gorga instead.)
    On to the extras
! Lots of trailers are included, which to my mind is always a cool thing. You get the double feature promo for Night of the Bloody Apes/ Feast of Flesh, trailers for Face of the Screaming Werewolf (a booze-ravaged Lon Chaney Jr. embarrassing himself), The Flesh Eaters (which looks quite interesting!), Flesh Feast (a different movie from Feast Of Flesh), Invasion of the Flesh Hunters (the cut-up U.S. version of Cannibal Apocalypse), Tender Flesh (starring a young Meg Foster), and three more double bill combos, Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory/Corridors Of Blood, Carnival of Blood/Curse of The Headless Horseman and The Blood Spattered Bride/I Dismember Mama. (The Bride/Mama trailer has got to be the most inane "Man in the Street interview"-type promo faked, of course ever made.) There are also a pair of TV spots (each) for Night of the Bloody Apes and Feast of Flesh, the latter under its alternate Deadly Organ title.
    And there is still more!
    Three minutes of outtakes from Night of the Bloody Apes have been assembled into a quickie reel highlighting some of the flick's super-crappy gore effects. A selection of short subjects is offered: Artist's Paradise (very early nudie stuff from the 1920s, in terrible shape); Gorilla and the Maiden (an old burlesque bit); White Gorilla (two guys in bad ape suits fighting); and a filmed record of a 1940s women's championship wrestling match pitting Clara Mortensen against Mexican 'spitfire' Rita Martinez. Best of all is the Ghastly Gallery of Ghoulish Comic Cover Art, a montage of horror comic artwork from the '60s and '70s set to the retro-rock of The Dead Elvi. One of the tunes played is "John Agar Rules" the lyrics of which mention the title of every sci-fi pic cult fave Agar ever appeared in. (Note: Look for two "easter eggs" hidden on the Main Menu screen. One of 'em is the gonzo, nudity-filled trailer for The Curious Dr. Humpp.)
10/09/02
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