Something Weird Video // 1972 // 153 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // December 20th, 2002
A sex crazed monkey man looking for love.
After hearing that his son's leukemia is incurable, the rational man of science Dr. Krallman determines that the best way to make his progeny's last few days on earth more comfortable is to perform several private open heart surgeries on him. Further verifying that Mexican medical schools are the best in all the third world, the ditzy Doc believes that a gorilla heart, being much stronger than a human heart, is the perfect organ donation fodder. An incredibly disgusting and graphic chest operation sequence later and we have a Night of the Bloody Apes as sonny boy runs around like a simian el Santo, monkey masked and pissed off at people for some wayward reason. After an evening of random carnage, the genetically (and sexually) confused ape boy transforms back into Jude Law, except not quite so effeminate. The police are baffled, Dr. Krallman is simultaneously pathetic and bathetic, and the audience is treated to several women's wrestling matches, which have only an indirect connection to the main storyline.
Meanwhile, a Keith Emerson soundalike in a Brian Eno mask and Buddy Rich wig lures women to their sexual swansong as he plays the middle eighth of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" on the deadly organ. All to foster his very own Feast of Flesh, whatever that is. Seems that most of the local Hispanic party gals cream their cacao whenever a cloaked cuckoo plays "Spanish Eyes" on the Wurlitzer. As soon as they somnambulate into his space age bachelor pad, it's out with the hypodermic and in with the love drugs as the Moog maniac shoots his paramours up with opium and proceeds to tickle their ivories. Using an Interpol provided Close N' Play and a .45 version of the outraged organist's one hit wonder, Inspector Clueless hopes to track down this fiendish fugue fiddler before he starts teaching the ladies how to play the skin flute.
You've really got to hand it to director Rene Cardona. It's not every filmmaker who would attempt to create suspense and milk raw terror out of such commonplace occurrences as climbing the stairs, crossing the room, or Mexican ladies wrestling. And yet Night of the Bloody Apes is filled to the frijoles with static scenes of people walking up and down flights of steps, moving from the foyer into the master bedroom, and woman on woman grappling. As a piece of South of the Border exploitation, it has it all: wanton nudity, actual graphic and gory surgery footage, fake monster mania, and Tijuana style makeup and costumes. Throw in the most melodramatic score this side of Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, and you've got a motion picture miscalculation of the highest order. Nothing makes sense in Apes. Characters respond without rhyme or reason, and exposition is almost non-existent. Even the title is deceptive. There are no monkeys, plural. We only get one poo flinger, and he's just a guy in a bad suit. When they turn the terminal son into an orangutan with an overbite, he comes off looking more like a boozy longshoreman than a claret craving chimpanzee. And the motivation for his multiple monkey murders is a little unclear. Was Julio angry because his mad doctor daddy turned him into Diddy Kong? Was his baboon heart rejecting him, both physically and as a friend? Does his gore filled death spree have something to do with the internal sex change Dad performs near the end of the film? Whatever it is, this mangy José Young on the run is a silly, far too serious for its spastic special effects exercise in deflated expectations. You think it will be MadMan Monkey Goes Gonzo. Instead, it's Lorenzo's Oil with lemurs.
At least Apes gives us a little of the red stuff to keep us awake. Feast of Flesh (originally entitled The Deadly Organ) has us believing that all a mask wearing masher has to do is imitate Diane Bish and the local ladies go plum loco. They say music has charms to soothe the savage breast, but no one mentioned it could also result in the random exposing of Guatemalan melons that occurs the minute someone strokes a Hammond. In Feast, as with his other loony cinematic experiment, The Curious Dr. Humpp, director Emilio Vieyra wants to connect sex and science in a weird way that legitimizes the human physical urge as a pure expression of brains over biology. But instead, he twists these temptations into a surrealistic pillow of implausibility. After all, what does a freakish fiend wearing a two peso muerto mask who makes like Rick Wakeman and lures susceptible beach bunnies into his seaside lair for a little tales from pornographic oceans have to do with science? (Unless, of course, it's mystery science...). Feast of Flesh is so disjointed, so completely devoid of connective elucidation or even linking verbs that the mystery becomes even more mystifying. It turns from a "who done it" to a "what's happening" so quickly you won't have time to comprehend vital information like names or plot points. No wonder the American distributors of Dr. Humpp added untold minutes of undressed draft dodgers doing the sinful skin samba to the otherwise saggy saga of a sex scientist. Feast could have used a few dozen trou dropping deadheads to turn its tedious anti-narrative into a standard sexcapade. Even the ending knows how stupid it is. It just identifies the killer, overdubs the motive, and then heads to the lobby for some Ju-Ju Beans.
In spite of all their cinematic faults, these films make yet another dementedly divine presentation from Something Weird Video. Apes is presented in full screen and has the majority of image issues. There are several scratches and defects in the print, and a couple of places where the matt shakes, as if misfeeding through the projector. As this is a DVD, mind you, those faults are obviously present in the transfer. Feast is offered in an anamorphic 1.66:1 aspect ration that provides a fine black and white image, even if director Vieyra does very little with the framing. But the monochrome is not as sharp as with other SWV product, looking more shades of gray than night and day. For extras, we stay in the human meets monkey medium as we are treated to strippers, nudists, and explorers greeting and fleeing all manner of man made gorilla. There's even a female wrestling match thrown in for indirect referential good measure. We are also treated to three whole minutes of Apes outtakes, which consist of leader trimmings, and various micro-seconded shots removed from the final cut. What a shame, since snippets of the ape man fingering his face putty would have added so much to the narrative drive of the movie. Finally, there are dozens of trailers for both double bills and standalone hackneyed horror hilarity. With the now-standard gallery of horror comic covers, complete with Dead Elvi musical accompaniment, it's the bonuses that make Night of the Bloody Apes / Feast of Flesh such a splendid package. Separately, each film will provide the audience with a severe case of cinematic Montezuma's revenge, but thanks to SWV and this disc, your escapade in El Excusado will be more like Carnival in Rio than a midnight Rio Grande border crossing. Olé!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic (Feast Of Flesh)
* Full Frame (Night of the Bloody Apes)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 153 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Trailers
* TV Spots
* Double Feature Trailers
* Archival Short Subjects
* Ghastly Gallery of Ghoulish Comic Cover Art with Horror Audio Rarities
* IMDb: Night of the Bloody Apes
* IMDb: Feast of Flesh