Night of the Bloody Apes

If H.G. Lewis had made a wrestling/killer monkey-man movie, it would have probably looked a lot like this! The funniest of the many sleaze epics generated over the years by Rene Cardona (the man behind such delicious anti-classics as Doctor of Doom and Santa Claus), this wacko gem starts off as an El Santo ripoff, and quickly veers into gory territory when innocent women are suddenly attacked by shirtless muscleman with an ape face — the result of a mad doctor who tries to reverse the effects of his son’s leukemia by giving him the heart of an ape (in graphic detail). While the film would already be compelling enough based on the sheer lunacy of its premise, Cardona spices up the proceedings with piles of cheesecake nudity, the aforementioned heart transplant (filmed during real-life open heart surgery), and killings that all contain gruesome close-ups of characters being dismembered, skinned, or otherwise abuse (all rendered in loving color.) On top of all this, the crazy dubbing just adds to the fun, as characters spout nonsensical observations right and left, turning the story into a maddening jumble. What’s not to love?
Dir. René Cardona, 1969, 35mm, 81 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive)

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