Sunday, August 8, 2010

Night of the Bloody Apes (1969)

I gotta tell ya, if there's one thing that I love better than punching myself repeatedly in the stomach until my navel hemorrhages, it has to be watching "B" grade movies! And that's especially the case if they involve hideous, murdering bloody apes! And today's Killer Shrew review fills the bill quite nicely as it is just brimming over with hideous, murdering bloody ape action! So grab yourself a banana and snuggle up for a rundown of yet another weird, wild and wacked movie!

"Night of the Bloody Apes" (aka "La horripilante bestia humana" which, I believe roughly translates to "Make Love to Me, Monkey-Man!") begins, after a series of blood-soaked opening credits, in a shocking and bold new scenario for Mexican cinema: A wrestling scene involving masked wrestlers! But not only are these masked wrestlers, these are female masked wrestlers! And despite our desire to get down to the business of watching some serious bloody-ape action, we are subjected to an extended scene of watching two women pummel the shit out of each other (SPOILER: There WILL be more wrestling scenes later in the film). The wrestling scene continues until one woman tosses her opponent out of the ring and seriously injures her. [Note: The connection between female masked wrestlers and bloody apes escapes me for the moment, but I think it has something to do with the director needing to find some sort of an excuse to include masked female wrestlers in his movie.] The story now shifts to a Dr. Krallman who we soon learn has a son dying of leukemia. Apparently, despite all that he and his fellow doctors have tried, there is nothing that can be done to save the lad (who, by the way, resembles an even more emaciated version of Jude Law). Since time is running short, Dr. Krallman decides to take matters on a serious new angle so, with the aid of his assistant (who obsequiously always refers to the doctor as "master" ala Igore ala Torgo), he visits the local zoo and locates the nearest gorilla (which, via the magic of stock footage, poor editing and general goofiness, transforms into an orangutan and then into a man in a cheap gorilla suit). In one of the most memorable (read: laughable) scenes in the film, he fires a tranquilizer dart into the gorilla which does the classic grabbing of his heart with both hands gesture (I shit you not) and then keels over backwards flat on its back. The doctor and his assistant get the zonked-out ape back to the doctor's home laboratory where we soon discover their intentions. Krallman, despite the fact that it is deadly to transfuse human blood of the wrong type to another person, is going to transfuse the gorilla's blood to his dying son. And what is more, to make this more effective, he is going to transplant the gorilla's heart to his son as well. So, giving modern science "the bird" he proceeds with the operation which amazingly seems to work! But before you can say, "Planet of the Apes is THE greatest movie of all time!" 17 times really fast, we find out that not all went as well as originally thought. In fact, we soon discover that not only will the transplanting of a gorilla's heart and blood into a human cause the patient to suddenly, and without adequate warning, transform into a pasty faced version of Michael York after freebasing too much Jagermeister, but will also cause him to gain body weight faster than DeNiro between movie roles. Yes, you guessed it... the transplanting of the gorilla's heart and blood turned the young lad who is dying of leukemia into a murderous, raping, blood thirsty ape-man who is dying of leukemia. Well, you can't win 'em all, I suppose. But in any case, the bloody ape escapes from the doctor's home and, of course, goes on a murderous, raping, blood thirsty rampage. When the doctor and his servant discover this tragedy, they realize that they need to undo what they have done and stop the bloody ape before he throws poop at anyone!

Here are a few points worth noting: (WARNING: Keep your SPOILERS off of me, you damn, dirty ape!!!)
  • The film's USA title is somewhat misleading, as it actually takes place over the course of several nights and, in fact, only involves a solitary bloody ape (actually an ape-MAN). The film should have, therefore, been titled: Nights of the Bloody Ape. Makes you wonder if there was ever a large outcry of people demanding their money back due to the lack of a plurality of bloody apes in this film.
  • Fans of MST3K (or of Mexico produced holiday fare) may recognize the actor who plays Dr. Krallman, Mexican cinema standard José Elías Moreno, who also played the title role in the jaw-droppingly surreal Santa vs. Lucifer epic, "Santa Claus" (a film which, by the way, has to be watched either with the aid of MST3K riffs or copious amounts of illegal narcotics to be fully appreciated).
  • Don't get your bananas in a bunch...there IS a link between the injured masked wrestler shown at the beginning of the film and the bloody ape, though the connection isn't made until about an hour into the film. I won't tell you what the relation is, but I will say it DOES NOT involve the bloody ape and the masked wrestler getting together and going off on love-fueled killing spree road-trip that ends with the two of them driving off over a cliff while being chased by the police. So you know that much, at least.
  • There is abundant amounts of gore in this film and it's not for the squeamish...particularly because much of the gore is REAL. That is, during the transplant scenes they used actual shots of heart surgery being performed...yeesh! This shrew's gotta admit that there were moments during those scenes that he wishes he hadn't been eating leftover lasagna at the time of the viewing (*pukes slightly in mouth*). However, on the other hand, there is also cheezy stage blood up the wazoo to complement the real blood and guts. And I mean cheezy enough to make a chunk of Velveeta look like a delicate slice of Brie de Melun. Some of the most memorable money-shots include a "scalping" performed by pulling the blood-soaked toupee off of a bald man (no joke) and an eye gouging which reveals the human eye to only be a half sphere type of thing backed by what appears to be a racquetball sized amount of grade-school paste (or some kind of hot breakfast cereal).
  • The skin factor is fairly decent, at least in comparison to other "bloody ape" movies, of which I'm aware of none, though many of the nude scenes involve the monster ripping the clothes off a screaming woman in pseudo "rape" fashion or killing a woman as she steps out of the shower. Funny how all the men conveniently die fully dressed. Is it just me or does it say something about the filmmaker's views towards the opposite sex that all of the woman in the movie die or are attacked in this manner? Hm... (*strokes beard*)
  • One of the more WTF moments of this film is a brief appearance of a "beat" cop who is clearly Mexican, but who sports an Irish accent. All one can say is, WTF?
  • The version of this film that I own is the one issued by the incomparable "Something Weird Video," purveyors of some of the finest in grade B and exploitation movies. The print and transfer is surprisingly good considering the age of the film, the grade of the film, and the typical quality that you get from SWV. As is typical with these DVDs, you get a second feature on the disc ("Feast of Flesh") as well as a number of trailers, shorts, and even some outtakes from the main movie. There's even an Easter Egg! For only $10 you could do a lot worse!
Despite it's definite "B" grade status, inane plot, hideous make up effects, and goofy wrestling scenes, "Night of the Bloody Apes" is quite an enjoyable film for its class. It's fairly well paced, has enough blood and boobs to keep your lower nature satisfied, and is just plain fun. And if you are looking for hideous ape monsters, masked female wrestlers, heart surgery footage, cheezy eye gouging, and blood soaked toupees being removed from bald heads, then this is a film for you!

Check out the trailer for "Night of the Bloody Apes" here! (Warning: Contains nudity and violence)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blood Freak (1972)

It’s time for me to now pay homage to what I truly believe to be the greatest “B” movie that I have ever considered myself privileged to witness. You’ve seen “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” “Eegah,” “Manos, the Hands of Fate,” perhaps even “Ishtar,” and you think that you can now die a happy, fulfilled individual because you believe that you have thoroughly plunged the depths of human incompetence and inadequacy. But you are sadly wrong. For there is one film that beats them all; one film that, in this shrew’s opinion, is the true holy grail of bad movies. One film that glowers at all the other “B” movies and shakes its wang at them, saying, “Bow down and prostrate yourselves before the supreme ineptitude that is ‘Blood Freak!’”

If you have never heard of this movie (let alone have never seen it), the back of the DVD package sums up nicely what it’s about: “The world’s only turkey-monster, anti-drug, pro-Jesus, gore film!” And that’s putting it lightly. Here’s the story in a nutshell. Herschell (played by Steve Hawkes, who has an accent as thick as Arnold’s but none of his charisma) is a lone biker who one day meets and befriends two sisters. One is Jesus-lovin’ Angel, who continuously tries to convert him to the ways of the Lord, while the other is bad-girl, Ann, who always tries to covert him to the ways of drugs, sex and generally having a good time. Herschell, of course, takes the path of least resistance and hooks up with Ann and her party loving friends and, as a result, soon becomes a drug addict. He also meets the girls’ father, a turkey farmer who offers him work doing odd jobs around the farm which drifter Herschell accepts. Upon arriving at his new job, he meets up with other employees at the turkey farm: two lab scientists who perform experiments to improve the quality of the turkey meat. They quickly convince Herschell to become a guinea pig for them and eat some chemically enhanced, highly experimental turkey meat to see if there are any side effects. But the combination of the drugs and tainted turkey meat eating are too much for Herschell’s system and he quickly mutates into a turkey headed monster which must kill and drink the blood of drug addicts to keep it satiated. And from there the movie gets even goofier.

What causes this film to suck on such a supreme level, and go beyond (and below) what the typical bad movie can only dream of becoming, is that it not only sucks in its execution, its terribly annoying music, its festering acting, its god-awful script-writing, and its horrendous make up effects (the turkey head is basically a papier-mâché mask), it also sucks at the very core of its story idea. Most bad films, if you look at them close enough, have at their core at least the germ of a good idea that, if polished and honed in the hands of a competent producer and director, might produce a semi-decent flick. ‘Blood Freak,’ however, doesn’t even have that going for it. Its story and premise are so appallingly ridiculous that no director, no matter how competent, could make anything good of it.

Here are a few moments worth noting (** Spoilers, shmoilers! Keep reading! **):

  • Peppering this atrocity are frequent interludes with the director, chain-smoking Brad Grinter, who sits in what looks to be a cheap trailer (complete with warped fake-wood paneling), wearing pseudo-silk pajamas and sucking down cigarettes like someone was going to snatch them from him at any moment. During these sections of the film, Brad gibbers on about the largely incomprehensible philosophy that is supposedly the “meaning” of this film.

  • The acting in this film is repulsive through and through, but the cream of the crop has to be the two lab-scientists that the turkey farmer employs. No amount of written description can properly convey how badly these two doorknobs act.

  • Probably the most jaw-dropping scene in the entire film is when the now drug-mutated, turkey-headed Herschell goes to his girlfriend, Ann, and she has a one-sided conversation with him (he can only gobble back in reply) in which she ponders how their relationship will continue and what their children will look like. What then ensues in an implied amorous encounter (with Ann saying “Oh, Hershell” and him simply gobbling).

  • One of the Blood Freak’s victims is a local drug dealer (played by a Clint Howard look-alike). The monster knocks the dealer out, places him on a buzz-saw table, and then proceeds to saw his leg off. The victim then proceeds to scream endlessly while the camera focuses on his bloody stump. By the way, the actor playing the victim is obviously an amputee and the filmmaker obviously just had the monster cut away the fake part of his leg.

  • The cherry on the top of this vomit sundae comes at the very end when the cigarettes finally get the best our beloved narrator/philosopher and he goes into a hilarious coughing fit. As the picture fades, he then smiles weakly to the camera as if to say, “What the fuck. We don’t have enough money to re-shoot that.”

Well, I think I’ll stop now, largely because I can’t think of any more synonyms for “inept,” “bad” or “horrid.” This film will take you down roads of such pure, rank cheese that, while in the midst of it, you feel that you could never stomach watching it again. But when it’s over, and you walk out into the sunshine of a new day, you suddenly feel yourself aching inside, yearning to see more of it. Such incompetence has rarely been seen on such a grand, almost epic scale. So do yourself a favor. Do not just rent this film from Netflix or Blockbuster or whatever. Run out and purchase it. And if your local bookstore or video store doesn’t currently carry it, pound on the checkout counter and say in a bold, yawping voice so that all may hear, “By the power of the gods and all that is holy, I demand ‘Blood Freak!’” (or, as an alternative, you can simply order it from By purchasing this DVD, you are casting your vote and telling your world that you are a lover of horrible, be-sodden films of only the utmost rankness and that nothing better will satisfy you.

Check out the trailer to this "turkey" here: