NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (1969) Reviews of Mexican video nasty

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‘Half man, Half beast. All horror!’
Night of the Bloody Apes is the title of the 1972 English language version of the 1969 Mexican science fiction horror film La Horripilante bestia humana (“The Horrible Man-Beast”), also known as Gomar – The Human Gorilla.

The film was directed by René Cardona Sr. (Invasion of Death) and is a remake of his 1963 film Las Luchadoras contra el medico asesino (“The Wrestling Women vs. the Murderous Doctor”) aka Doctor of Doom.

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Plot:
A mad scientist transplants a gorilla’s heart into his dying son, saving his life but transforming him into a monstrous, ape-like creature who embarks on a spree of sexual assaults and murder before being brought to justice by the police inspector boyfriend of a luchadora (female wrestler).

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The English language dubbed version of the film includes additional scenes directed by Jerald Intrator. The new scenes add more explicit effects, including footage of open-heart surgery.

This version was banned in the United Kingdom as a video nasty, and is noted among bad movie aficionados for its awkwardly-phrased dialogue, a result of translating from Spanish word-for-word, without adjusting the phrasing and syntax to English norms: “I’ll say that’s absurd, the proofs are circumstantial, it’s more probable that of late more and more you’ve been watching on your television many of those pictures of terror,” for example.

Review:
Night of the Bloody Apes rapidly made its way onto the so-called video nasties list, its blend of ultra-realism and scientific plausibility apparently a threat to the ever-gullible British public who would, presumably, immediately start kidnapping gorillas and transplanting their hearts into family members if allowed to see it. Or maybe wrestling in devil-masked catsuits and talking wildly out-of-sync nonsense. Whatever the reason, the fact that we’re only now seeing the film uncut is more ridiculous than anything you’ll see in this gloriously mad, deliriously tasteless and hilariously ludicrous movie. It’s a must-see for trash cinema fans.

The UK VHS cover was an exercise in restraint, notably lacking in bloody apes and now stands as one of the oddest bits of promotional artwork associated with the film. Poor old Iver Film Services just couldn’t win – as the nasties hysteria took hold, they deliberately downplayed the lurid excesses of their newly acquired splatter movies (the cover for the Bigfoot gore-snore movie Night of the Demon is even more restrained than this, consisting of nothing but a night sky) but it seems the coppers already had their number and by now were scooping up anything and everything.

While only the most humourlessly paranoid moralist could seriously believe that a film about a man scientist creating an apeman who tangles with a masked female wrestler could deprave and corrupt anyone, the film had enough outrageous gore – including actual transplant footage (something that becomes less sensational when you remember that BBC surgical show Your Life in Their Hands was then being shown as part of the daytime schedule and featured much the same sort of imagery) – to ensure that it was a surefire addition to the list. As with many of the more obscure and eccentric releases that made the cut (The Werewolf and the Yeti, Forest of Fear, Axe) it’s uncertain that anyone had actually watched the film or that it had ever been convicted by a jury – many of these films became legally obscene thanks to guilty pleas by shop owners looking to avoid a trial. It’s hard to imagine a jury sitting through this with a straight face and then delivering a guilty verdict – but the 1980s was a weird decade.

Directed by Rene Cardona Sr – patriarch of the Rene Cardona filmmaking clan and the inventor of the Mexican horror wrestling film thanks to work with the legendary El Santo – this is a delirious mix of old-fashioned mad doctor horror, lively wrestling and – thanks to some post-production additions by American distributor Jerald Intrator – delirious moments of ultra splatter that were certainly ‘lively’ for the time. The combined result is a film so utterly deranged that it’s irresistible, a work of genuine outsider art – albeit one made by established film producers – that you have to see.

You’d think that by 1968, mad doctors would’ve got the message that messing about with gorilla transplants never ends well, but Dr Kraymann (Jose Elias Moreno) clearly didn’t get the memo and when his son is diagnosed with terminal ‘looseemia’, he does what any devoted father would do and breaks into the world’s least secure zoo, shoots a gorilla with a tranquilliser and gets his crippled assistant Goyo (you have to admire the mad scientist determination to equal opportunities employment as all their assistants seem to have one disability or another) to help him carry the beast back to his basement lab. There, he performs a heart transplant – this is where the real, gory transplant footage is spliced in – giving his son the gorilla’s organ. Why a gorilla heart rather than a human one, which must have been easier to obtain even by nefarious means? As with many aspects of the film, this will remain a mystery.

Predictably, the operation goes badly wrong, and his son is somehow transformed into a ferocious half-man, half-beast (and yes, all horror) who – of course – escapes the lab and breaks into a woman’s apartment to ravage her in a mix of coy fumbling and graphic blood ‘n’ boobs insert shots. Gorillas, it seems, possess an almost supernaturally high sex drive despite what naturalists might tell you. The doctor and Goyo recapture him, but foolishly leave him in a lab that has been secured with flimsy wooden boards over the window he had wrecked earlier, so it’s no surprise that he’s soon on the loose again, tearing the clothes off women and the body parts of men in a flurry of scenes that are splattery and frantic enough that you almost don’t notice the amateurishness of the effects. At one point, a throat tearing is shown by having a bloody hand rubbing someone’s neck, which certainly seems an economical way of avoiding costly prosthetics. David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“A goofy monster… lame, excessive gore… atrocious dubbing… 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.” Eccentric-Cinema

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“All visceral delights aside, the film is actually quite well-directed, with Cardona managing to whip up a fair amount of atmosphere, especially during the scenes where the monster creeps around the city searching for victims. More importantly, he manages to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, and although the film is free from tension or dramatic excitement, it never slips into the same kind of dullness which tends to plague such vintage genre pieces…” Beyond Hollywood

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mexploitation cinema mexican vampire wrestler ape-man films doyle green
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Related:

DOCTOR OF DOOM (1963) Reviews of Mexican ape monster and female wrestlers movie

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