Night of the Bloody Apes (1969)

Night_of_the_Bloody_Apes_(1969)‘lt’s more probably that of late more and more you’re watching in your television many of the pictures of terror.’

A top research doctor tries to cure his son’s terminal leukaemia by giving him a gorilla’s heart and some ape blood. Although the procedure is initially successful, the boy starts growing hair in all the wrong places and begins a murderous rampage, targeting beautiful young women. A local detective takes the case whilst his girlfriend carries on being a championship wrestler in a completely different movie.

This crude and cheap piece of Mexican exploitation upset the U.K. censors during the infamous ‘Video Nasty’ scandal of the early 1980s and joined the list of some 72 films banned from high street rental stores. So what was it about the film that upset the powers that be and the moral guardians of our nation? Could it have been that film was a nasty cocktail of nudity and tomato ketchup presented in bright, gaudy Eastmancolor? Not really, when the staging is so inept that it’s more likely to inspire laughter than chills. Could it have been the 1940s ‘ape monster on the loose’ plot that could have influenced a generation of vulnerable teens to confuse fantasy and reality? Probably not, when the filmmakers don’t even attempt to hide the studio floor when grass carpeting is kicked aside in a scene supposedly taking place in a park. No. None of those things. Apparently, it was the video box. It wasn’t very nice. The fact that the pictures on the cover of the box rarely had much to do with the contents of the tape inside seems to have completely escaped the attention of these leading experts.

So what about the film? Director René Cardona gives us the tale of a dedicated doctor (and top research scientist?) who appears to be the ‘go to’ guy at the local hospital. Unfortunately, alarm bells start ringing when we find he has a secret basement lab and a crippled assistant who calls him ‘master’. They go out one night, bag a gorilla at the local zoo and give its heart to the doc’s son in a procedure to cure his terminal disease, based on no doubt sound scientific principles. This allows for some footage of a real heart transplant clumsily edited in to the scene; a fact somewhat exposed when we see shots of a third pair of hands holding an oxygen mask to the patient! Sonny boy is then afflicted by a series of dissolves and extra hairy makeup and becomes a killer ape man with an eye for the ladies, allowing for some pretty tasteless and misogynistic action.

Night_of_the_Bloody_Apes_(1969)

The studio floor makes its excellent cameo appearance.

So what has all the wrestling got to do with it? Why do we often cut to the cop’s girlfriend and her exploits in the ring dressed in a scarlet suit with devil horns when she has almost nothing to do with the rest of the film? And why do all her fights take place before exactly the same audience even though they are supposed to be on different nights (couldn’t they at least have asked the extras to swap seats or something?!) And how can such a small group of people make such an amazing crowd noise?

Well, I can’t answer those last two questions, but I can tell you why she appears in the first place. Y’see, this is actually a remake of the director’s earlier film ‘Doctor of Doom’ (1962) which introduced those wonderful Wrestling Women; Gloria Venus and the Golden Rubi. They got involved in the action – just try to stop ’em! – but our heroine here is completely peripheral to the main storyline. She doesn’t even get to meet the doc or his hairy son. But the plot was so good that it was remade yet again a few years later as a vehicle for iconic silver-masked hero Santo and his mate The Blue Demon as ‘Santo y Blue Demon Contra el Doctor Frankenstein’ (1974).

This is nothing more than a slightly unpleasant and poorly made chunk of exploitation knocked out quickly and with little due care and attention. There’s plenty of gore, but much of it is only vaguely convincing and often simply laughable. The story offers absolutely nothing new; just a warmed over collection of stale leftovers that are beginning to smell bad. Even for a bad movie lover, there’s little entertainment here.

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