DIRECTOR: SIMEON MANDRILL. RUNNING TIME: 83 mins. DVD: REDWING. PRICE £7.99 CERT 15
A 1960’s cult favourite involving a stash of weed, hippies, a VW beetle, and a gorilla that periodically turns invisible. No, really, it does exist and truly needs to be seen to be believed. ‘Disney on acid’ is one view you could take as the two laid back heroes, played by Zane Govan and Nick Adams, in full Hippy look, smoke weed, play guitar, and show a mistrust of authority that would have old uncle Walt spinning in his grave. The plot, such as it is, involves our heroes falling in with some anti-vivisectionists, joining their plan to break into some government labs secretly growing top dope for the army. In the chaos of the raid they run off with a large quantity of weed and, unwittingly, an invisible gorilla that leads to many laughs, until they discover what is going on.
The high-point of the film has to be the long chase around San Francisco, as they try to smoke the stash while pursued by the police and the FBI. The invisible gorilla is a trump card in evading the fuzz as the chase ends in a zoo. In one odd scene, an unfortunate Fed gets trapped in the monkey house with a randy male gorilla that sexually molests him! Despite the charm that only truly bad films such as this exhibit, it remains a sad career low point for Nick Adams, here playing second fiddle to a man in an ape suit. A decided step-down even from his previous film, the Godzilla flick Invasion of the Astro Monster, where he’d played second fiddle to the man in the lizard suit.
The film’s script was reputedly turned down by Roger Corman in 1967, with the words, “Get this crap out of my office!”. However, the growing popularity of monkey movies such as Planet of the Apes, and the success of the old Bonzo pictures on Saturday morning TV, meant that finance was available for this strange movie genre. For those fans of monkey movies, this will be a welcome release and one can only hope that others in this series will come out, including Apes on the Moon (1969), Ape Island (1970), Apes a Dancin‘(1972), Apes on a Plate (1973), Apes Impeacin’!(1974), and the King Kong cash-in, Apes a Growin‘ (1976). Sadly, the King Kong remake sounded a death knell for the monkey movie, and the end of the Ape series. That said, Apes a Go Go was almost remade with Eddie Murphy as a follow up to The Nutty Professor, as Ape’z in the Hood. Oh, and see if you can spot the zip in the gorilla suit whilst watching this classic!