A freighter is transporting a captured thirty-six foot tall gorilla to the United States to show off as a tourist attraction. Off the coast of South Korea, the creature wakes up and destroys the ship. It begins to head for shore when it is attacked by either a rubber shark or a dead baby shark. The gorilla kills the rubber/dead shark and continues on. When it reaches land it beats up a cardboard building and ends up setting it on fire.
American actress Marilyn Baker (Joanna Kerns) arrives in Seoul, Korea to do a movie. She is met at the airport by her love interest Tom Rose (Rod Arrants). Tom is also a reporter. He has come to Korea to try to get Marilyn to marry him.
Local authorities and the American military begin to get calls about a giant monster. At first they dismiss the reports. Some think it is all a publicity stunt by the movie makers. Finally, they decide that they need to look into it. The US military, led by Colonel Davis (Alex Nicol), and Captain Kim (Nak-hun Lee) from the South Korean Police begin to work together to track down the beast.
The Gorilla roams around the countryside fighting a giant python here, smashing a building there. Marilyn is on a shooting location for the movie. Tom stops by to see her before heading out to meet with Captain Kim. The gorilla shows up at the filming location and sees Marilyn. She is kidnapped by the ape and taken to the mountains. When Tom and Kim find out about the kidnapping they head out after the gorilla. While the army is trying to capture the beast Tom slips in and rescues Marilyn. The gorilla gives the government the finger. Tom and Marilyn head back to Seoul where Tom leaves her with Kim’s family for safekeeping.
Somehow the gorilla knows what direction Marilyn was taken and heads out after her. He follows her to Seoul and systematically starts destroying buildings until he finds her. Once again Marilyn is in the hand of the gorilla and the South Korean government has given orders to destroy the beast.
“A.P.E.” was released in 1976 and was directed by Paul Leder. The film is a Korean-American venture done in 3-D. The movie was produced by Kukje Movies and the Lee Ming Film Co. from South Korea and was distributed by Worldwide Entertainment in the US. Labeled as an action/adventure/fantasy it is also a total camp rip-off of “King Kong”. The movie was released the same time as the “King Kong” 1976 remake produced by Dino De Laurentiis. A fact that didn’t help either movie.
The film was re-titled “Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla” for the 1982 grindhouse re-release and “Hideous Mutant” in the home video release. There are other names attributed to the film as well. Originally, they had planned on calling the film “The New King Kong” but RKO found out and sued them for one and a half million dollars. Not to be stymied it was released in Korea and some foreign markets under the title “Super King Kong” and “King Kong Returns”. Well out of the American legal system’s jurisdiction.
Some unusual tidbits attributed to the movie are the film's title A*P*E stood for (Attacking Primate MonstEr) and as a spoof of the acronym M*A*S*H which is the title of the 1970’s movie and TV show of the same name. Both were based in Korea. The movie also pitted the ape against a great white shark. Supposedly this was a shot at “Jaws”, which was made a year earlier. Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine has a cover depicting the two adversaries in battle. No.146, August 1978. The movie also marks Joanna Kerns’ first film debut.
Well, King Kong it ain’t, no matter what they call it. It’s one of those borderline things were you’re not a hundred percent sure if the comedic aspects were intended or not, until you see the monster tossing Styrofoam rocks on guide strings at the camera. Then camp is the best thing you can say for it. It’s one of those movies you either hated or loved depending on your outlook. The one drawback I saw for it to be all out fun camp was the fact that it was kinda slow. Not much happens and it takes a long time to not happen. I’m not sure if it was worth the wait.