A*P*E (aka Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla; yes, really) is a South Korea/United States monster movie released in 1976 as part of a wave of giant ape movies trying to ride on the coattails of Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong remake. And like most of those movies, it's really quite something to behold.
The movie's plot is pretty simple. A 36-foot-tall gorilla being transported by an oil tanker from some faraway island breaks free and makes its way towards the nearest landmass (South Korea). The creature proceeds to march its way across the countryside, attacking people and destroying settlements that get in its way. And while the United States military forces posted in South Korea refuse to accept the locals' reports of a big gorilla, actress Marilyn Baker (played by Joanna Kerns) has come to the country to film her next big movie. Of course, having a giant ape and a beautiful blonde in the same movie has the results you expect, so naturally, the two plots collide and the combined armed forces of America and South Korea must rescue Marilyn from the clutches of the oversized primate before South Korea gets totally trashed.
Compare to Space Monster Wangmagwi (a far more serious Korean film with a kaiju gorilla, released nearly a decade earlier), The Mighty Peking Man (another low-budget 70s King Kong clone from Asia; in this case, Hong Kong), and Queen Kong (a British Gender Flipped parody of King Kong also released to cash on the 70s remake's success). Also see Yongary: Monster from the Deep, another South Korean ripoff of a classic giant monster movie (Godzilla in this case).
This movie contains examples of:
- Animals Not to Scale: At the beginning the giant ape (who is outright stated to be 36 feet tall) gets in a fight with a shark almost as big as he is. Barring the possibility of this being a Megalodon, the biggest great white shark ever confirmed in real life was about 19 feet long.
- Armies Are Useless: The American troops stationed in South Korea under Colonel Davis refuse to accept the veracity of the reports that there's a big gorilla running around the country almost the entire film, dismissing everything as just part of some big publicity stunt for a movie.
- Dull Surprise: The movie is full of flat acting, but the standout example arguably comes from a sailor's extremely monotone "Oh shit" when the gorilla escapes.
- Flipping the Bird: In the movie's most legendary scene, the giant gorilla gives the middle finger to a helicopter it's just destroyed.
- Fun with Acronyms: A*P*E officially stands for Attacking Primate MonstEr (even though that should technically be A*P*M). Also doubles as a Shout-Out to M*A*S*H
- In Medias Res: Unlike most King Kong copycats, the movie begins right off with the characters bringing the giant gorilla from its island to civilization. Most similar movies would use that as the last third of the story.
- Killer Gorilla: The eponymous A*P*E.
- King Kong Copy: The A*P*E is a gigantic, bipedal gorilla who is obviously trying to ride the coattails of King Kong (1976).
- Lucky Charms Title: The film's title is stylized with asterisks, reading as "A*P*E", as a Shout-Out to M*A*S*H as stated above.
- The Mockbuster: One of several made for King Kong (1976).
- Never Trust a Title: Its alternate titles include King Kong's Counterattack, Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla, and Hideous Mutant - all of which outright lie about the film's title character.
- Primate Versus Reptile: There's a brief scene of the gorilla tussling with a (live-played) snake that it then throws in the direction of the camera.
- Oh, Crap!: The Captain and the first Mate have this reaction when the Gorilla wakes up and has its Hand bursting out of the Cargo. Accompanied by the first mate saying:
- First Mate: Oh Shit
- Random Events Plot: A good chunk of the movie just consists of the giant ape wandering around the countryside and having various encounters with rural Koreans.
- Threatening Shark: The first thing the gorilla does when it escapes from the boat is battle an enormous great white shark.
- Your Size May Vary: Even though the gorilla is officially 36 feet tall, its size fluctuates with the needs of the movie.