Something Weird Video gives us another bizarre double feature chock full of comically bad acting, ridiculous plotlines, and plenty of scantily clad women. Those of you not intrigued by such things can stop reading now. If, like me, you think that's a time-proven formula for potential fun then this DVD is worth at least a look.
The main event (pun intended), Night of the Bloody Apes, is a Mexican horror film that mixes plenty of the red stuff with the gratuitous wrestling matches that defined the genre. It's the bizarre story of Doctor Krallman (Jose Elias Moreno), the head surgeon at General Hospital. His son Julio (Agustin Martinez Solares) has been inflicted with Leukemia, a disease that's slowly killing him. In a desperate measure, the doctor decides the only way to save him is to transplant the heart of a gorilla into his body. The theory holds that the blood of a powerful animal may be strong enough to kill the Leukemia. How's that for practical science? Just be glad Dr. Krallman isn't your family physician.
With the help of his scar-faced, limp-legged crony, Goyo (Carlos Lopez Moctezuma), the doctor prepares for surgery. When I say surgery, I mean it. Forget about special effects, this film goes straight for the real thing. Cue the open heart documentary footage. Painfully, no detail is spared as the surgeon cuts and slices until he's holding a severed, but still beating heart in his bloody hand.
Apparently, the surgery is successful. That is as long as you consider replacing a perfectly healthy human heart with that of a man in a bad gorilla suit a success. Julio is saved! Ok, maybe not. After a quick wrestling match, just for good measure, we learn that the plan has undeniably backfired. Through perhaps the most technically inept transformation sequence ever, little Julio becomes a comical half man, half gorilla - monster boy. Actually, if you want to be specific, that would be 9/10 man and 1/10 gorilla as the terrible head makeup is the only indication of his new primate alter ego.
So begins one of the more ludicrous killing sprees you'll ever witness on film. Julio roams the streets, often in his pajamas, killing whoever he can get his hands on. If that person happens to be female, well Julio does what any vicious monster would do, rip her shirt off before commencing with the slaughter.
One of over 140 films from director Rene Cardona, Night of the Bloody Apes is filled with comical dubbing, cheap lifeless sets, and one strangely unfocused script written with the aid of his son Rene Cardona Jr. Instead of the usual one-line zingers that b-movie fans love, here we have characters that often ramble on and on repeating the same statements in different words. In this movie, saying anything seems to take a while, which leads to many peculiarly humorous conversations.
The general pacing of the movie is slow throughout. We spend far too much time following the exploits of a wrestler named Lucy, and her detective boyfriend who's assigned to hunt down Julio. Sure, the wrestling is fun, but Lucy really doesn't play enough of a role in the story to warrant the time invested. We're given no reason to care about her, or her relationship with the detective, so these segments quickly become tiresome.
On the other hand, Jose Elias Moreno's portrayal of Dr. Krallman is the source of many laughs. Many of those are a result of his outlandish facial expressions. Several close-ups during key "dramatic" moments display a great commitment to overacting his emotions. During surgery, while sweating like a pig, he unleashes the dreaded "What the hell am I doing?" face that you never want to see on a medical professional.
The astute viewer will notice several amusing inconsistencies. The first two times the doctor addresses his son, he clearly calls him "Hoo-lio." For the rest of the movie, he calls him "Joo-lio" instead. I guess the stress of raising an ape monster has really gotten to him. Several of the killings take place in and around a town park. These scenes appear to be filmed in two different locations, with amusing results. The first park is vivid with green grass and trees. The second location is a room with piles of green weeds thrown on the ground. Whenever the actors move in this alternate set, the weeds also move, revealing the concrete floor beneath. I guess there was no room in the budget for adhesive.
In the end, Night of the Bloody Apes is good tasteless fun despite the slow points. It's probably the only movie you'll ever see that combines superfluous nudity, female wrestling matches, an ape-boy pajama-wearing monster, and footage of real open-heart surgery. For these points alone, it's worth viewing.
"She spends hours listening to music, that's strange."
Our second film, Feast of Flesh, is a bizarre murder mystery from Argentinean director Emilio Vierya, the man who would later bring us the hilarious sci-fi sex romp The Curious Dr. Humpp. While Humpp is a rather inspired piece of exploitation film making, Feast of Flesh is definitely a beast of a lesser breed.
The movie begins with a young girl name Laura 'Beba' Vellagas (the attractive Gloria Prat), and one of her many lovers kissing on a beach at night. Unexpectedly, a Porsche drives up onto the nearby sand. The driver gets out, dumps his passenger in clear sight, and drives off into the night. Upon investigation we see the body of a woman, killed with a syringe through the heart.
We follow the mystery car to a home, where the slow-moving driver gets out. A close-up reveals that he's wearing a rubber monster mask and gloves, with an Elvis wig which spors some huge sideburns. Upon entering the home, and stopping to lock lips with the naked woman passed out on his couch, the driver sits down to play his organ. As he plays, the girl, seemingly in a trance, gets dressed and slowly walks outside and away from the house. Funny, that's the same thing that happens when I try to play an instrument.
So far, we've learned a few things. Judging by the choice of apparel our killer is one strange cat. A survey of the good looking girl on his couch, combined with the fact that she's eager to kiss his ugly mug, tells us that he certainly has a way with the ladies. We also know that he can bust out a mean tune on his organ. Last, and perhaps most important, we know he's not very smart. Smart killers hide bodies; they don't just leave them in the middle of a public beach for everyone to find.
As the movie moves along, we meet more and more girls who appear to be out in left field. Many of the girls often listen to weird music, records from an unknown label, and they're all attracted when the masked man plays his organ. If you haven't guessed by now, we soon find out that the rubber-masked fiend is able to lure girls to his pad by playing "strange" music on his organ. Once they arrive, he gives them a big dose of heroin, and then uses the opportunity to get them naked.
Since this is a mystery, the real point of the film is to figure out who's responsible for the slowly increasing body count, all dead by syringe to the heart. We slowly build our list of suspects. Is it the stereotypical gay guy, who wears a sweater around his neck in the summer? Could it be Elsa, the lesbian who feels Laura's breast during a volleyball game? How about Laura herself, or is she too busy swinging with everyone in town? How about Silvio, the piano player at the local club who is said to have provided one of the records? Could it be Doctor Bermudez, Officer Winston, or even the smooth Inspector Lauria? Do we really care?
The sad truth is no, we probably don't. Overall this is a rather ridiculous mystery movie that manages to be somewhat entertaining due to its complete ineptitude. Since we never really care for any of the characters, we don't really care who's going around killing them. The English dubbed dialogue, written by Jack Curtis, is often hilarious and at times indecipherable, mirroring the already fractured logic of the story. In fact, the killer is such a goof that it's amazing he could actually hurt anyone.
Feast of Flesh is good viewing for those who liked The Curious Dr, Humpp and are eager to see what else Emilio Vierya worked on; others could just as easily skip it. Once you've watched it, if you can bring yourself to view it again, you may realize the killer is a bit more twisted than you first thought. If you decide to go for it, watch for Laura's surreal volleyball game. I guess in Argentina, instead of hitting the ball, the players are happy just to catch it and throw it back over the net.
The DVD itself is the usual high quality Something Weird presentation featuring humorous and imaginative menus that really showcase the attitude of the feature presentation. The picture quality of Night of the Bloody Apes is very good; full of sharp, vibrant colors. Feast of Flesh is shown in its original theatrical screen ratio, and the B&W picture is generally crisp and clean. There are some vertical distortion lines, but it's nothing too serious. Included are over an hour of outtakes, trailers, and several primate-laden short features, including the entertaining "White Gorilla." The disc also includes a couple Easter Eggs, including a trailer for The Curious Dr. Humpp.