Saturday, 3 September 2011

Video Nasty #33 - Night of the Bloody Apes

You might feel a little short changed by the title of this film, considering it contains only one single ape, and throughout the film he’s referred to as a gorilla. No matter, Night of the Bloody Apes is notable for being the jumping off point for many Exploitation fans into the wild world of Mexican Fantastique. Directed by Réne Cardona in 1968, the film is actually an update on the director's earlier 1963 film Doctor of Doom, with an added injection of nudity and violence. The film might not have a legion of apes at it's disposal, but at least it's bloody...

A father's desperation to save his son from a terminal blood disease forces him to take drastic measures. The father, a head surgeon transplants his son's ailing heart with that of a gorilla. The operation at first seems a success but the road to recovery is littered with mutilation, murder and rape as the son transforms into a half-man half beast... Night of the Bloody Apes is essentially an old-fashioned Universal Horror film, a mix of mad science and monster mayhem updated with gore and nudity for the Blood Feast generation. That said, the film is uniquely Mexican with the inclusion of a superfluous subplot involving a masked Mexican female wrestler and her battles in the ring. Sadly, Cardona fumbles this element of film, and the expected finale, a gorilla vs wrestler smack down never materializes.

René Cardona, a giant in the annals of Mexican Exploitation Cinema brings an assured professionalism to the film despite the silliness of the story. The nudity is rather chaste compared to American B-movies of this era but the gore is plentiful and gleefully executed - throats are ripped, eyeballs gouged, one man is scalped while another is decapitated. The effects don't stand up to much scrutiny but Cardona imports some real-life eye-watering surgery footage during the transplant sequence guaranteed to sober up any gorehound. This footage is relatively brief but considering the amount of abrupt edits heard on the soundtrack during this sequence, the surgery footage might have been originally more expansive but underwent some last minute fine-tuning. Interestingly the sequence where the beast attacks a woman in her apartment features some explicit shots of the violated woman's bloodstained body which look like they might have been filmed some time after the original production wrapped, the inserts given away by the change in lighting and the fact that the beast's face is obscured.

Something Weird’s 2002 DVD of Night of the Bloody Apes is a real treat, the fullframe transfer looks gorgeous with strong colors, excellent detail and minimal print damage. Audio is equally robust with the film's score sound particularly punchy. Extras on the disc include some outtakes from the film, mostly botched effects and there’s the usual promo material like trailers and TV spots. This being a Something Weird disc, the DVD is kitted out with a number of odd short subjects relating to gorillas and wrestling. Also included on the disc is a second feature film, a tedious 1967 Argentine b/w horror called Feast of Flesh, directed by Emilio Vieyra of The Curious Case of Dr. Humpp fame.


  1. I saw this one on VHS way back when. It was pretty gory, so I'm assuming uncut. I don't think I knew there was real surgical footage at the time. I also saw Doctor of Doom somewhere - what a double feature that would make!

  2. I'm thinking hard about this now and I'm sure this is the only homegrown Mexican film I've ever seen - many of Jodorowsky's films are Mexican co-financed but are hardly representative of the national Cinema... I seem to remember a science program on TV here in the 90's called Beyond 2000 and that featured a lot of horrendous unwatchable surgery footage - and hardcore stuff to like eye surgery - once glimpsed and never forgotten !