Revenge From Planet Ape isn’t very good, but not for the reasons you’re probably expecting. The title suggests that this 1971 Spanish film was made to capitalize on the gargantuan success of the Planet of the Apes series and that it’s just a lame rip-off cash-in good-for-nothin’ imitation of an American success. Nah, ripping off American films is the Italians‘ job. Revenge From Planet Ape is not the real title of this film — it was the third or fourth title, slapped on after the film had previously bombed two or three times under more accurate titles. Naturally, someone thought that tricking the American moviegoing public by making them think this Spanish zombie movie was a a Planet of the Apes was a fine plan indeed. And here we are.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Revenge From Planet Ape is bad film on its own merits, not because it’s a Planet of the Apes rip-off. The best part of the film though is the opening scene, a hastily tacked on opening narration set against a still image of ancient ruins that informs us that in the distant future, mankind will defeat the apes in the war over the planet, but the ghosts of the apes will travel back in time, rise again and seek vengeance. To say this is worst example of anyone attempting to tenuously connect their film to an existing franchise in the history of cinema is an understatement. It’s shitty. To be fair, it’s hilariously shitty, but shit is still a bunch of brown junk exiting your body through your anus. Even the funniest shit doesn’t demand your attention for more than two minutes. Three minutes tops and even then, that shit better be pretty fucking fascinating.
Oh, right. The movie. Once you remove that opening narration, the movie transforms into Tombs of the Blind Dead 4: Mark of the Devil. Here’s the actual plot from the movie, copied and pasted from IMDB because I forgot everything about the movie in the days since I’ve seen it as it is not particularly good:
“In medieval times, a group of renegade knights were executed for their black magic rituals. In 1970s Portugal, vacationing college kids fall prey to the knights’ zombified corpses, resurrected from the dead to feast on the blood of the living.”
Hell, this cut movie doesn’t even excise certain dialogue, so while the intro informs us of the evil ghost apes, the characters refer to their evil opponents as Templars, which makes sense since these human corpses dress like knights, ride horses, wield swords and do a variety of other activities that Templars are wont to do. Every night, the Templars rise from the dead, mount their steeds and cruise around the field next to their headquarters, hoping for some sexy turista to walk on by so they can wine her and dine her and let her borrow a comfy bed. Just kidding. So they can kill and eat her. The local train conductor knows what’s up, so he’s all like “I ain’t stoppin’ this train anywhere near that evil zombie monastery!” but he didn’t count on his son being a horny jerkwad who wants to do things like save injured women from their undead pursuers. What an asshole.
Outside of the whole “Let’s turn this thing into an Apes movie!” thing, this film is a mess. The rules of the monsters don’t make any sense and the characters are threadbare, coming and going at the whims of the plot. The one guy I liked was a creepy mortician’s assistant who liked to play practical jokes on people coming in to identify their dead loved ones, but he’s not a real character. He has two scenes and then he becomes dinner for a scantily clad lady zombie whose physical performance makes Vampira’s work in Plan 9 From Outer Space look like a Buster Keaton routine. His character development is that he owns a frog. The movie is also completely lacking a third act*, but unless there’s a missing musical number or a massive orgy scene, I don’t think I needed any more.
If you like zombie horses riding in slow motion so their riders won’t hit a tree because their skeleton mask is obscuring their vision, then this may very well be the motion picture event of the year for you!
*As in, the movie reaches the point where you expect things to come together for a big climax and it doesn’t. It just ends.
Derisive laughter. Lengthy patches of silence. Audible eye rolls at the “cat leaping out of the shadows” scare gag. I don’t think anyone in the theater wanted to go check out Tombs of the Blind Dead 1-3 after this screening. I sure wanted to go watch Planet of the Apes, though.