A*P*E (1976) is probably the only motion picture in the history of the cinema on which more money was spent on its restoration than on making it in the first place. https://www.amazon.com/Ape-3-D-Aka-P-Blu-ray/dp/B01MSXQ9C4
That does not say a lot for the movie which in one sense is even worse than what we expect knowing that. In life however it is rare that any of us are given what we need. In the case of A*P*E what film maker Paul Leder (who appears in the film as a film director named Dino, an obvious reference to film maker Dino de Laurentis who, given everything he needed and more to create his re-make of KING KONG made an even bigger turkey) in the case of Paul Leder he was given so little that what we have on screen is nothing less than a miracle..
So let’s not fault the film makers for creating a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. They started with a sow’s ear. They ended with a sow’s ear.
Which is not to say this movie is not fun. It is.
The good thing is that what little money they did have ($2300 and a 14 day shooting schedule) was well spent. Particularly on the 3D which came from the legendary Dan Symmes who knew his 3D and how best to film it. That said the film is a 3D treat. The use of depth throughout is excellent. And the use of foreground space (called Z Space) equally so. A*P*E can be studied by people interested in making their own 3D motion pictures. It shows what can be done when a real intelligence is behind a camera.
There is a real value in films like A*P*E because they show what can be done on extraordinarily meager means (and it does not get more meager than the means behind this piece of cut glass).
Like many, including Chris Alexander and Hilary Bess who provide the commentary, I discovered A*P*E through the cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND which certainly made the film look way better than it actually is (as does the poster art).
The picture clocked in originally at under an hour Chris Alexander informs us. To get it up to its 87 minutes for feature release the movie had to be padded and, boy, is it padded.
Nonetheless it is fun which is a lot more than can be said of many movies. The quality of the 3D Restoration once again shows that THE 3D FILM ARCHIVE are the go to people for work of this kind.
There are still a number of really good 3D Movies out there that deserve the care Bob Furmanek and his crew devote to their projects. I am hoping one of those titles is Mickey Spillane’s “I, THE JURY.” That is a helluva book and a helluva movie in 2D. It deserves The 3D Archive Treatment (as does BWANA DEVIL, the film that started the 1950’s brief 3D boom).
For now we can be more than happy with what we have. As for the A*P*E suit used in the picture it is not up to Rick Baker (whose work gives the Di Laurentis KING KONG what little merit it has) but it certainly is better than the one used in KING KONG VS. GODZILLA even if the actor’s t-shirt does stick out here and there and it was falling apart towards the end of the shoot). Three cheers for investing in bringing A*P*E into the light. –Reg Hartt 03/01/2017.
Dan Symmes’ AMAZING 3D: https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-3-D-Hal-Morgan/dp/0316582832