Sunday, May 30, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: Time of the Apes

Time of the Apes is a movie produced in 1987 in which producer Sandy Frank compiled episodes of a short-lived Japanese television series and dubbed over everybody's voices, so what you end up with is a bunch of scenes of lines being read even while nobody is talking. It looks as if Frank and his crew did the whole re dubbing process over two hours, did no editing to make it look like people are talking, and decided, what the hell, let's put this out on VHS or whatever the heck they used back then. To make things worse, the original footage looks quite dumb, and there are a lot of things the producers do to make things worse.The whole thing results in a movie that makes no sense and a bunch of characters you root against. However, it also ends up being very, very easy to both laugh at and mock, and it makes for a very funny episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. A few notes about this crapfest:

- The lead characters are Johnny, an annoying little kid who yells everything he says and wears Daisy Dukes throughout much of the movie, Caroline, Johnny's cousin who also talks at a loud volume, and Catherine, who is the kids' friend, or aunt, or something, they don't really explain. Anyway, Catherine works at a lab that specializes in freezing people like Ted Williams. Naturally, an earthquake happens, and Catherine and the rest of the kids hide in the freezers. Remarkably, a rock hit's the freeze button and the three are cryogenically frozen. When they thaw out, they're in a world that is populated by evolved apes, which is a lot like Planet of the Apes. I'm sure that's a coincedence.
- The apes capture the three and try to kill the group, but they escape because the apes take forever to start shooting at them. They escape with the aid of a white-faced monkey named Pepe into the Green Mountain area, which is populated by a lone man named Goto who is wanted by the apes. Coincidentally, Goto and Pepe are good friends, so Pepe warns the group of the apes attack, but the group is captured. The rest of movie is really just about the humans trying to escape from the apes and go back home, with a few subplots thrown in there and only a couple of them actually going anywhere.
- The apes in this movie dress rather peculiar. A couple of them wear spurs and cowboy boots, which the movie shows generously. Then there's the commander of the apes, who has seem to pattern his wardrobe after Col. Sanders. He even has a gray beard like the Colonel. He's also seen wearing a red smoking jacket. Not to mention the powder blue 1970 Buick he rides in. Clearly, the Commander's fashion sense needs to evolve some. I mean, take a look at the Commander and his crew here (picture from

- To make this movie seem more ridiculous, the apes' lips never move, even if they are saying something. What, they couldn't afford to make masks with moving lips at least. Not surprisingly, the apes are just humans in costumes and gorilla masks.
- Godo's main enemy is an ape named, wait for it, Gaybar. He's mad because he believes Goto killed his wife and son, but every time he has a chance to kill Goto, he waits a really long time before something eventually stops him. It gets ridiculous the fourth time Gaybar stalls in his quest for revenge.
- Because this movie is cut from a bunch of TV episodes into 97 minutes, you get a lot of stuff that makes no sense at all. For one, there's the Wild West shootout between Goto and Gaybar's apes that comes out of the blue. There's also a rebellion against the Commander that lasts about 15 seconds, and there's a subplot with a flying saucer that makes no sense at all. Oh, and apparently they cut a lot out because Catherine seemed to have a sudden change of heart about the apes, even though all we had seen up until that point is the apes trying to kill or imprison her and her companions.
- Johnny is up there with Kenny the turtle loving kid from Gamera as a candidate for the most annoying child to ever appear in a movie. He yells out every line (a mistake by the redubbing team, no doubt, but it makes him seem really annoying), he constantly complains about being hungry, he asks inappropriate and dumb questions and observations on a regular basis (i.e. asking Goto if he lives in his house, then asking if his parents are dead). Not to mention the really short shorts and his penchant of carrying tools at convenient times in the plot (i.e. he suddenly has a screwdriver when it's time to escape from the prison).
- One of the most annoying aspects of this movie, and by golly there are many, is the tendency to show extreme close ups of the characters repeatedly at rapid intervals whenever a big event happens. Yes, we know this is important, you don't need to keep cutting rapidly to everyone's facial reactions to emphasize that. It's almost enough to give you a headache. Also, the score of this film is, um, well let's just say they made some interesting choices in that department that may not have fit the scene.

What a mess this is. I'm sure the original was at least a little better than this, even if the apes' lips never moved. What Sandy Frank and his team created here was 96 minutes of tripe so confusing that it's a wonder anybody could make sense of this thing. There's even two different endings shown, and a bunch of unanswered questions and unexplained plot points remain. Then there's the voice dubbing, which is so poorly done and for some reason had everyone scream their lines in an ultra intense level, except for Johnny, who sounded as if he was at Chuck-E-Cheese's the whole time even while in prison or being chased like apes. If Mr. Frank did this in an attempt to make a good, entertaining movie, well he failed miserably. The MST3K episode was quite good, as mocking this movie was like shooting fish in a barrel. Overall, the movie gets a 0.9 out of 10, and the episode gets a 6.8204 out of 10.

Well, thanks for reading. If you have an idea for a review, than either leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

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