The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Night of the Bloody Apes (dir by Rene Cardona)


Okay, so this is a very weird movie.

Before I tell you too much about it, I do need to provide a few caveats.  In 1969, Mexican director Rene Cardona released a film called La Horripilante bestia humana.  When that film was released in the United States in 1972, it was retitled Night of the Bloody Apes.  The film was also badly dubbed into English.  The version that I watched was Night of the Bloody Apes, the dubbed version.  This editing in this version was notably ragged.  I don’t know if that was the result of the American distributors cutting scenes or if the Mexican version was just as bad.  American distributors were notorious for roughly editing foreign-language films but then again, director Rene Cardona was notorious for not exactly being the world’s most competent filmmaker.

I guess what I’m saying is that, for all I know, La Horripilante bestia humana could have been the greatest monster movie ever made before it was transformed into Night of the Bloody Apes.  However, I kind of doubt it.

Night of the Bloody Apes opens, like so many of Rene Cardona’s films, with a wrestling match.  Lucy Osorio (Norma Lazareno) is a famous wrestler who, during a match, seriously injures her opponent.  This leads to Lucy having a crisis of conscience.  Her boyfriend, Lt. Martinez (Armando Silvestre) tells her not to worry about it.  Her opponent will be fine and everyone understands that injuries are just a part of wrestling.  But Lucy isn’t so sure.  Is the fame worth it if it means hurting other people?

WELL, IS IT!?

Don’t worry too much about Lucy, though.  Immediately after providing Lucy with a huge subplot, the film pretty much abandons her.  Once Lt. Martienz encourages her not to give up, Lucy only appears occasionally throughout film, usually while naked in her dressing room.  Whatever inner conflicts she was dealing with, she apparently resolved them while no one was looking.  (This is one reason why I suspect that the film was re-edited by its American distributor.)

The film moves on to another plot.  Dr. Krallman (José Elías Moreno) is desperately trying to save his son’s life.  His angelic and kind of annoying son, who never says an unkind word about anything, is dying of leukemia.  Dr. Krallman thinks that he can save him by removing his defective heart and replacing it with the strong, healthy heart of gorilla.

Sure, why not?

Working in secret with the help of his deformed assistant, Dr. Krallman performs the operation.  (Cardona splices in footage of actual open heart surgery.)  His son survives but at what cost?  As a result of having a gorilla’s heart, Dr. Krallman’s son transforms into a body builder wearing a caveman mask.  His son is no longer a sweet, angelic, and dying.  Now, he’s a monosyllabic brute who runs around the city at night, attacking and killing women.  Lt. Martinez is assigned to the case but that doesn’t mean much because Lt. Matinez is kind of an idiot.

So, yes, Night of the Bloody Apes is one strange movie.  Actually, it’s more of a random collection of scenes than a movie.  It’s a mix of totally gratuitous nudity, over-the-top gore, random wrestling footage, actual open heart surgery footage, and scenes of the man-ape running through the city.  The film never seems to be quite sure whether the monster is actually an ape or some sort of hybrid.  Sometimes, he runs like an ape.  Sometimes, he staggers like Lon Chaney, Jr. playing the Wolfman after having had a drink or two.  It’s a very odd film.

And it’s the oddness of it all that makes the film watchable.  Some things are so weird that you just have to watch them once and that’s a fairly accurate description of Night of the Bloody Apes.  You probably won’t watch it a second time though.  It may be weird enough to sit through once but it’s never as compulsively rewatchable as an Ed Wood film or something like The Horror of Party Beach.  Once is enough.

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