Retro Film Report #17: Night of the Bloody Apes (1968)

I realize the title alone is a turn off to most of you readers. My wife asked me what I was watching on my phone the other night. When I told her it was a movie called Night of the Bloody Apes, she groaned and shook her head, as if to say, “You are a complete moron, and there is no hope for you.”

Let me start by saying that this movie delivered on all counts and I make no apologies. There was an interesting story, hot naked babes, and a bloody ape that took care of business with extreme prejudice. What more do you want?

The movie starts off on the right foot with a little Lucha Libre action. Norma Lazareno plays female wrestler Lucy Ossorio.

Although slight of frame, she evidently does not know her own strength, and throws her opponent out of the ring. We learn later that her opponent, Elena Gomez, has been rendered a human vegetable by this action.

Meanwhile, we have the dude that played Santa in that infamous Mexican Christmas film Santa Claus (the one with the freakish devil…. Look it up). He’s distraught over his boy, Julio, (who looks a lot like Sal Mineo) who’s at death’s door.

What’s the only logical thing to do when your kid is critically ill? You guessed it: replace his heart with a gorilla’s. So, Dr. Krallman and his creepy sidekick Goyo break into the zoo and steal a gorilla.

This is when things get interesting. The heart transplant footage is real, and it’s super graphic. So much so, that it was placed on the “video nasties” list in the 1980s. Nowadays, you’ll find much more gruesome operations on the Discovery Channel; however, back then I imagine it was pretty stomach churning.

Little known fact: When you replace a human heart with a gorilla heart, that human will become half-man/half-gorilla. Poor Julio is transformed into a monster – tall, muscular, and with the head of a grotesque primate! The makeup job is horrible, but for some reason it adds to the scariness of the creature.

We quickly learn that Gorilla-Julio has one thing and only one thing on his mind - and that is getting laid. Indeed, Gorilla-Julio is a freaking sex machine and will stop at nothing to get a hold of some trim. He’s like King Kong on ecstasy.

The scenes of Gorilla-Julio popping the heads off innocent bystanders and raping women were unexpectedly graphic. I was okay with the heart transplant footage, but these scenes seemed out of synch with the rest of the film…. and sure enough, the director added more explicit scenes when it was re-released a few years later. (Click on the links of this post for certain rated R stills.  Although not exactly explicit by today's standards, they're still probably NSFW.)

In one scene, Gorilla-Julio scales a building, pulls a chick out of the shower (played by Gina Morett in her first of 80+ films) and starts going to town on her, ultimately tearing her limb from limb. The scene is straight up shocking – not just because of its graphic nature, but because the rest of the movie (minus the surgery) could easily be rated G! It’s like watching an episode of Bewitched and suddenly Dr. Bombay starts murderously raping Samantha. It’s f***ing horrifying.

As I said, graphic scenes were supposedly spliced in a few years later by director, René Cardona; however, something doesn’t add up. There’s a brief nude scene by Norma Lazareno - clearly not a body double. Did the actress (who BTW still acts to this day, and is rather well known in Mexico) come back in 1972 and film the nude scene for it to be spliced in? It’s doubtful. I’d be interested to learn how this occurred, if anyone out there has some knowledge to share.

Anyway, back to the story: Dr. Krallman tranquilizes the bloodthirsty rapist ape-man and brings it back to the lab. This time, he’s not going to be stupid enough to use a gorilla heart on his poor Julio – he’s going to find a living human heart. So, he and Goyo steal Elena Gomez’ comatose body from the hospital (remember, she was tossed from the wrestling ring at the beginning of the film?). Cut to another gory surgical procedure and a butt naked Elena being operated upon (WTF? Did she come back to do nude scenes too? No comprende) .

Well, big surprise, it doesn’t work and Julio still turns into a homicidal perverted gorilla-man. But, this time, the police have a plan… a rather demented plan, in fact. Lt. Arturo Martinez is the boyfriend of the lady wrestler Lucy Ossorio. He tells her to meet him at a deserted park at night, thinking she’ll be perfect bait for the horny ape. Unfortunately, he fails to inform her that she is about to be manhandled by a human-gorilla hybrid, so she thinks her beau is just planning a romantic walk in the moonlight.

The climactic scene begins with Gorilla-Julio ripping the head off an innocent bystander (again), then attempting to have ape sex with Lucy. Fortunately, the bastard Martinez arrives in the nick of time and ultimately blows away the beast. The audience is then treated to a sappy farewell between Dr. Krallman and his boy, Julio, who returns to normal right before he dies.

Bottom line: It's a badly acted movie with bad effects and horrible dubbing.  However, it makes for a surprisingly entertaining watch.  It's no cerebral film to be sure;.but as far as old-school monster movies go, this one's solid gold.



  1. Good write up of a strange little film. This was actually a remake of one of René Cardona's earlier b/w films called Doctor of Doom.That one is more tamer and stars Lorena Velázquez and Elizabeth Campbell, who teamed up as the Lucadora heroines in a few of Cardonas wrestling films.

  2. Oh that one looks great. How can someone not see that beauty in just those stills? Keep fighting the good battle against the sadly uninformed and unimpressed.

  3. I think the grammatically correct term is "buck naked". 'Cuz, really, she's not only "butt" naked, but shoulders-naked, boobs-naked, knees-naked... so it must correctly be "buck". And that's "buck" like wild, horned and horny beast, not like Buck Owens (oh, dear, God... get that mental picture out of here, even if it is Hallowe'en). I'm surprised your Microsoft grammar and style checker missed that. You DO run the Microsoft grammar and style checker, don't you?

  4. What a great review, I'm sold and going to see it.
    Usually I go for all gore or all porn and nothing subtle when it comes to late night thrills.

  5. Not to be confused with the 1986 film, IN THE SHADOW OF KILIMANJARO.


  6. I am still unsure as to why the Doctor felt a heart transplant from a Gorilla would be a miracle cure for his son's Leukimia....that kind of carzy logic is what make movies like this so entertaining! What a hilarious movie! Thanks for sharing!