Monday, June 10, 2024

Ape, The original Idea for King Kong and Godzilla

Joanna Kerns, who you all remember from the TV show "Growing Pains." How many of you remember her when she went by the name Joanna DeVarona? Right...sounds like a porn star, thus for a family TV show the name had to be changed. Her first movie, made in 1976, is a goodie about a 36 foot ape that falls in love with her.  Of course, DeVarona's character has mixed feelings about the ape that abducts her as the 36 foot monster also has a great big...well, never mind that, for now. Today we look at a film from Korea, 1976's "Ape," directed by Paul Leder.

Sultry blonde actress Marilyn Baker (Kerns) arrives in Korea to star in the film "Rape in the Forbidden Zone," based on a Charles Dickens classic. In this film, Marilyn walks into rooms and is immediately raped by whichever horny man is in there already. Little does she know, just before her arrival in Korea, a 36 foot ape escapes from an American freighter and stomps onto the peninsula. The monster stomps over villages, villagers, and is headed right for Seoul. The U.S. military, headed by Colonel Davis (Alex Nicol) is incompetent...a pre-cursor to the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan. Now the ape stomps over to the movie set just in time to see Marilyn running from a rapist. The chivalrous beast grabs Marilyn and absconds with her. The actress is initially alarmed until she figures the thing has a great big...well, never mind that.

Oh, Tom (Rod Arrants) is a reporter who loves Marilyn. They spend a lot of time sucking face and drooling on one another. He runs into the countryside and rescues Marilyn. Now the big ape stomps into Seoul looking for Marilyn.  In a city of 10 million, there must be a few dozen homes and apartments to look through. The creature goes through all of them in his search for the beautiful actress who men seek to rape and drool over. Just like Fay Wray, Joanna Kerns is found, grabbed, and brought on the ride of her life.

As "Ape" defined the ethos of South Korea, Kim Il Sung's North Korea made "Petals of an Iron Lotus" in 1976.  Defining the ethos of North Korea, this film chronicled the development of intellectual siblings as they came into consciousness about their roles in a maturing post-World War 2 Asia.  The dichotomy is barely ever spoken about here in America. Will Marilyn Baker be able to finish "Rape in the Forbidden Zone"?  Will her fate with the big ape mirror her fate of her character in that movie? Is this film the reason Kim Il Sung refused to have anything to do with his southern neighbors? See "Ape," and fully understand the geopolitics behind North and South Korea relations.

{Note:  This review contains a fair amount of...embellishment} 

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