It just occurred to me that the new PLANET OF THE APES movie opens during SHARK WEEK.
A*P*E (which isn’t an actual acronym, maybe they were additionally trying to capitalize on M*A*S*H*-fever) was produced by Jack H. Harris (whose credits include some cult favorites including The Blob and Dark Star).
Harris managed to con FAMOUS MONSTER OF FILM-LAND into getting his movie on the cover of their magazine**, with this over-the-top illustration of his giant monkey pummeling a JAWS-like shark. (Remember in the mid-70’s JAWS was the ultimate blockbuster.) The film includes a brief sequence in which the APE encounters a great white shark (a one-two punch of ripping of KONG and JAWS, while suggesting that their film is superior to Spielberg’s.)
This epic battle between a 36-foot-tall monkey and a really big shark comes off more like a guy in a torn gorilla costume thrashing around an already-dead shark. At the end of the scene he actually splits apart the shark’s mouth, ruining it for good and ensuring that there won’t be anymore filming of this scene. (There’s a reason this film was made outside the U.S.)
Oh, did I mention this all takes places in the first 5 minutes of the movie.
And if that’s not exciting enough, instead of hot new-comer Jessica Lange, the blonde bombshell is played by young Joanna Kerns (the mom from GROWING PAINS.)
**side-note: the cover also mentions Christopher Lee talking about STAR WARS. I’d love to hear his thoughts, because you know he turned down the role of Grand Moff Tarken, and suggested his best friend (Peter Cushing.) And then 25 years later Lee got to play Count Dooku in the prequels.
Here’s the original trailer for A*P*E — which includes a short clip of the dead-shark. And notes it should not be confused with KING KONG
Get ready for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES with this video and Ape guide