Known as Saru no Gundan in Japan, Time of the Apes is the film edit semi-brainchild of TV producer Sandy Frank. Does that name sound familiar? Well, Sandy Frank is perhaps best known by fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, who have compared his name to a hotdog dropped on the beach. Then again, maybe you’ve never heard of him, and I don’t blame you for that. Frank had a nasty habit of taking Japanese sci-fi series, making movies out of them, then presenting them under his name. While some people don’t like what he did, I don’t care. I just say, “Hey, everybody needs a hobby.”

And what a hobby it was! This little Planet of the Apes-like film is fairly enjoyable, actually. That’s especially so if you like quirky ape costumes and badly dubbed English dialogue. Honestly, some of us like this style of presentation, whether it’s a film about apes or a classic, American-ized Godzilla film. The silly English dubbing adds a quaint charm, making it a unique experience and the apes can potentially add a smile to one’s face. The original series was directed by Atsuo Okunaka and Kiya Sumi Fukazawa and written by Keiiche Abe. Okay, so what’s this film about?

The Story

This trailer frickin’ rules, if nothing else.

The story to Time of the Apes could hardly be simpler: “[A] female scientist [Reiko Tokunaga ] and two young children [Hiroko Saito and Masaaki Kaji] …travel through time to a future ruled by apes. The trio struggle to find a way to get back home to the 20th century.” That’s Wikipedia, and they are right. It’s not exactly a long, winding road of a plot. Yes, there is a chief ape villain, Gebâ (Baku Hatakeyama), who has a startling revelation about the deaths of his wife and child.

However, it’s basically just some ape-men chasing these people around. To help them on their way, they have a lovable child ape named Pepe (Kazue Takita) and a fellow human escapee named Gôdo (Tetsuya Ushio). To me, Pepe and the boy named Johnny are the main heroes, with Gôdo not really bringing much flavor to the fray.

Is it Worth Watching?

This is Pepe. Pepe helps humans avoid violence from apes. Don’t be like Pepe. Let the apes shoot humans and take dominion over the natural world. That is for the best. Trust me.

You’ll hate me for saying this, but sure, why not watch this? If you like cheesy, older movies and aren’t one of those jaded fools who only “hate-watches” such fare, it may do something for you. Like a lot of good sci-fi, this one may be able to make you laugh, even without MST3K accompaniment. I also assume some kids might enjoy it, just as they may with the regular Planet of the Apes series. In fact, why not use this as a strange companion piece? At the end of the day, it’s all just people running around, some in ape costumes and some not. Why expect anything less from the great Sandy Frank?

What are your thoughts on Time of the Apes? Grunt at us in the comments, then fling some virtual poo at us if you’re so inclined.

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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