Time of the Apes (1987)

Time of the Apes

Directed by Kiyo Sumi Fukazawa, Atsuo Okunaka

Written by Sakyo Komatsu, Kouji Tonaka

Run Time: 97 min

“No!…I don’t wanna be killed by a monkey!”
– Johnny

Imagine yourself as a child at the zoo. The summer sun is high in the sky, the roars and cries of the animals fill the air, you’re eating ice cream: life is good. You tag along with your parents to the aquarium, the lion house, the reptile house, the sea lions, the elephants, and then, as you walk further, you notice a peculiar smell. The smell gets stronger, and turns into a stench. Your ice cream falls to the ground, storm clouds blot out the sun: life has taken a turn for the worse. Yes, you are approaching the monkey house. A concrete sweat-box filled with all manner of feces-flinging simians. Once you have smelled the stench of the monkey house, you will never forget it. I guarantee that the stink of this film will certainly bring back memories of that smell.

"Time of the Apes" was cobbled together from bits and pieces of a Japanese TV series that ran in the 1970’s. The series ran for 24 episodes and did not meet with much enthusiasm, not even from its "home crowd" in Japan. Enter Sandy Frank: buyer, producer, and importer of all manner of Japanese crap cinema. Sandy purchases the 24 episodes, gets rid of all but 4 or 5 of them, and splices bits and pieces from these remaining episodes into a film. Kind of like a Frankenstein monster pieced together from garage sale leftovers.

A funny bit of trivia about Sandy Frank and Mystery Science Theater 3000: All of Sandy Frank’s movies have been ripped to shreds by the gang on MST3K…in fact, they made so much fun of him that Sandy got really pissed off and would not give them the rights to rerun the shows featuring his films.

To say that the resulting, um, piece of work, is hard to follow, is an understatement. At best, "Time of the Apes" is a confusing jumble of scenes filled with "apes" attired in what looks like Confederation uniforms from the Civil War and bright orange one-piece jump suits. At other times, scenes crash into each other without rhyme or reason, like scattered boxcars in a train wreck, leaving you scratching your head and wondering what the hell is going on. The dubbing is awful, and everybody seems to speak in exposition only: "A trail! We will be safe if we follow it!" "An ape! He looks dangerous!" and so on.

The monkey "make up" brings to mind only one word: cheap. No. Scratch that. "Cheap" would have been spending too much money. The mouths on the apes don’t even move when they talk, their fingers look like sausages, and some of them wear tennis-shoes so they didn’t have to spend money on fake feet.

The story, and I use that term loosely, revolves around 2 children and their escort who is showing them around, ahem, Uncle Charlie’s cryogenics lab. A volcano erupts and they "accidentally" (!) fall into cryogenic containers (inexplicably referred to as "cold sleep" in the movie). They awaken 3000 years in the future to a world ruled by apes. Hmmm….does that story sound familiar? The trio run around being chased by the ape soldiers and Police Chief Gebar, which is pronounced "Gay-Bar" (!!!). They befriend a "savage" human named Godo (rhymes with Dodo, as in dodo bird) who helps them escape the evil monkeys, along with a giant UFO that appears from time to time to jam the monkey’s guns.

Sounds like a great movie, eh? Then lets get started!

The Cast:

Maasaki Kaji Johnny (Maasaki Kaji)

Johnny seems to always be hungry. Isn’t that cute? Great at getting into trouble and stuffing his face whenever food is presented. When his parents suggest that he stay home since there have been so many earthquakes he simply responds: "I don’t care!"

Hiroko Saito Caroline (Hiroko Saito)

Johnny’s sister. A voice that will make your testicles crawl back into your belly. Imagine somebody dragging their fingernails along a blackboard while you chew a ball of aluminum foil…you’re getting close…

Reiko Takunaga Catherine (Reiko Takunaga)

Johnny and Caroline’s escort, aunt, friend, I don’t know. It’s her brilliant idea to hide in the cryogenic capsules when the volcano erupts. Way to go, Catherine.

Tetsuya Ushio Godo (Tetsuya Ushio)

The mighty Godo. A savage human hiding in Green Mountain from the apes. Maker of useless booby traps (even Johnny manages to elude them), Godo likes to run around in turtle-neck sweaters and do battle with the hapless Gebar.

Kazue Takita Pepe (Kazue Takita)

My vote for the stupidest looking monkey make-up job of all time. Pepe befriends the humans and helps them battle Gebar and the apes. You will soon wish that somebody would have made a carpet out of her…

Baku Hatakeyama Police Chief Gebar (Baku Hatakeyama)

Pronounced "Gay-Bar". The bumbling Chief of Police of Ape Country. My God. I wish I was making all this up, but I’m not.

The great Commander The Commander

The great Commander likes to walk around in brass-buttoned Civil-War era coats. With an outfit that looks like Colonel Sanders dressing up as a pimp for Halloween, the Commander protects the humans and tries to integrate them into ape society. That the actor who played the Commander chose to remain uncredited comes as no surprise.

Our feature presentation begins with credits overlaid upon various still shots of monkeys, because this movie is about, well, you know, monkeys. Actually it’s about highly evolved, intelligent, speaking, bipedal apes, but we’ll settle for monkey pictures in the opening credits. It’s also odd to note that all the pictures show monkeys in a zoo. I wonder if this was meant to justify the ape’s cruelty towards humans in the future, since we ourselves have imprisoned them in the present. Probably not. I think it was just the easiest place the filmmakers could find to take lots of monkey pictures.

Time of the ApesAfter the exciting opening credits sequence, we see little Johnny eating his breakfast rice. His mom helpfully exposits that he will be spending the day at "Uncle Charlie’s lab" (!) where there are lots of "important experiments" taking place. (Plot point!) Johnny’s father also enters the kitchen and in terribly awkward dialog (typical for this film…it seems like everybody speaks in exposition only) says that "Uncle Charlie has made a lot of important discoveries." Hmmm…as opposed to unimportant discoveries?

Johnny’s sister Caroline rings the doorbell (!) and Johnny rushes to greet her. We find out that she is to accompany Johnny to "Uncle Charlie’s" lab. (Uncle Charlie? Oh brother!) As they are about to depart, an earthquake strikes. (You know the kind…the earthquake where they simply shake the camera back and forth and the actors attempt to put "worried" looks on their faces…).

After the devastating tremor is over (resulting in a broken flower pot), Johnny’s mom insists that it’s too dangerous to go to the lab. Johnny smiles and shouts "I don’t care!", then he and Caroline skip off to the lab, lunch boxes in hand, while mom and dad smile and wave good-bye from the house.

After a nauseating POV scene showing them driving up to the lab building (somebody simply sitting in the front seat of a car filming as they drive), their friend or something, Catherine, dressed in a full-length white lab coat (of course), greets them at the main entrance of the lab complex.

With another long POV scene, this time somebody filming while they are walking down a long hallway (really, it makes a person a little seasick), we hear Catherine gleefully expositing that the lab is currently researching "cold sleep" where they are freezing "various creatures" for extended periods of time. When Caroline asks if they survive the process, Catherine giggles "<hee hee>…oh yesssssss…they’re alive when we thaw them out." Mmmm. How sweet. And the phrase "thaw them out"…just doesn’t sound very ‘scientific’ to me.

More shots of monkeys in cages, including one that has just been "thawed out" after a sleep of over 20 years. (And imagine waking up in this movie!)

Time of the ApesThe two kids are then guided into the main control room. This room consists of two banks of, *ahem*, computers (made of cardboard and painted dark grey). The computers consist of, yes, flashing lights, dials, and other ridiculous instruments stuck through the cardboard. The controls are being manned by two technicians who are both wearing latex rubber gloves (?) and trying very hard to act "scientific": madly clicking and twisting at buttons and dials.

At that moment Dr. Lee (Is this Uncle Charlie? It’s never made clear) enters the control room and says hello. He walks over to an exterior window (!) and is joined by Catherine and the kids. Dr. Lee says that they got a warning from the "seismological institute" that there might be some "subterranean shifting" but nothing serious. The four of them stare out the window at an imaginary volcano or mountain or something. We of course don’t get to see it ourselves, instead we must trust the filmmakers that it is probably a pretty interesting sight given the "interested" looks on the actors’ faces.

I’m starting to get a little confused here. If this is an earthquake warning, as implied by the "seismological institute", then what the hell are they looking at through the window? Maybe that information was left out of the film when this mess was all spliced together. (We will in fact soon see that it is a volcano they are looking at! Now there’s a great place to build a lab!)


You’ll note a lot of weird things happening throughout this film. It gives me that odd feeling that I get when I can’t remember if I’ve dreamed something or it really happened.

Anyway, Dr. Lee takes the kids down to the labs to watch a real monkey get "thawed out". (Really, it’s like they have a freezer full of hot-dogs that they can just go and pull one out and thaw it whenever they want…)

In the lab, everybody dons lab coats and surgical face masks while a technician flips a switch. The thawing process begins as colored Christmas lights flicker and dials spin around. In the middle of the floor is some sort of "cold sleep" chamber with a frozen monkey inside. Through the magic of stop-motion photography we see the monkey thaw out. Sort of. When monkey is finally frost free, Uncle Charlie gives it a rather large injection of a brown fluid and the monkey awakens.

I must question the reason behind the surgical masks. They have them on during the entire thawing out process and then remove them once the monkey’s chamber is opened. What is the point? If there were, for some reason, dangerous fumes or microbes or something in the chamber, then why do they take them off when the chamber is opened but have them on when it is closed? Stupid movie. I hate monkeys.

As Johnny and Caroline play with the groggy monkey, Dr. Lee proudly states that they have even used "the process" on human beings; namely a wealthy man who stated in his will that he wanted his remains to be frozen. This exposition is played over a scene of a what is supposed to be the wealthy man’s body in his "cold sleep". Dr. Lee oddly states that "when he awakens, he will be even younger and healthier than before!" (Huh?!)

These awesome special effects were realized by covering a doll in that spray-on Christmas frost (the stuff you spray on your windows) and spinning the doll around in some dry-ice fog. I’m not kidding. These are some really cheap effects here (and why the hell would his frozen body be spinning?)

Time of the Apes

The miracle of "Cold Sleep"

In an odd scene change, and I mean a cut right in the middle of Dr. Lee saying a sentence, we see Catherine showing a "special lab" to Johnny and Caroline. Catherine explains that this lab is where they will be freezing humans (Hmmm…). In the middle of the lab (which has the exact same computer banks as the control room, hmmm, I wonder if it would be the exact same room as the other scene was filmed in…) there are 3 ridiculous silver, well, chambers I guess.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. Johnny goes and sits inside one of the chambers to see what it looks like from inside (!). At that very moment a volcano erupts (!!) and the chamber door swings shut, locking Johnny inside. Then in a truly inspired moment of total stupidity, Catherine and Caroline take shelter in the other 2 chambers! Oh no! A piece of the ceiling falls onto the control panel and hits a lever (!), the lever swings down and the chambers are activated (Ummm, didn’t they ever hear of safe-guards in this super-scientific lab? Also be sure to note the cardboard "computer" that actually starts to burn when the sparks hit it!).

The volcano continues to erupt, or is it an earthquake? I don’t know. Regardless, the ground heaves, windows break, trees are shattered, boulders are rolling, then the entire building tips over into a huge crevice (you have to see it to believe it).

The next scene then shows the three of them laying on beds in the completely undamaged lab. (I think we must have skipped a few episodes here. Who let them out of the chambers and put them on the beds? Why isn’t there any damage to the lab? What the hell is going on here?) They wake up and start exploring the seemingly empty building.

Time of the ApesAfter opening doors to empty rooms and wandering silent hallways, Johnny steps into a room full of <gasp!> monkeys! Twenty or so apes, all in lab coats, turn to face the intruders. (Imagine the smell in there!). The humans run away while sirens warble throughout the building alerting the security apes to the presence of intruders.

Needless to say, the humans are captured by the security forces and we cut to the next scene which shows them tied to a tree. The cameraman walks around the tree showing each of the 3 humans in turn, each crying out in confusion and fear (and making me seasick with this "tilt-o-whirl" filming technique). Well as you can imagine, the apes guarding the prisoners are somewhat curious and start, er, sniffing the prisoners’ hair.

Thankfully this absurd scene is interrupted by the arrival of none other than Police Chief Gebar. (As mentioned in the introduction, his name is pronounced "Gay-Bar", good grief!)

Time of the ApesGebar jumps out of his jeep to inspect the prisoners, with special attention given to his cowboy boots and spurs. (!!) Gebar further establishes his authority by pointing at the prisoners with his "laser whip", which is hilariously just a radio antenna with a handle attached to it!

Rather than killing them on the spot, Gebar orders the humans to be blindfolded, untied, and then taken to a new location. The prisoners are led to some sort of quarry where they are tied to a post for execution. (Why they couldn’t be executed while tied to a tree is not explained.) As the humans have their blindfolds removed they notice all the skeletons laying about in a "scary" fashion. I guess these skeletons mean that something "bad" is going to happen.

Gebar next orders that the prisoners are to be untied, after which Catherine and the kids are shoved into a "bad" area marked by a signpost with a skull-n-crossbones on it. (Odd how the picture of the skull is a human skull…wouldn’t it have been a monkey skull?)

Yes, the scene goes on and on…Gebar marches back and forth in front of his soldiers, staring at the prisoners…walking…staring…turning…walking…when suddenly Johnny shouts: "Let’s run!" and they run away! (What the….!? Have I missed something?)

So ok, Johnny, Catherine, and Caroline run away from the apes. This is pretty much the way this movie unfolds: Strange events just "happen". Maybe an episode was chopped out of at this point. Whatever.

The apes, now suddenly 30 feet behind them, wildly open fire and unsurprisingly don’t hit anything except rocks laying about 5 feet in front of them. As the bullets fly, the humans run through the quarry, take cover behind a jeep (?) and suddenly are running through a forest (!?). The apes are in hot pursuit shouting encouragement to each other with calls of "Get them!", "Over there!" and so on.

OK. Just a minute. How stupid are these apes anyway? The 3 prisoners where standing with their hands bound not even 10 feet in front of them. Gebar orders their hand to be untied (!), then the humans simply run off! The apes can’t hit them with rifles from a distance of 15 feet, and even lose them in the forest on a single-track trail!

Wouldn’t you know it, Johnny sees a bridge spanning a chasm! Wow! Who would have ever thought of that? Well, seeing that they had pretty much evaded the apes and head a huge lead on them (not sure how they managed that, but whatever), the humans decide not to simply run across the bridge, but rather to hang under it by their fingers and scurry across from beneath it. (Once again, I suspect that some footage was discarded at this point)

As the escapees make their way across the chasm from under the bridge, apes are patrolling back and forth on the top of it. (Where did they come from?!) Well, whatever, Gebar shows up with reinforcements and they run off into the forest to continue searching. Somehow Catherine and the kids reach the other side (OK, how long can a person, even a strong person, hang from their fingers? Let alone a kid!) and make their way through some fields, over roads, you know the deal.

Time of the ApesEventually they see a house in the distance. Thinking that they have finally found safe refuge, they run over to the house and peer through a window. Seeing nobody, they open a door and go inside (but first leaving their shoes outside the front door…gee…aren’t those Japanese just so darn polite!). As they make their way through the house, a monkey enters a side door carrying a bundle of straw. (?) The monkey sees the humans and runs away screaming "Naked apes! Naked apes!" At that moment enters what is the absolute worst "monkey" special effects I have ever seen. Enter Pepe, the friendly monkey. Pepe lives in the house along with her mother, but is curious about the humans and befriends them.

I must point out that Pepe is obviously just some kid in a monkey mask. I mean…the mouth doesn’t move when she talks, she’s wearing a kid’s T-shirt and even sneakers!

Well, this warm scene is broken up as the local farmers approach the house, waving pitchforks and other agricultural tools, intent upon killing the "naked apes". Catherine and the others grab their shoes from the front door and run off into the forest again with the monkeys in hot pursuit (one even has a bamboo wheel-barrow on his back!!) . Oh wait, it’s not the forest, it’s some sort of field. OK, my bad.

The humans are about to be captured when suddenly the apes halt their pursuit and begin pointing to stone totems standing at the forest’s edge. Yes, they have entered the "Green Mountain", a land taboo to the apes. Why? Who knows.

Time of the ApesMeanwhile back at police headquarters, Gebar receives a phone call from one of the soldiers informing him that the humans have escaped into Green Mountain! (By the way, isn’t that an awesome make-up job? His right eye is actually nearly an inch behind the rubber eye socket.) The District Leader, also in the room, commands Gebar to find the humans. In fact, the District Leader himself is going to speak to the troops in order to impart the seriousness of the situation upon them.

Back in the quarry, Gebar has rounded up a truck load of troops, comprising of a whopping grand total of 8 monkeys. As the DL (District Leader) gets out of his car, the monkeys do an odd "about face" and stand with their backs to him (!?). Gebar then gives the command to "about face" yet again so that they can face the leader. (What the hell kind of military protocol is that?!)

One of the solders has the gall to say that they are afraid to enter Green Mountain. The now infuriated Gebar shakes his radio antenna / laser-whip in the soldier’s face and calls him a coward. After that terrible ass-chewing, Gebar commands the apes to move out into Green Mountain and find them.

Meanwhile, Johnny and the others are making their way through the forest. They come across <gasp!> barb-wire fences! Oh no! This daunting obstacle is breached by crawling under it, using a total of about 5 seconds.

A few more feet down the trail, Johnny triggers a booby trap. Two huge rows of sharpened bamboo stakes spring up from the forest floor and nearly impale Johnny who just manages to jump out of the way (great trap). In case you didn’t understand what those two rows of spring-loaded sharpened bamboo stakes were, Catherine helpfully exposits "It’s some kind of a trap! Designed to kill anyone who enters here!" Gee, thanks Catherine.

Suddenly a large bush in front of them starts to rustle back and forth. (!) The terrified humans jump to their feet and run off. (What the hell?)

They trigger another booby trap that drops a load of rocks down from high up in a tree. Of course, Johnny manages to jump aside again. (Umm, who is it that’s making all these traps? Maybe he should find another line of work…)

Again! Another big bush starts to rustle (!!??) from across the path and they run off into the forest. What the hell is going on here?!! This time Caroline triggers a booby trapped net that hauls her up into the air. Johnny scrambles up the tree and begins to cut Caroline loose when suddenly another human appears from behind a tree: Godo! Godo is aiming an M-16 at Catherine and the kids, understandably suspicious of anybody who could escape his terrible array of booby-traps. Catherine tries to defuse the situation by asking him "You’re human….aren’t you?", to which he says nothing. (How freaking insulting can you get!)

Godo frees Caroline from the net and takes them to his home in the caves of Green Mountain. Catherine asks Godo whether or not there are any other humans around, to which he replies in a most unusual fashion. (See Classic Lines) After scratching my head over that one, Godo begins to dress Caroline’s wounds. (The scenes in which she received the wounds were not shown in this movie. In one scene she is fine, in the next scene she has a wounded arm. Gee thanks.) Godo also goes to fetch some new clothes for Catherine and the others since theirs are so "torn". (Why Godo would have a supply of women’s clothes in not explored.)

Meanwhile, the hapless Gebar and his squad of idiot apes have crossed the barb-wire fence and are setting off booby-traps left and right. Despite Gebar’s threats and his waving "laser-whip", the soldiers are overcome by fear and run away. Gebar does manage to touch his laser-whip against a couple of monkeys and administers a powerful cartoon electric shock. This display of raw power is enough to convince the apes to stick with the mission.

Now we see that Pepe has come to help. She is running through the fields and into Green Mountain in order to make contact with the humans. But wait! A UFO flies overhead! Now it’s gone! What the hell?! (I’m not making this up.)

Time of the ApesOk, cut scenes back to Godo’s cave. Johnny and the others are shoving their faces full of food while Godo shaves his beard. (Why?) As the human’s are eating their dinner, in runs Pepe! (I guess she avoided all those o-so-deadly traps too!) It turns out that Godo is also friends with Pepe (the other humans make no reaction to this revelation, so I can only assume that they found this out in some missing footage). Pepe breathlessly informs Godo that Gebar has set fire to Green Mountain. (It’s not everyday that I get to type a sentence like that!)

Godo grabs his M-16 and runs down the mountain, while as a sop to the viewers a voice-over explains how Godo and Pepe became friends. (Don’t worry, it really doesn’t matter, something about Godo freeing Pepe’s mother from a trap..)

Anyway, Godo comes across Gebar and his soldiers. Instead of shooting at him, the apes throw a torch and start running away! Gebar shoots one of the fleeing soldiers in the back in order to restore discipline. Godo has now breached the horrible wall of fire (actually just a burning sapling) and is swinging his rifle like a baseball bat at one of the apes. (Not to beat a dead horse, but again…why the hell don’t they just shoot each other?) Ok, whatever, the apes finally open fire and all of them miss Godo while Godo seems to kill one ape for every bullet he fires. Seeing that the cast of apes is getting noticeably fewer, Godo breaks contact and runs through some more flames (I don’t know why at this point).

Meanwhile the smoke from the fiery inferno has forced the others to flee Godo’s cave. Godo returns just in time to pull Catherine up from a cliff (?) and climb down a very convenient vine in order to pull Pepe out of the fire as well. As Godo reaches the top with an unconscious Pepe slung over his back, a host of apes appears and takes the humans prisoner yet again.

Time of the ApesBack at the quarry, we see that Godo has been tied to a stake while some sort of ape ‘witch doctor’ is pounding on bongo drums (?) and standing beside a large owl totem pole (!?).

Gebar gives the order for the drummer to stop playing. Once the drum roll has ended, Gebar next orders the soldiers to "present arms". The apes then pick up their rifles that were laying on the ground at their feet (!!!) and take aim at Godo.

Just as it looks like it’s lights out for Godo, up drives the Commander in a very non-commanding blue 1970 Buick.

Time of the ApesThe Commander and the District Leader get out of the car and approach Gebar. At this point we see that the Commander likes to wear long, full-breasted double-buttoned Civil War era jackets, like some sort of a pimp-daddy Colonel Sanders fashion statement.

The District Leader tries to explain to the Commander that Gebar has ordered the execution without approval, to which the Commander shoves the ass-kissing DL out of the way and orders Godo to be released. (The reason for Godo’s release is, of course, not given.)

Gebar understandably protests when his prisoner is released, to which he is rewarded with a slap across the face. Once Godo is untied, he runs towards the Commander and tries to karate chop him (or something) and he too is smacked to the ground with a swipe from the Commanders hand.

Johnny, watching this (incomprehensible) drama unfold, runs to the motionless Godo. The Commander grabs Johnny by the throat and starts choking him. But wait! The UFO flies over! The the UFO disappears! (What the hell?) Catherine runs over to Johnny who is still being choked and pleads for his release. The Commander drops him and orders the humans to be taken to "headquarters". As commanded, the soldiers bind Godo and toss him into the back of a truck while Catherine and the kids cram into the back seat of the Commanders car. (?)

On the ride to headquarters, Catherine pleads for the children’s release (which makes me wonder where she thinks the kids will be released to?) The Commander reassures her, in so many words, that if they behave they will be taken care of. (See Classic Lines) At that point Johnny looks out the window and sees a cartoon drawing of a city in the middle of a huge desert (?), um, I mean Johnny sees the majestic ape city.

Time of the Apes

Ape City

The Commander finally pulls up to headquarters in his command Buick and the ape honor guard does that weird "about face" back-turning maneuver. Godo is hauled out of the back of the truck and trundled down into the holding cells while the others whimper and tag along behind the Commander through the front doors.

Godo is shoved around a bit and finally thrown into an "escape-proof" cell, a cell that "not even Godo can escape from"…(Hmmm, I wonder if he’s going to escape?) The others are thrown into a slightly less "escape-proof" cell where there are given food to eat and left to ponder their plight.

Meanwhile, Godo explores the limits of his cell. This cell is rendered "escape-proof" by some sort of electrical field that zaps him whenever he gets too close to the door. After being shocked a few times, Godo decides to test it with his shoe (?), which he removes and tosses into the force field. As expected, this attempt at breaking out results in a zapped shoe. That was smart.

Suddenly we see that Pepe has infiltrated headquarters (!) and is crawling through the air ducts. Pepe navigates through the ducts and winds up directly over the cell holding Johnny, Catherine, and Caroline. (What are the odds, eh?) Johnny sits on Catherine’s shoulders, removes the air-duct covering, and climbs into the ducts with Pepe in order to find Godo. When Caroline says she wants to come along, Johnny tells the others that it will be safer to remain behind and just "convince them that I’m still in the cell". (Ok, yeah, that will work…"No really, Mr. Ape Guard, Johnny’s standing right next to me. What? You can’t see him? No really, he’s right here.")

After about 5 seconds of crawling through the air ducts, Pepe and Johnny reach Godo’s cell (good thing he’s being kept on the same floor). Johnny opens the grate and promptly drops it to the cell floor. At that very instant, in walks Gebar, intent on executing Godo with or without the Commander’s permission. That Gebar doesn’t see neither the open vent in the ceiling nor the grate laying at his feet is beyond belief.

Gebar pulls out his pistol, inserts a magazine of ammunition, and takes aim at the helpless Godo. Gebar turns off the force field and instead of immediately shooting Godo, walks into the cell and into the range of Godo’s fists. Suddenly Johnny jumps down from the air duct in the ceiling and lands directly on Gebar’s shoulders. This is quite amazing since earlier in the scene the air duct is behind Godo, now suddenly it’s 5 feet in front of Godo and directly over Gebar. Cool!

Time of the ApesA fist fight ensues with Johnny pounding on the top of Gebar’s head and Godo kneeing him in the stomach. Somehow Gebar is knocked unconscious and falls to the floor. Godo grabs Gebar’s pistol (which is mysteriously no longer attached to the holster by a security cord, which it was when Gebar first took it out of the holster) as Pepe hops down from the air duct. Godo heads out the door and disables another ape guard which somehow managed to hear nothing in the previous struggle.

Well, the alarm is sounded and apes start chasing Godo, Johnny, and Pepe through the building. Miraculously we jump to a scene where the trio is now outside the building in the street. (?) They pull up some sort of a grate in the middle of the street and jump down into an access tunnel or something. Who really knows what’s going on here. The idiot monkey guards don’t see them and lose their trail.

Luckily enough a truck full of guards parks just to the side of the little tunnel where the humans are hiding. When the guards scatter ("Hurry up!", "Find them!", "Let’s go!"), Godo and the others jump into the back (?) of the unguarded truck. Of course at that very moment, a squad of soldiers runs out of the building and jump into the back of the truck, while one of them gets into the driver’s seat and drives away with Godo, Johnny, and Pepe in the back with the ape soldiers. (Ha ha! Isn’t that ironic?)

Somehow, Godo has managed to put on a soldier’s uniform complete with a visored helmet. Wisely, Godo has lowered the visor, obscuring his face from the apes. If you think that is hard to swallow, Pepe is now sitting on Johnny’s shoulders within a soldier’s uniform so that they look the correct height! Amazing how none of the soldiers notice Johnny’s bare knees or hands sticking out from under the uniform in plain sight! (Really now, how exactly did these idiotic monkeys manage to conquer the world?)

Eventually the truck stops in some sort of town square and the ape soldiers jump out and scatter to do something. Who knows what. Godo and Pepe/Johnny get out of the truck and nonchalantly walk down the street. Somehow, the ruse succeeds, even when passing within 2 feet of a pair of ape soldiers. It boggles the mind how stupid this movie is. I suppose they made their way through town because the next scene shows them under a foot bridge in some kind of park. (?) A guard tramps back and forth just overhead to add to the non-existent tension.

Meanwhile, back at, *ahem*, headquarters, Catherine and Caroline are being interrogated by some bad monkeys. The apes want to know where Godo is hiding, a question to which neither of them can answer. (How would they know where Godo is?)

Whoops! Cut scenes to see Godo, Johnny, and Pepe now walking through some sort of desert area, or maybe it’s a beach. Wow! It’s a shame we didn’t get to see the missing episode showing how they managed to escape the city of apes. It doesn’t matter because, Whoa! The UFO returns and flies overhead. (We can now see that it’s an upside-down wok):

Time of the Apes

Is anybody missing a wok?

The UFO hovers overhead and extends some sort of pole with a bicycle light attached to it. (I’m not making any of this up!) The light flashes a few times, I suppose indicating that pictures are being taken, then the UFO zooms away.

Now we see that Pepe is back in town again, sneaking through the back streets as she proceeds on her way to…I don’t know. OK, now I see, Pepe and the others are making their way back to headquarters in order to rescue Catherine and Caroline.

That is a sign of a quality film: the viewer has to guess what is happening. Boy, I tell ya!

After a quick surveillance of the building, Pepe reports that Catherine and Caroline are being held prisoner in the second floor. (This building is definitely not the same "headquarters" building as before, so how the hell did Pepe know where they were?)

After a moments pause, Godo comes up with a real hum-dinger of a plan! Pepe gets a cart and fills it with hay, Godo and Johnny hide under the hay and Pepe pulls the innocent looking load right past a guard post and stops a short way down the street. Apparently it’s not allowed to stop with cartloads of hay on this street because the irate guard comes to investigate. Pepe says she’s tired, so the guard sets his rifle against the wall (!) and starts to help Pepe push the cart up the street (!!). Taking the cue, Godo jumps up from under the hay and overpowers the guard. Godo stashes the unconscious guard under the hay, steals his uniform (what freakin’ good is that? What, they can’t tell you’re human when you have a stupid uniform on?!), and he and Johnny make their way through the back alleys toward the building where the others are being held prisoner.

Time of the Apes

Godo disguised as an ape

In a hilarious continuity error, Pepe, still back at the hay wagon with the unconscious guard, is "keeping watch" when the guard that was just knocked out comes out of his guard shack! Pepe tells Godo (shown hiding under the hay again) that the guard is still there! So not only do the leave out missing episodes, but the episodes that they do use are spliced together in the wrong order! Thanks! That makes following this stupid movie soooo much easier!

Godo makes his way to the back stairway of the building (guarded by only one soldier, of course) and pulls out a rope and grappling hook from his pocket (!!). He then scales the back of the stairwell and hides behind the corner on the second floor balcony while Johnny waits at the bottom. (You will also note that Godo is now wearing leather driving gloves! Where the hell did he get those!)

After a moment’s pause, Godo attacks and knocks out a soldier (leaving the body on the balcony in plain sight) and pulls Johnny up to the second floor with the rope. Somehow, the manage to get inside the building and are running through the hallways looking for the cell holding Caroline and Catherine.

Johnny happens to glance down one hallway and notes that "There’s a guard there!" Godo comes to the conclusion that "That’s the room!" Wow! This guy is good! Using a plan so stupid I won’t describe it, the guard is knocked out and Godo opens the door to the cell. Sure enough, Catherine and Caroline are standing inside and a tearful reunion ensues. ("Johnny!" "Catherine!" "Caroline!" "Johnny!" "Catherine!" "Caroline!", and so on and so on and so on)

Incredibly, Catherine doesn’t want to leave! Instead, she tells Godo that they should remain in the building because they are under the Commander’s protection. Godo, to say the least, is rather suspicious. Godo insists that they leave, noting that they saw "traces of human beings near here" and they have to find them! (Ummm…which episode was that in?) Caroline decides that she would rather be with humans than apes (See Classic Lines) and joins Godo and Johnny. When Godo fails to convince Catherine with words, he simply grabs her by the arm and drags her from the room. (Thank you. Can we get this movie over with, please?)

In an amazing scene change, we suddenly see a pitched gun-fight between ape soldiers and Godo in an old-west town. (!!! What the hell !!!!) Wagon wheels lay around, old stage coaches are in the background… this is all quite surreal to be honest. It is obvious that the filmmakers needed a movie set to film a gun battle and they simply used an available "old west" movie set! This is unbelievable!

Time of the Apes

Monkey gun-fight at the OK Corral

Godo, firing wildly with a pistol he must have found in a missing episode, tries desperately to escape the flying bullets of the simian soldiers. As the monkeys close in for the kill…Whoa! The UFO appears overhead!

I need a freakin’ beer…this movie is way too much for a mortal man to watch in one sitting…

There. That’s better. Where was I. Oh yeah…

Time of the ApesGebar orders the soldiers to shoot down the UFO, at which time they put down their guns and put on surgical face masks!!! (What the hell is happening here? This is truly one of the most bizarre and baffling movies I’ve ever seen.)

The UFO shoots out a red beam of light and somehow ‘jams’ the apes’ guns just before they can open fire on it. While goofy Benny Hill-esque music plays, the apes try to get the guns to work again by shaking them in the air, chambering rounds, etc., while one monkey even looks down the barrel of his rifle to see what’s wrong with it. (Boy! That’s one elite squad of soldiers!)

Instead of just running over to the humans and bashing their brains in with their rifles (since they outnumber them 5-to-1) they puzzle with their guns while Godo and the others simply run away.

Suddenly we see Godo is back with Pepe and they steal a jeep and get away. After driving a safe distance away from the Gebar and the soldiers, oh, let’s say about 10 seconds, Godo stops the jeep and decides to wait for the UFO. (?!) (Godo also notes that "…It always comes from the East". Hmmm. OK.)

Sure enough, the UFO does appear and starts flashing a red light at them. Caroline suggests that the UFO might be signaling them to which Godo replies "Well, let’s go", and starts to drive away. (!!! I give up. You figure all this out yourself.)

Somehow, Catherine "starts to understand" what the flashing red light means (!?): "The organization known as EUCOM is now trying to take over the ape country." (What the HELL is EUCOM? Which freakin’ episode was that mentioned in?)

They decide to try and contact EUCOM for protection since EUCOM is soon going to attack the apes. (My head hurts.)

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, there has been a rebellion. Some new monkey name Luzar (pronounced "Loser", and please believe me! I’m not making that up either!) tries to wrest power from the Commander. The Commander decides to forgive him for the rebellion and agrees to kill the humans in return for getting his command back. Whatever. This is the first time I’ve ever heard anything about a rebellion, so go figure.

Back in the jeep, Godo has driven Pepe back home where Pepe’s mom is beside herself with joy at her return. Pepe’s mother finally notices the "naked apes" that have returned her daughter. Pepe explains that they are friends, blah blah blah. Good lord. Pepe realizes that the best thing to do is to remain at home with her mother. (Ummm, wasn’t EUCOM going to attack the apes at any minute?)

Bye bye Pepe.

Anyway, we now see Godo and the others driving along a dirt road back to Green Mountain in order to find EUCOM. Catherine notices Gebar’s jeep parked off to the side and they pull over to investigate. (You will note that this scene takes place in the same ‘quarry’ area that Godo was going to be executed in the beginning of the film. A penny saved is a penny earned, I guess.) Gebar suddenly leaps out of the jeep and explains that he has come alone to deal with Godo once and for all: this is going to be settled man to monkey.

Gebar begins to fire, Godo returns fire, and all they seem to hit is the rocks directly in front of their adversary’s feet (along with the occasional ricochet off the jeep’s windshield!). In the middle of the gun fight, Gebar shouts that he can now finally avenge the death of his wife and son (???).

As luck would have it, Godo’s gun runs out of bullets. Gebar walks closer, pistol aimed at Godo, and, and, and… (haven’t we seen all this before?) The UFO appears overhead and jams Gebar’s gun. (Uggg)

Gebar, foiled again and insane with frustration, charges the UFO,which has now landed at the cliff top. Demanding to know why they won’t allow him to "carry out justice" and kill the man who murdered his wife and son, Gebar approaches and…and…

Exciting isn’t it?

Suddenly a panel opens on the UFO revealing a movie screen. (??) We are now treated to a replay of the events which lead to the death of Gebar’s family. As Gebar watches in stunned silence, we see Gebar’s wife and son clinging to a vine, hanging over a cliff. Well, not a cliff, but a steep incline. OK, not even very steep, but they are trying to make it look really scary and really dangerous. Hey! Now the movie screen shows Godo running to the cliff’s edge and pulling up Gebar’s wife and son! You mean? Yes! Godo is good! Godo is good!

Gebar’s wife loses her grasp and obligingly rolls down the hill, er, I mean falls to her death. At that very moment, we see Gebar enter the scene and shoot at Godo, but misses his mark and accidentally kills his son.

Time of the ApesRealizing that he is responsible for his son’s death, Gebar goes for the Oscar and has a nervous breakdown. He drops his pistol to his cowboy-boot clad feet and begins to babble on and on about how he doesn’t deserve to live. Quite touching actually. Not.

The UFO takes off, leaving Gebar a broken monkey, weeping on the ground.

At that moment, the Commander drives up (!). Gebar explains how he killed his own wife and son (Huh? His wife fell down a cliff!) Whatever. I hate this movie. The Commander tells Gebar that is was just an accident and that he has a "good heart". Gebar asks for Godo’s forgiveness and walks away sobbing.

The Commander warns the humans that EUCOM can be treacherous and that they are better off to stay with the apes, especially since the rebellion is over. (Huh!!?? What rebellion!!??) Catherine speaks for them all when she says declines the Commander’s offer of life among the apes, noting that "we are human beings and this is ape country." Fair enough. The Commander wishes them well on their journey back to Green Mountain. (Oh, so that’s where they are headed. Thanks for filling us in.)

Back on Green Mountain, the UFO shows up and guides them to a back door at the EUCOM underground bunker. Unsure how to open the massive metal doors, Godo approaches to take a closer look and steps on some sort of button which, yes, opens the doors. (Give me a break!)

The awesome EUCOM security system now breached, the humans enter the darkened hallway beyond the metal doors.

Without warning (is there any type of warning for things that happen in this movie?), weird lights fill the screen and we hear Catherine say "We must have come into the future!" (Oh. Yes. Thank you.)

Ohh! Weird! We see Caroline waking up on a hospital bed. She leaves her room and runs down the empty halls, we see a figure approach, it’s an ape! Caroline runs, stops, turns around, and now it’s Catherine behind her! (I’m just going to describe what happens. I’ve not had any idea what’s been going on for some time now.)

Caroline faints, revives, and we see shadowy figures coming towards them from down the hallway. Are they apes? Humans? Wow! Humans! Heavy!

Hey wait! It’s Dr. Lee! They’re back home! (Huh?) The good doctor explains that everything is OK now, and that Johnny is sleeping in a room down the hall. Catherine asks where Godo is, to which a puzzled Dr. Lee tells Catherine that there were only the 3 of them that ‘came back’ or something.

Catherine runs to the lab to look into the empty capsule that was to have held Godo. Catherine reaches into the capsule and pulls out Godo’s necklace. Ooooo! Weird!

Anyway, Caroline and Johnny are taken to a room where their eager parents await them. They hug, cry, hug some more and are finally reunited with their loved ones. The camera pulls back from the room…

The end.

No wait. There’s more? What the hell?

We now see Catherine talking to Dr. Lee in the lab. Lee explains that the earthquake damaged only a "limited area". Ummm…I guess that would include the area of the entire building tipping over into a crack that we saw happen in the beginning?!!!

Catherine expresses disbelief when Dr. Lee tells her that they were buried for only 7 days while the rescue team dug through the rubble to save them. Dr. Lee goes further to explain that time is in fact relative. (I agree 100%…this movie is taking forever!) Catherine can’t believe that the 6 months (!!!) that they spent in "ape country" could have happened in only 7 days. Dr. Lee says that he believes her and even shows her the evidence to back up her story. Pointing to some dials on her capsule, he indicates some "deviations in the time scale". He is right you know, look for yourself:

Time of the Apes

As Lee goes on to explain, the indicator on the right shows 3714 years and the thermometer "shows an incredibly low temperature." The thermometer indicates that Catherine and the others were exposed to "more extreme temperatures" than absolute zero, and that these temperatures "could have elongated the time scale!"

Yeah sure, buddy.

To make things even more confusing, Catherine chimes in with her own pseudo-scientific nonsense: "The capsule was in such a low temperature zone, where the universal computer was." (Huh? I say again: Huh?)

Well, now Dr. Lee understands: "It’s all very clear!…You reversed into the past! But there was another factor: the extremely low temperature, which caused the time scale to warp, and therefore, the deep freeze capsule acted as a time converter!"

Ah. Yes. I see it now.

We then fade to scene showing Godo walking alone through a desert! (?) I guess his time scale wasn’t warped enough by the extremely low temperatures in his time convert or.

Time of the ApesWe fade again to see Catherine walking down a busy city street with Johnny and Caroline eating ice cream.

May I please interject something at this point? When is this movie going to END!!!???

We hear a voice over as Catherine explains to the kids what has happened to Godo. She explains that they returned to the present while Godo journeyed to "another time zone."

"Godo," continues Catherine, "where ever he is, will always be in our hearts!"

Johnny: "Oh yes!"

Caroline "Oh yes!"

Me: "This movie sucks!"

Dennis Grisbeck (March 2005)


This movie is unbelievable. Everything about it sucked. The below-cheap monkey special effects (their mouths don’t move for cripes sake!!!), the ridiculous story (UFO? EUCOM? A police chief named Gay-Bar!), and let’s not to forget the sheer gall to blatantly rip off "Planet of the Apes". The friggin’ nerve!

Ok, I ragged a lot about the choppiness as the story moved along, and I admit that I expected a little "jumpiness" when you make a movie from 4 of 26 episodes of the full story. But to show the clipped scenes in the wrong order! To have people running from a security building in one scene than in the very next one appear in a gunfight in a wild-west town?! To mention plot lines that aren’t even shown in the movie!? (What rebellion? Who the hell is "Loser"? Gebar’s wife and kid are dead?…what the….?)
Give me a break!

I beg you, if you ever get a chance to see the MST3K version of this film then do so! It is absolutely hilarious! Otherwise, you are on your own…

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3 comments to Time of the Apes (1987)

  • guts3d

    Great review! I always wondered at the Sci-fi genre, why there was always such huge banks of flashing lights, whirring tape reels, switches galore, meters. etc. Nothing was ever labelled! Rocket scientists wouldn’t be able to remember what each dial, button, or switch did, much less the lowbrow workers they hire! I remember Richard Basehart standing next to a really impressive display of lights on the Seaquest, and wodering if it was just eye candy, or if the patterns meant something to someone.. Anyone!!!

  • x-dude-x

    Awesome review! Just recently watched this (God it was horrible), and according to the version I watched UECCom stands for Universal Environmental Control Computer. From what I could gather it was designed to control the entire universe, oh and the apes started out as cannon fodder for human wars if you can believe that. For some reason UECCom decided humans didn’t deserve to live and wiped us all out. Godo and the others are apparently the last humans to exist and UECCom gives them a choice, after entering the “Secret” bunker, to either go to another planet or another “Time scale”. After some patently absurd drama Godo runs off into oblivion and Catherine and the other two decide to go to another “Time scale”, whereupon they end up in the cryo lab at the end. Hope I cleared up some confusion (or more likly just added to it).

  • GAPeach

    “Johnny‚Äôs sister. A voice that will make your testicles crawl back into your belly.” Best. Lines. Ever!!!

    After such an entertaining review, now I’ve a hankering to watch this stinker (MST3K, preferably).

    Dennis, I blame you, obviously. Pray for me, eh?

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