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The Independent Critic

Jenny Neumann, Barbara Leigh, Garth Pillsbury, Walt Robin and Stuart Lancaster
Larry Buchanan
84 Mins.
Cheezy Flicks (DVD)

 "Mistress of the Apes" on DVD from Cheezy Flicks 
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Within every Oscar winner's cinematic background, there's at least one deep dark secret. For Oscar winning make-up effects artists Rob Bottin and Greg Cannom, that secret may very well be that they're involved with Larry Buchanan's fairly close to dreadful Mistress of the Apes, a film so bad that it's highlight would have to be the Tom Jones like vocals that accompanies a scene near the end of the film that's sort of a cross between tribal rhythms and Vegas lounge.

No kidding.

In the film, Susan (Jenny Neumann) is the wife of a famous anthropologist who is rushed to a hospital in labor. At precisely the same time (of course), crazed druggies raid the hospital looking for drugs causing the baby to be stillborn. While she's still recovering from her trauma, Susan learns that her husband has disappeared in Africa. She launches an effort to find him, in the process discovering a bizarre world of sexy jungle women.


Mistress of the Apes is at its core trying to be an action/horror flick, with only the aforementioned music scene really causing much in the way of laughs (and I truly challenge you to not laugh). Neumann had her first role with this film, though she toiled around Hollywood for another nine years doing mostly bit parts on television and in a few films before calling it quits in 1987 to focus on her writing career.

It's too bad she couldn't have written the script for this film.

Director Larry Buchanan, a self-described "schlockmeister," actually had an incredibly interesting background starting with being raised in a Baptist orphanage before being offered a scholarship to study ministry. He declined the pastoral path, instead turning his attention towards film. Initially, he tried acting and even had a relatively small appearance in Gregory Peck's The Gunfighter, but his heart was in directing and he actually started out making religious docs for evangelist Oral Roberts. In 1951, he directed Peabody Award nominee The Cowboy, but by the end of that decade had turned his attention towards B-movie drive-in fare. He would stay with the B-movie route for the rest of his career before passing away at the age of 81 in 2004. Sadly, he died as he was editing what he considered to be his best film - a Gnostic interpretation of Christ that returned him to his religious roots.

But, back to Mistress of the Apes.

It sucks. Oh, how it sucks.

There are those who've compared Buchanan to a certain director with the last name of Wood. It is a fair comparison. It occurred to me at one point that the best thing about the film may very well be the DVD's cover, which implies a sort of Tarzan presentation that never lives out in the film itself.

Have I mentioned that it sucks?

If you love B-movies and you have an overwhelming desire to see really bad cinema (I love really bad cinema), then you'll absolutely go giddy over Mistress of the Apes.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
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