08th Oct2021

‘Ape vs. Monster’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Arianna Scott, Katie Sereika, Eric Roberts, Quinn Baker, Shayne Hartigan, Case Matthews, R.J. Wagner | Written by George Michael Phillips | Directed by Daniel Lusko

[NOTE: With the film now out on DVD in the UK, here’s a reposting of our review of Ape vs. Monster from its US digital release]

In 1985 the US and their enemies at the time, Russia, decided to launch a joint space mission to find extraterrestrial life and create peace between the two nations, ending the Cold War and – hopefully – giving both nations a prosperous future. Only the mission failed, the spacecraft was lost in 2007 along with its passenger, a chimpanzee… Now its 2021 and the probe has returned, along with its passenger Abraham the ape – who’s grown to a whopping 15 feet and is angry, very angry! However Abraham is not alone. The spacecraft contains alien fluids which, besides giving Abraham a growth spurt, has also escaped into the local waters. Where a salamander decides to take a sip and well… let’s just say “who’s a big boy then?!”

Now that’s one hell of a set-up for what is a mockbuster of this years Godzilla vs Kong, from the kinds of the genre, The Asylum. Though Ape vs Monster has an interesting twist of the giant monster fight it looks to “homage” – here both creature and ape are controlled by aliens from outer space. Yes, it turns out the 80s space mission DID make contact but they decided to send our ape back as a killer… Which means our human heroes have to not only contend with oversized monsters but also unseen aliens!

The plot is pretty much what you’d expect, insomuch as there isn’t really one. Both ape and monster converge on each other and have a fight. That’s it. Well, not really. We have a heroine who has a connection to the ape thats to her scientist father being one of the original team behind the space mission and wants to save him; her Russian counterpart who may have kicked all this off years ago; then of course we have the various military types and scientists all chiming in with what their take is one the situation. It’s all standard stuff for these kinds of Asylum flicks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

What’s not standard for Ape vs Monster is the CGI…

I was kind of disappointed that Abraham wasn’t a guy in a suit if I’m honest. However The Asylum, keeping costs lower than low, go all-CGI for this film. But… the CGI in this film is particularly good, both creatures are rendered well; with the films giant salamander, their “faux-zilla” if you will, looking really, REALLY good. And the final scenes, the grand-scale mass-destruction caused by the ginormous salamander look brilliant, pretty much the antithesis of The Asylum’s usual work. So good is the CGI here that you have to wonder why other recent films have featured such bad FX?

It’s a good job the CGI is top quality (for a low-budget film… bear that in mind) as the performances in Ape vs Monster are decidedly average. Eric Roberts gets and extended cameo as part of the US government but otherwise this film belongs to Arianna Scott and Katie Sereika as the films two, opposing forces, heroines. Of the two Sereika is the most believable as the Russian agent who’s trying to help her friend whilst also obeying her government mandate; meanwhile Scott’s performance starts out fine but descends into something approaching more deranged behaviour, putting her friendship with Abraham over everything else and arguing the point to finite insanity!

Ultimately Ape vs Monster is a mockbuster and you know what you’re getting from The Asylum. Though for those that don’t, I honestly don’t think they’ll be as disappointed as usual with this one when they accidentally mistake it for the much bigger-budgeted affair on their choice of on-demand service!

Ape vs Monster is available on DVD now from High Fliers Films.


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