Don Glut is a lover of the golden age of monster movies, and his 1994 documentary explores Hollywood’s fascination with apes. Though “King Kong” popularized the giant ape in film, the idea of giant apes have been around for quite a while and even showed up every so often in silent films. Even by 1994 standards, “Hollywood Goes Ape!” isn’t the most polished documentary, but it does offer a no frills exploration in to ape cinema of all kinds. There are looks at giant ape films like “King Kong” and “Konga,” and odd ball ape movies like “The Ape Man,” and “Superman vs. The Gorilla Gang.”
There are even glimpses in to the various actors and stuntmen that went on to portray apes in various serials and horror films throughout the fifties and sixties. Their history is one of the most fascinating as Glut explores how most of these men owned their own custom ape suits, often mastered the art of imitating apes, and yes, took playing apes so seriously that it was often tough to set them apart from real apes. Glut does every now and then glimpse in to more contemporary ape films, showing off the wonderful effects by Rick Baker in “Gorillas in the Mist,” and the cast behind the ape characters in “Planet of the Apes.”
That said, “Hollywood Goes Ape!” is more about how Hollywood has always had a fascination with apes from the silent era right in to the sixties, and there are some neat interviews, especially with Forrest J. Ackerman, who recalls a lot of the experiences with King Kong and Konga. The documentary is a very entertaining history lesson for movie buffs with our hosts keeping up their end of the movie with some fun antics, history lessons in infamous films like “Robot Monster,” and there’s even some discussion about the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial. “Hollywood Goes Ape!” is an entertaining and breezy novelty documentary that tackles a shockingly popular facet of Hollywood, and how apes both humongous and man size, have pretty much always been a part of the movies.