Some movies are born stupid, some achieve stupidity, and some have stupidity thrust upon them. Psycho Ape!, directed by Addison Binek, is a little bit of all three. After a tragic massacre at a “teenage girl party” gets pinned on Bigfoot, a homicidal ape becomes emboldened. Twenty-five years later, he’s deep into his career of roaming the countryside and butchering the innocent with a banana. Does he do it out of spite? Was he wronged? Did he snap after years of being pelted with overpriced zoo snacks? Who cares?
If you’re wondering about motivations or how an ape manages to kill people with a banana, you’re not doing this right. Psycho Ape! doesn’t color outside the lines because it has no lines. Anything goes, and I can happily report that the going is good. It’s certainly understandable to think there are only so many scenarios where a dude in a gorilla costume can kill someone before it gets old, but the movie has such an infectious, carefree attitude that you just go along with it. As a serious journalist, I feel obliged to mention that the banana isn’t the only way the ape kills. Sometimes, he pulls someone’s heart out first, then stabs it with a banana.
“…a homicidal ape…butchering the innocent with a banana.”
Not everything in the movie works—a lot of things don’t—but the gags are so fast and loose that you only remember the good ones. There’s no shortage of self-deprecation regarding the tiny budget, most notably when it comes to leaving in bloopers if they’re funnier than the scene would have been if done right. One scene in which two friends argue over the ideal Pixar ranking gradually becomes a real-life argument, at which point the crew has to intervene. Don’t worry, though. They get banana’d later on—the proper fate for all who would have such an argument. Even though it’s a small moment, I do like when Nancy Bananas (Kansas Bowling)—the sole survivor of the first massacre and future lover of the psycho ape—pulls her wig down over her eyes in horror.
Along with its extreme violence, Psycho Ape! can also boast of such lowbrow attractions as chocolate pudding with pieces of corn in it and duck nudity. Among the best sight gags is a last-minute dildo combating the ape’s banana, complete with a lightsaber sound effect. In writing, it sounds a little dumb, but the visual is even dumber—so dumb, you can’t believe how dumb it is, and that’s when it becomes funny.
It’s hard not to fall for Psycho Ape! from the moment a banana is used to sever someone’s limb. A lot of movies come around with a low budget and a schlocky swagger to match, but few of them do so with as much glee and hidden wit as this one. There isn’t any imitative Tarantino dialogue you see so much or characters drowning in their own eccentricities. The makers of Psycho Ape! aren’t trying to impress you, but they might by accident.
"…if you’re wondering about motivations or how an ape manages to kill people with a banana, you’re not doing this right."