Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)

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Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981) Movie Review


Rightfully roasted as one of the worst films of all time, the 1981 reimagination of Tarzan the Ape Man proves that you can take Bo Derek to water, but you can't make her not get naked and play around in it.

I scarcely know where to start dissecting this debacle. The entire purpose of the movie is to show off Bo Derek's body. What happens en route to that is almost incidental. It certainly has nothing to do with the Tarzan story as we know it. Jane (Derek) heads to Africa to visit dad (poor, poor Richard Harris), who's on safari. Soon she encounters a beefcake guy with a waxed chest, and by the time they meet a second time she's encouraging him to grope her under her invariably wet shirt.

In slow motion.

Not long after that, Jane finds herself captured and being bathed by natives, then slathered in mud. It's Tarzan to the rescue, riding elephants!

In slow motion.

Director John Derek (Bo's husband) proved that he had no understanding whatsoever of filmmaking. Whoever gave him a camera (ahem: "Produced by Bo Derek") should have been lobotomized. (Errr...) There's not a well-crafted moment in the entire movie. Scenes are thrown together seemingly at random. The sound cuts in and out as if the microphone was in someone's pocket. He can't focus the camera or hold it still. Horizontal wipes annoy the hell out of us, and of course, the entire freakin' movie is in slow motion. Not that it matters, because Tarzan is so pathetically stupid it's impossible to care about any of its technical flaws. Jane or dad end up in danger, and Tarzan saves the day. Often, the white men don't understand it and they try to shoot poor Tarzan, who ambles away into the woods when bullets start flying.

In slow motion.

It's amazing that Tarzan didn't immediately kill the career of everyone involved with it. In fact it was only those responsible for the screenplay that saw work dry up: Writer Tom Rowe never worked in Hollywood again; co-writing partner Gary Goddard went on to "write and produce" theme park rides in Las Vegas.

Sounds about right.

This movie is so bad it's not even funny as modern irony, a la Showgirls. It's just creepy voyeurism made to the lowest quality standards.

In slow motion.


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Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981) Rating

" Unbearable "

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