John Landis grew up on the schlocky monster movies of the 1950s and paid loving tribute to them in this, his first-ever directorial effort, aged just 21.
A scrappy sweetly artless horror-comedy, it was made for $60,000 in just 12 days in the summer of 1971, though it did not receive a release until 1973.
Landis also stars as the titular prehistoric banana-loving apeman who wakes up after 20 million years to roam the streets of Southern California. Beyond that setup, however, there’s barely a shred of plot, as Schlock drifts from unfunny set-piece to unfunny set-piece and is befriended by a blind girl who thinks he’s a dog.
It’s difficult to work out whether the stiff line readings (there’s only one professional actor in the entire film – actress Harriet Medin, credited here as Enrica Blankey) and flatly shot stunts are satirising the Z-movie inspirations or simply the result of a rookie director making do with a pocket-money budget.
As first efforts go, this is about as amateur hour as they come.
Detective Sgt. Wino
Harriet Medin (as Enrica Blankey)
Ice Cream Man
Robert E. Collins
George O’Hanlon Jr.
National Guard Captain