17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
When Bo Derek emerged from Blake Edwards's hit 10 as a cornrow-sporting sex symbol, she and her Svengali-like mentor John Derek--who'd been, at one time, a wooden movie pinup himself--decided that together they'd "create" Bo's subsequent starring vehicles. This collaboration resulted in a trio of Bad Movies To Love, including the 1981 Tarzan, the Ape Man. "Produced" by Bo and "directed and photographed" by John, Tarzan reduced Edgar Rice Burrough's far-from-classic work to the level of a magazine spread on a Playboy bunny in the, er, bush.
Richard Harris, an explorer in deepest, darkest Africa, is expecting the next boat to deliver a cannon, but instead he receives bombshell Bo, playing his long-estranged daughter. Her thespian skills had not improved one whit since her first Bad Movie with Harris, Orca, but blank-eyed Bo clearly hadn't a clue. "You first-class b--tard," she says to Harris, mistakenly believing that the dreamy, "I've-just-had-the-most-fabulous-orgasm" look on her face could possibly be interpreted as anger. Bo's utter ineptitude is made all the funnier by Harris's response, which is to ham it up to the skies--and beyond. When Bo leaves his welcoming party, Harris says to his mongrels, "She didn't find me a pretty sight. Do you think I--overdressed?" We fully expect one of the dogs to reply, "No, you--overacted."
Bo takes command of this soft-core extravaganza by doing what she's best at: stripping off her Banana Republic-style wardrobe to swim--well, perhaps "bob" is the more accurate term--in that ocean surf rarely seen in films set in the middle of the Dark Continent. Bo in the buff brings around Miles O'Keeffe, a very buffed Tarzan, and just when it seems that this comely pair might turn the movie into a hard-core porn flick--which would've been a big improvement--Harris literally runs into the frame, screaming at his safari aide (Bad Movie vet John Phillip Law), "Make camp, make camp, make camp!" It's hard to imagine how the flick could be any campier. One night, hearing Tarzan's patented yell, Harris bellows back, "Shut up, you boring son of a ...!"--the very thing that the Dereks should have told Harris. Bo instead calls Harris a "b--tard" again, prompting this reply: "I am. I wallow in me. I indulge myself 100 percent. Take my advice, dear, do the same thing." As if the notoriously self-indulgent Dereks weren't already way, way past the 100 percent mark!
After O'Keeffe saves Bo from a riotous slow-mo encounter with a rubber snake, his unconscious body gets carried away on the tusks of an obliging elephant as Bo, panting with lust, follows along. Grimacing while picking at her teeth (apparently to suggest that she's thinking), Bo eyes O'Keeffe's physique and says, "I've never touched a man before..."--a howler that's topped when these two go swimming. "I feel like I'm reading this in a book," Bo exults, as if she could read. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry or just turn to the next page!" It all ends, as we'd hoped it would, with local savages forcing a nude Bo down on all fours. "They're washing me," she cries, in one of our most favorite Bad Movie lines ever, "just like a horse!" O'Keeffe rescues her--but it was too late to save her career.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2004
Beautiful Bo Derek (as Jane Parker) embarks on an erotic jungle adventure to West Africa to find her estranged explorer father (Richard Harris). Along the way she meets up with the handsome and extremely buff title character (Miles O'Keefe). The locations (Sri Lanka) are almost as gorgeous as Bo, and the photography (courtesy of John Derek) is equally breathtaking. I enjoyed this film, despite the campy script and preposterous story. It is a silly adventure that shows all the interactions between this sexy jungle duo that usually happened behind the palm trees. I liked the fact that Jane Parker was portrayed as a liberated and independent woman (even though it's supposed to be 1910). I think that Bo's performance (despite the critical backlash) was spirited and appealing. The late Richard Harris seems to overact a bit in his role as the demanding expedition leader, and his constant bellowing gets old after a while. Also, the incestuous overtones make some scenes uncomfortable to watch. Miles O'Keefe is a wonderful Tarzan (how did that tiny loincloth stay on anyway?). This DVD adds the previously edited "controversial" scenes that were missing from the cinematic and video release! (And yes, a chimpazee really does kiss Bo's nipple in one innocent moment) The only "extra" in this DVD is the original theatrical trailer. For those who admired that famous leather bikini that Bo wears in the promotional posters and DVD cover, you'll be dissappointed - as she never wears it on camera. When this movie was first broadcast on network T.V., she wore it during the closing credits during a beautiful walk on the beach with Tarzan and C.J. the famous movie orangutan. I prefered this ending to the semi-nude wrestling romp that accompanies the closing credits on the DVD. This is a great film, and the picture/sound/music quality transfer to DVD is great. Bo's star may have faded in the following decades, but I still remember waiting in a very long line at the theater to see the perfect "10" swing with Tarzan...
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2007
John Derek's "Tarzan the Ape Man" is a strange movie. In Maltin's Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin says he almost felt he needed to devise a rating below "BOMB", his lowest rating, in order to rade "Tarzan the Ape Man".
So, is it really that bad? Not really. Is it good? Not really. Is it worth watching? Definitely.
First of all, the movie is not so much about Tarzan as about Jane, and her relationship with her estranged father, explorer James Parker. Great actor Richard Harris plays James Parker and Harris gives us some of the most hilarious overacting you'll likely to see in a long time. The drama part of the story, the relationship between Parker and Jane, is laughable, because the dialoge is so silly and because of Harris's absurd acting. Other examples of Harris's overacting is when, at night, they hear Tarzan yell in the distance, and Parker screams "Oh, shut up, you bo-oring sonuvabitch!"
Jane joins her father's expedition and before long, Jane meets Tarzan, when he saves her from a lion while she's taking a bath (one of several bathing scenes whose main purpose is to show Bo Derek with no clothes.
After a while Jane meets Tarzan again, after he saves her from a snake. He fights the snake in what may be one of the worst "action" scenes ever filmed, in slow motion and double exposure, so we don't see what happened. Anyway, Tarzan gets injured and Jane tries to nurse him back to consciousness with the help from an elephant and some chimps, while saying things like, "I've never touched a man before, but I like it. I like it very much". Later, Tarzan wakes up and she continues talking to him, even though he obviously doesn't understand English. For some reason she says "Do you know you're more beautiful than any girl I know?"
Later, when Jane is reunited with her father and his troupe, they're abducted by some strange natives who strip Jane naked and start painting her white. Jane asks her father to tell her a story so she can think of something else while this is going on and he starts spouting something like "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.... All the kings horses and all the kings men...." It's extremely absurd and has to be seen to be believed.
So, the movie is fun, although it could have been slightly shorter for better pace, but it definitely deserves to be a cult turkey. And those who want to see Bo naked won't be disappointed. But whatever everyone else says, I do think she's also a quite decent actress. Miles O'Keeffe plays Tarzan, he doesn't have much to do, but he's sure nice to look at.
Recommended for fans of Bo and fans of strange, funny "bad" movies.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
I remember watching the trailer for "Tarzan the Ape Man" and be so impressed by the shot of a half naked figure on an exotic beach. To this day I think that shot of Miles O'Keeffe as Tarzan, rising majestically from his crouch, is the single most impressive shot in a Trazan film in the history of the world. The problem, of course, is that despite the title this 1981 film from director John Derek is supposed to be showcasing his wife, Bo Derek, who plays Jane. You would think that have a great looking Tarzan in a Tarzan movie would be a good thing, but he ends up being only secondary eye candy in this film.
Granted, "Tarzan the Ape Man" is a legendary bad film, but it is the sort of bad film that you really have to see to believe. You can have a lot of fun laughing at a movie. In terms of Tarzan films this goes back to the Johnny Weismuller approach; actually, it goes beyond, because this Tarzan says absolutely nothing, which would be the Elmo Lincoln approach I guess. More importantly, he looks like if he had to go hand-to-hand with a great ape he would end up standing at the end (compare him to Christopher Lambert in "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan," which is still the film version that best embodies the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel).
The big irony here is that if Bo Derek said nothing the film would be greatly improved; the problem with this film is not so much the visual images as the lousy dialogue (this is symbolized by the fact that the film begins with Tarzan's yell replacing the roar of the MGM lion in the opening credit). Bo shared the Razzie Award for Worst Actress with Faye Dunaway in "Mommie Dearest"; this film might have been bad but it managed to avoid winning any other awards, leaving those honors (or lacks thereof) to the likes of "Heaven's Gate" and Klinton Spilsbury in "The Legend of the Lone Ranger." Richard Harris plays Jane's father and tries gamely to bring some dignity and intelligence to the film, but Bo's babe in the woods act keeps bringing the film crashing down (when she starts crying about getting painted white near the end of the film is when I lost it).
I had a friend who insisted that this was supposed to be a comedy, an outright spoof, and that nobody should be taken it literally. I have to disagree. They thought this was going to be a more sensual version of the Tarzan story, more like "The Blue Lagoon" for grown ups than anything else. However, the black & white films that Weismuller made with Maureen O'Sullivan in the early 1930s during the pre-Code era are still the sexiest Tarzan films ever made. As Bo Derek amply proves in this film, there is such a thing as showing too much skin. The rating for this film has to do with its unintended entertainment value and not its quality. Again, there are simply some films in the Bottom 100 of all time that you have to see to appreciate why they have found their appropriate place in cinematic history.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Bo Derek was the Edsel of film-making. While hubby/producer/Svengali, John Derek , was sure that the movie going public, and the world in general, was going to worship his latest puppet/goddess, the public decided otherwise. This movie is easily one of the worst ever filmed. There are bad movies that can still be unintentionally funny and entertaining, (See my review of "Valley Of The Dolls"), such as any campy "B" movie you might see on "Mystery Science Theater", but this filming of the Tarzan tale is just plainly, leadenly, drudgingly awful. Even if something is very beautiful, if you stare at it long enough, it becomes boring. In this flick, it only takes a few minutes to get past Bo Dereks catatonic beauty, until you're bored into a stupor. She may have improved her acting skills since the filming of this movie (she would have had to), and, in recent interviews, she seems to have matured into a nice, thoughtful lady. But back then, there was not a thespian bone in her lovely body, and though hubby John thought she could carry the film, it was not to be. The script is so awful, that there are a few unintentionally humorous lines. And, though there are times when covering ones teeth is appropriate, watching Bo trying to sensually eat a banana (one can almost see hubby-director John off to the side, getting all hot & bothered as he coaches her), it is only stupidly hysterical as she appears totally toothless during this scene. Luckily for the hunk who played the Ape Man himself, he has not a line of dialogue to distract from our Bo on screen, and apparently he had the sense to retreat into oblivion after this films release. Richard Harris probably just went for broke, and acts insane. Compared to this movie, watching any of the old Johnny Weissmueller versions is like watching Olivier. I guess this movie is worth a one time look, at the very least to film students, on how to avoid self-indulgence, cliches, and, boring an audience to death. Or, pop it in if you're having trouble sleeping...in minutes, you'll be snoring away!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2004
The title character does not get much screen time in this film. He doesn't even get any lines (most of his yells are done so that you can't see his mouth). This is really the story of Jane.
Jane has decided to go to Africa to search for her father who left her and her mother many years before. On the way she must defend her virtue, kill the crew of the boat she hired, and pilot the boat to her father. There she finds a man who seems to have had his brains baked in the sun a little too long.
Eventually they all go off to search an escarpment to find the elephant's graveyard. Once on top they find the giant inland sea and a bizarre tribe living near the graveyard (we only see one dead elephant so at the time I did not know the "graveyard" had been found). They also run into Tarzan who has the habit of not speaking and passing out whenever he exerts himself.
I really got the feeling that the only thing any of the film's creators knew about Tarzan was what they had learned from Johnny Weissmuller films. The escarpment seems to be about half the continent. It is nearly impossible to climb so I don't know how dying elephants manage to get up it. Jane's experiences with the bizarre tribe (where she gets painted white) seem to have been lifted from Ursula Andress's film Slave Of The Cannibal God.
There is very little that is right with this film (other than that it does finally end). Jane goes from super-able to a frightened schoolgirl but eventually falls for Tarzan and reconciles with her father. But in the end it is not really worth watching. For viewers who are hoping to see Bo Derek nude, almost all of that is found during the closing credits so you might as well just skip right to them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The incomparable Bo Derek is the star of this remake of the Tarzan story that actually takes itself seriously. John Derek, in true generosity, avails us of all of his preternaturally beautiful wife's charms. The first hour of the movie, she is clothed, just teasing us, building up the sexual tension for the obvious eventual full nudity to come. We get a delightful glimpse of her magnificent nude body early on when she decides to bathe naked in the rolling surf. What a scene this is!
The plot continues, and takes a strange twist that is of course concocted as a thinly-veiled device to get this amazing creature in the nude again. The scenes in which she is bathed and painted white by the odd native tribe are among the most innocently erotic in all of cinema. Silly, for sure, but these are images that you will not soon forget.
The denouement of the "film" is the innocently depraved final scene, in which Jane finally gets to play (mostly nude, of course) with her "Ape-man" Tarzan. What makes it even more fun is when one of Tarzan's apes playfully tastes one of her nipples. The filmmakers hustle that primate out of the scene before he gets more aroused(as the audience surely is by now). The overly frisky chimp is simply replaced by an equally playful orangutan. Watching Tarzan, this ape, and Bo Derek frolic in the nude together is either erotic or perverse, depending on your point of view. This last 5 minute scene, during which the credits roll, and the scene with the white paint, are the points that in the "old days" men and teen boys fast-forwarded to with their VCRs. Today, you can do the same with your DVD, or better yet the digital version of this movie.
Either way, libidinous males (who have not become jaded with the overexposure of the free, explicit internet) will find this movie an absolute joy, with images that will be seared into their brains for years to come.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2006
This is one of the worst movies ever! It seems to just have been an excuse for the actress and her director husband to show off her naked body!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Possibly one of the worst movies ever made, Bo and John Derek managed to massacre the Tarzan legend while wreaking cinematic havoc with this unbelievably bad waste of celluloid. Where to begin....the lousy script, the poopy cinematography, the atrocious acting....I can't think of enough adjectives to describe how putrid this actually is. As for erotic - forget it. Jane should have boffed the ape instead. Jane and papa head through the jungle, delayed by her repeated falls into the river. Despite the time period, when women were supposed to be modest, Jane doesn't seem to know what underwear is. Yeesh. I can't believe people actually paid to see this tripe. If you must watch it, rent it and save some $. You'll be glad you did
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
With KING KONG 76, and SONG OF NORWAY this film was dissected by critics. Yet I cannot help liking it. Like THE BLUE LAGOON 80 it has two beautiful stars(Miles O`Keeffe and Bo Derek), breathtaking photography and a good score. OK! So it i s slowmoving, but it u want an erotic Tarzan movie(who wouldn`t?) this I S the picture. Richard Harris is over-the-top at times and the film does scream for tighter editing. But on the whole; I reckemend it.