Empire of the Apes (2013)

It is actually impressive to see so many of the Polonia Brothers‘ stock company of players in one movie.

Of course, when I say “see” it’s a somewhat relative term as almost all of them are hidden behind ape masks.  Or security guard masks.  Heck, even Mark Polonia himself is hiding beneath one.

In fact, the only faces on display are the three female leads and Steve Diasparra.

Oh, well, I guess he got the short straw.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Polonia Brothers (whose work has frequently appeared on this site), they were the undisputed kings of the cheap, DIY direct to VHS movie of the late Nineties and early Nothings.  If you try to evaluate their films from the normal standards of cinema they are, well, terrible.  But there is something about them that transcends their limitations (lots of goofy dialogue; endless scenes of people wandering around in the woods; inexplicable plotting; Nerf guns repurposed as alien weapons; Wellsboro, PA doubling for aliens worlds, jungles, tropical islands, or whatever else is needed; etc., etc.).  

Not that I’m actually sure what it is.  

But,  if you’ve seen one of their films, you’ve probably seen half a dozen. They are an addictive pleasure, perhaps because they almost seem to cry out, “hey, let’s see you do any better.”

And the last time I checked I hadn’t.

However, there’s been a bit of a debate about whether their films have been as good after the death of Mark’s brother John in 2009.  I’m not sure where I stand on that one, and would note that Jurassic Prey and Alien Surveillance are among their best films.  On the other hand, I really think that their work lost a little something when they did away with that raw, shot on video look a few years before John’s death.

In case you hadn’t guessed, this is the Polonia Brothers version of The Planet of the Apes.  Well, one of them, at least, as they made a sequel and an earlier film, Gorilla Warfare: Battle of the Apes, back in 2002 (and the final segment of Dinosaur Chronicles merely substitutes dinosaurs!)  I don’t think there is a connection between this one and the earlier film, although I suspect that they might have reused the masks.  While Brett Piper gets a credit for props, I have to wonder if he didn’t make the masks as well as they are quite good, for a non-Hollywood, non-animatronic mask.   I  recognize his design sense in the throne and some of the other furnishings in the Ape compound and I’ll admit I find myself wondering if they didn’t borrow them from the earlier film.

After all, this is a Polonia Brothers film.

The story here is fairly straightforward, with three young women escaping from a prison ship and ending up somewhere far worse:  in the hands of a bunch of damned dirty apes.

Mind you, the ape characters are more interesting than the human ones — whether we can see their faces or not — and there are no weird little side stories stuck in just to give Mark or John his cameo.  It’s not a bad super low budget film as these things go, but for the most part it never makes it to the batty heights of Polonia-ness that you find in films like Peter Rottentail or Feeders 2: Slay Bells.

Except, that is, for the goofy moments at the end when we finally get a glimpse of the media-obsessed ape-run world, with talk shows, Network News and celebrity journalism.

This really isn’t the Polonia Brothers film to start with — that would probably be either of the Feeders movies — but it is an interesting minor effort: on the Brothers’ scale of goofy weirdness, I would rate this one three out of five VHS tapes.

However, I do have to wonder:  if you were going to put a mask on any of the actors who appear regularly in Polonia films, wouldn’t Steve Diasparra be your first choice?

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5 thoughts on “Empire of the Apes (2013)

  1. Quote – “if you were going to put a mask on any of the actors who appear regularly in Polonia films, wouldn’t Steve Diasparra be your first choice?” – Hey, I’ve worn a mask in at least a dozen or more PBE films. It’s nice to get out from behind the latex once in a while. And I’ll bet my wife is way hotter than your significant other, so bite me!

    Liked by 1 person

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