Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)

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Tarzan, the Ape Man is a 1981 sexploitation film starring Richard Harris and Bo Derek. The film co-stars Miles O'Keeffe, Akushula Selayah, Steve Strong, Maxime Philoe and Leonard Bailey. It is loosely based on the story Tarzan of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but from Jane's perspective of the story of Tarzan. The film was directed by John Derek.


Hunter James Parker (Harris) takes his daughter, Jane (Derek) to find a legendary white ape. Later, Jane finds out that the "white ape" is actually a wild man named Tarzan. Jane is for some weird reason kidnapped and she befriends Tarzan.

Why It Sucks

  1. The title feels more like a loose remake of the other Tarzan, the Ape Man movies, which makes it extremely confusing to tell which version of Tarzan, the Ape Man is which.
  2. On the poster, you can see Bo Derek as Jane and not Miles O'Keeffe as Tarzan.
  3. Laughable performances, especially from Bo Derek.
  4. Little to absolutely no faith to the source material.
  5. There weren't any comical elements in the Tarzan stories.
  6. Awkward dialogue including Jane stating to Tarzan "I'm still a Virgin. I don't know whether that's good or bad."
  7. The tagline "Unlike any other "Tarzan" you've ever seen!" doesn't fit, because it has doesn't feel like a Tarzan movie nor does it focus on Tarzan.
  8. Tarzan actually kidnaps Jane, which makes him unlikable.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The costumes are authentic.
  2. The special effects are pretty good.
  3. Some scenes are pretty amusing, albeit unintentionally.
  4. Hearing Jane tell her story of Tarzan is interesting.
  5. The classic Tarzan yell is heard.


Tarzan, the Ape Man was met with extremely negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. It currently holds a 10% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 2.4 out of 10, but lacks a critic consensus. Film critic Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a 2.5 out of 4 stars and described it as "completely ridiculous, but at the same time it has a certain disarming charm." Leonard Maltin also described the film as one of the worst films he had ever seen and stated that the film was "a deranged 'remake'" and added that it "lacks action, humor and charm; Forget about comparisons to Johnny Weissmuller; O'Keefe makes Elmo Lincoln seem like Edwin Booth." On IMDb, the film holds a 3.3 out of 10.

Box Office

Tarzan, the Ape Man grossed $36,565,280 against its $6 million budget, making it a success.

Awards and nominations

Tarzan, the Ape Man was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture. It only won one Raspberry Award for Bo Derek as Worst Actress.


External links