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Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)

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Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)
Tarzan, the Ape Man.jpg
No, Joseph Joestar, this is not a "very nice" movie at all.
Genre: Adventure
Directed By: John Derek
Produced By: Bo Derek
Written By: Tom Rowe
Gary Goddard
Based On: Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Starring: Bo Derek
Richard Harris
John Phillip Law
Miles O'Keeffe
Distributed By: United Artists (United States)
Cinema International Corporation (international)
Release Date: August 7, 1981
Runtime: 115 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $6.5-8 million
Box Office: $36.5 million

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. Laughable performances, especially from Bo Derek.
  3. Little to absolutely no faith in the source material.
    • There weren't any comical elements in the Tarzan stories.
  4. Awkward dialogue including Jane stating to Tarzan "I'm still a Virgin. I don't know whether that's good or bad."
  5. Needless sexual scenes, mostly involving Bo Derek's character Jane Parker, whom is often seen in as little clothing as possible, which are all nothing more than excuses for director John Derek to take advantage of Bo Derek's sex appeal as one of the attempts to get people to watch the film.
  6. False advertising for two reasons:
    • 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. Instead, the film focuses more on Jane than Tarzan.
    • Despite being a Tarzan movie, on the poster you can see Bo Derek as Jane and not Miles O'Keeffe as Tarzan.
  7. 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 tells 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 critical 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