HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
Wing Commander
Look Back in Anger
Early Man
Killdozer
   
 
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
   
 
  Monkey Shines Haven't You Always Wanted A Monkey?Buy this film here.
Year: 1988
Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Jason Beghe, John Pankow, Kate McNeil, Joyce Van Patten, Christine Forrest, Stephen Root, Stanley Tucci, Janine Turner, William Newman, Tudi Wiggins, Tom Quinn, Chuck Baker, Patricia Tallman, David Early
Genre: Horror
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is a college student who today awoke beside his girlfriend Linda (Janine Turner), got up to do his regular exercise routine, went jogging around the neighbourhood, and was promptly knocked over by a passing car when a dog leaped out at him. Now he is a quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down and his life has gone downhill rapidly, with him seeing little hope for his future. His overbearing mother (Joyce Van Patten) ensures that he has the best assistance available, with his house decked out in the latest paraphernalia, but he's still not happy - so how about a little friend to help him through these dark days?

A little monkey friend that is, in this, the first film George A. Romero directed for a Hollywood studio (his previous films had been independents). Although he had been forced to change the ending (it is said he had envisaged an army of homicidal monkeys for his grand finale), and even then there was a silly shock imposed on him in the last minute or two, the results were nowhere near the disaster that was feared by his fans. Essentially Monkey Shines, adapted by Romero from the novel by Michael Stewart, was an update of those old mad scientist movies of yesteryear, only instead of a man in a gorilla suit that the hero had to contend with, it was an actual monkey.

A very well-trained monkey called Boo essayed the role of the psychopathic simian, a great little actor who was part of a genuine project to assist the disabled. Naturally, none of the animals involved in that went on to form a psychic link with their owners and end up channelling their impotent rages into actual murder, as happens here, and there are not one but two disclaimers, at the beginning and in the end credits, reassuring that it's only a movie, folks, and a monkey wouldn't deliberately slaughter anybody in the manner seen in this. So armed with that information, you can settle into the story that doesn't play quite as absurdly as it sounds - not quite, although there are silly parts.

For a start it's hard to believe that even in the position he is in, Allan would ever have it in him to wish those around him dead, so there's a hurdle that the film never clears. We are also meant to accept that Ella, his monkey, has been injected with a serum made from human brains which has given it a super intellect, for a monkey, that is, which is prone to reverting to its savage side just as Allan is. It's his best friend Geoffrey Fisher (John Pankow) who has developed the serum, and one sign that this is the eighties was that Lionel Atwill or John Carradine never had animal rights activists harrassing them, but as usual with this type of plot, convincing reasons for creating mad science are thin on the ground.

So there are the problems, but it's to Romero's credit, and that of his team, that Monkey Shines turns genuinely suspenseful once it builds up a head of steam. At first the monkey starts small and kills the pet budgie of Allan's grumpy live-in nurse (played by Romero's wife Christine Forrest), but once she moves out and his interfering mother moves in, his previous psychological lift that Ella has provided reverts to his foul moods, so foul that Ella rushes out of the house one night and bumps off Linda and the doctor who she left Allan for. He cannot quite believe what is happening at first, though a psychic link to the creature confirms his worst fears, and the stage is set, after a little too much scene-setting to be honest, for a high quality suspense half hour. Besides, the detail that Romero goes into is very informative about the difficulties quadriplegics face, from getting around to lovemaking (another nurse, played by Kate McNeil, becomes Allan's girlfriend and potential monkey victim), so this can be said to be educational as well, even if losing the power of your limbs is scarier than any knife-wielding primate. Music by David Shire.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1743 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

George A. Romero  (1940 - )

American writer/director and one of the most influential figures in modern horror cinema, whose ability to write strong scripts and characters match his penchant for gory chills. The Pittsburgh native began his career directing adverts before making Night of the Living Dead in 1968. This bleak, scary classic ushered in a new era of horror film-making, but Romero struggled initially to follow it up - There's Always Vanilla is a little-seen romantic drama, and Jack's Wife was butchered by its distributor. The Crazies was a flop but still an exciting slice of sci-fi horror, and while the dark vampire drama Martin again made little money but got Romero some of the best reviews of his career and remains the director's personal favourite.

In 1978 Romero returned to what he knew best, and Dawn of the Dead quickly became a massive international hit. Dawn's success allowed Romero to make the more personal Knightriders, and he teamed up with Stephen King to direct the horror anthology Creepshow. The intense, underrated Day of the Dead, spooky Monkey Shines and half of the Poe-adaptation Two Evil Eyes followed. The Dark Half, based on Stephen King's novel, was Romero's last film for nine years, and he returned in 2000 with the strange Bruiser. A fourth Dead film, Land of the Dead, was released in 2005, and lower budgeted fifth and sixth instalments rounded off the decade.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: