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  Link Missing No Longer
Year: 1986
Director: Richard Franklin
Stars: Elisabeth Shue, Terence Stamp, Steven Pinner, Richard Garnett, David O'Hara, Kevin Lloyd, Joe Belcher
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Out in this remote area of the British countryside lies a village, and something is stalking the nighttime streets, unseen by the locals. It notices an open window to a little girl's bedroom; she is wide awake, scared by sensing its presence, so much so that she screams out loud, bringing her parents and seeing off the creature. But not so far away lies a mansion house where Dr Steven Phillip (Terence Stamp) resides with his collection of three chimps which he studies for research purposes. Could these apes have got out?

You can blame Tarzan movies for the fact that chimps are depicted as so cute onscreen, a notion continued in the UK with the PG Tips tea advertisements, but Link, also a British production, had other ideas. Although the title character was supposed to be a chimpanzee, he was actually an orang-utan with his fur dyed black, a curious bit of casting until you realise that a chimp of the age he was meant to be would be far too dangerous to place in a film with actors. Thus what you were offered was a sort of evil version of Dunston Checks In.

Just as King Kong had Fay Wray as his leading lady, Link had Elisabeth Shue, playing zoology student Jane (of course) who gets a job with Dr Phillip at his home, mainly as housekeeper but also to study his chimps, hoping it will assist with her learning. This scientist offers her sage advice on how to look after the animals, and more importantly in a plot foreshadowing manner tells her how to ensure she stays safe. But Everett De Roche's script had a beef with evolution, not in a creationist way but with the idea that mankind is at the top of the animal kingdom, so Link does his level best to prove himself more than a match for us.

Giving the best performance in the movie, the orang-utan is a highly amusing creature, suggesting an intelligence behind its eyes which is both sly and cheeky. Once Jane is settled in the country house, she finds that not only is she in the middle of nowhere, but the surrounding landscape is infested with fierce, feral dogs (why is never explained), so when push comes to shove she cannot get away. That meaning when Dr Phillip mysteriously disappears (really - we never find out where he went), she is stranded with the three chimps. One of them is killed, leaving her with young Imp, and of course conniving Link who is drawing up his own plans.

Director Richard Franklin studied with Alfred Hitchcock, and obviously learned a thing or two at the feet of his master, as while this doesn't have the same reputation as some of his other thrillers, it's actually not half bad. The plot may be fairly basic, but he made that contribute to a straightforward suspense piece laced with themes around Link's possible sexual attraction to Jane and his belief (as far as we can tell) that his kind are the superior species. Some of this can prompt laughter, as when Jane is trying to get a van started to escape and Link proceeds to push it towards a cliff edge, and Jerry Goldsmtih's soundtrack sounds as if he thought he was scoring a circus, but this turns out to render the movie more enjoyable, especially as the motives of the story - is it supposed to be funny, kinky or scary? - are as inscrutable as the lead ape. It could be that this was just too offbeat for its own good, but connoisseurs of the unusual in their thrillers will be entertained.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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