Monkey Shines

The make such a cute couple, dont they?

Monkey Shines is cool. Sure, there are more descriptive words out there undoubtedly, but I’m feeling simple today so cool it is. George Romero directed this intriguingly unique horror film, and in doing so took a break from zombies and government conspiracies. I’ve told people before that Monkey Shines isn’t so much a horror film as a solid film with horror elements. Meaning that most people, in my opinion, will probably like this film regardless of their preferences – horror fans will like it along with the classy cinema types. It’s mutually cool to both sides of the coin.

After stretching naked, Allan goes for a run. He is smacked by a car and becomes a quadriplegic. His girlfriend leaves him for his Doctor. His scientist friend hooks him up with a hot monkey trainer and a “borrowed” monkey. Allan struggles with adapting to life as quadro. The monkey becomes his helper. The monkey is fun to watch. The monkey is super smart. The monkey gets into Allan’s brain and begins acting out his most evil thoughts.

Yeah, I simplified the heck out of it. There is actually a tremendous amount of character development. Watching Allan struggle with his new condition at least seems realistic. It’s both touching and sad at times. You feel for the guy. He had it all taken away from him. Though, I didn’t feel the guy playing Allan (Jason Beghe) was all that convincing. Sometimes he seemed to force emotion, but overall he did an admirable job. Heck, he was only allowed to convey his thoughts through some head bobbles, speech and poorly applied fake beard. Seriously, I’ve seen better fakes on 16 year-olds trying to buy beer from the liquor mart.

As Allan’s partnership with the monkey grows he slowly makes a comeback. He begins to date the hot monkey trainer and enjoy life once again. Of course, the monkey no likey another woman up in her business messin’ with her man. Up until this point, the film played out mostly as drama. Romero had enough of that, though, and flips the switch – time to get the horror on. It is still a Romero flick after all.

Ella, as the monkey is called, begins to act out Allan’s aggressive thoughts on his behalf. She lights a house on fire here, eats a bitchy nurse’s bird there. It’s all good until Allan cops a conscious. This is where the true horror and fun lies witihin Monkey Shines. The last 10 minutes or so are, as I said earlier, cool. It’s gruesome, tense, and ridiculous all at the same time.

It’s like George Romero took a depressing “Man overcoming obstacles” drama and rewrote the last act with the goal of creating the craziest shit possible. He accomplishes just that by throwing in the murderous monkey. When I think about it, Monkey Shines truly has it all: character development, love triangles, cripples, fake beards, and killer monkeys. Three of those items are magic to my viewing ears. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the first two.

Snore Factor: ZZ

IMDB 1988


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