NOVEMBER 12, 2007
While Dawn of the Dead is one of my favorite all time movies (not just horror) and I pretty much love the shit out of the other four in the series, I have seen relatively few of Romero’s other films. I saw Dark Half as a kid, don’t remember a damn thing about it (future HMAD entry!), and obviously I've seen Creepshow, but otherwise I’ve somehow missed everything else. And my desire to watch something that might actually be good led to finally taking in a viewing of Monkey Shines, which I bought a while back and never watched until now.
It’s a bit too long, but otherwise it’s a really solid, creepy film. Everyone knows monkeys will eventually kill us all, so to see one slowly go nuts and take out the close friends and family of one crippled dude is as terrifying as it is prophetic. Plus, the damn thing is so cute (the part where the monkey turns off the lights so the guy is forced to stop reading and pay attention to her is ridiculously lovable), even when it’s killing folks I’m still going “Awwwww” every 5 minutes.
Lots of they-weren't-yet familiar faces in this one too (it came out in 1988). Stanley Tucci plays an oily prick of a doctor (his reaction to being introduced to the main guy’s coach is pretty priceless), Stephen Root shows up as a rival scientist, and Janine Turner (mmm) plays the main dude’s girlfriend, who leaves him for Tucci and, obviously, is immolated by a primate for her actions.
The only thing I didn’t like about the film was the music. It usually seems to contradict the scenes it accompanies. For example, during the suspenseful and freaky climax, the score suggests romantic comedy more than anything else. Maybe this is an intentional joke, but if so it doesn’t really work.
It’s a shame Romero didn’t get to make more films in his prime, as he was always the victim of projects falling apart (usually for financial reasons) just before production was due to begin. He’s always been one of the genre’s more intelligent and interesting filmmakers, which of course, is probably why many of his films failed at the box office (including this one). The DVD is bare bones, of course, but I still recommend it.
What say you?