Monkey Shines (1988)

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.

OK, the movie's kind of weird.

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?


  1. I really liked this film, and I still have it somewhere on VHS. It's got everything. I love the mad scientist character.

    Have you seen Martin, the weird "vampire" tale set in Pittsburgh?

    Or Knight Riders starring Tom Savini?

  2. I've seen the first 20 or so min of Martin... fell asleep watching it when I was like 17 and never finished it, lol. Knightriders I haven't seen at all (nor Bruiser, or Season of the Witch, or the Crazies, or Two Evil Eyes...)

  3. I like Monkey Shines too. The little bugger was cute.

    I'll second Martin and Knightriders. They stand up with Romero's best.

    Don't know if Knightriders would qualify for HMAD, but I can't recommend this one enough. It's one of my favorites from any genre.

  4. This is worth seeing just for the line, "You're a clinical cunt."

  5. Two Evil Eyes is great, and would definitely qualify for HMAD. Both stories are really nicely told, with solid actors and good production values. I frist saw it in a plush cinema in Madrid, just after I'd moved there. It was dubbed into Spanish, which I couldn't speak at the time, but I still thought it was great!

    I agree maybe Knightriders isn't really a horror movie though....

  6. i have season of the witch and i find most people hate it, but i do not mind it so much. also the dark half is just great.

    i don't recall monkey shines as much as i thought i did, i may have to re-watch it; though i remember being young, and the cover was a monkey with cymbal-- much like the stephen king book with the mist-- and i was really scared of it :(

  7. I think they should have ended it with the monkey coming out of his back in surgery. That would have been priceless.

    The monkey was cute....I thought it was the saddest thing when he coaxed her over with the music and she was hugging him, when he killed her doggie style(shaking her around with her teeth).

  8. I was kinda bored by this one, and this is coming from a MAJOR fan of Romero's Dead films. I haven't seen it since it first came out on video though, so another screening may be in order.


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget