Monkey Shines – tape 1333

A bit of cruft on the start of this tape – a Movie Channel ident, quickly replaced by the end titles of something – not really enough information to say for sure.

Then, George A Romero’s Monkey Shines. I saw this in the cinema, but I honestly don’t remember much about it. Let’s see.

There’s some reassurance to start with that this is all just a film.

No Monkeys were harmed

Some gratuitous nudity to start us off. Then our hero, Jason Beghe, goes for a run with a backpack filled with bricks.

Now, for some reason, I’d somehow got confused with The Dark Half, and had thought that this film also starred Timothy Hutton, but I guess Jason Beghe is just as good.

On the other hand, Tom Savini was on Makeup Effects duty, so that’s good.

Beghe’s run doesn’t end well, and he’s hit by a car, and ends up paralysed. But there is a silver lining, as his doctor is played by Stanley Tucci. Well, that might not be a silver lining for the character, but it certainly is for me.

Stanley Tucci

Beghe’s old roommate, John Pankow, is experimenting on Capuchin monkeys, injecting them with human memory cells to increase their learning abilities. You might recognise Pankow as Merc Lapidus in Episodes.

John Pankow

He finds a woman who trains monkeys to assist quadriplegic patients, and persuades her to train his experimental monkey. Beghe and the monkey, now named Ella, get on well – unlike Beghe and the nurse hired to look after him, who seems to treat the job like a penance. I don’t understand why he continues to keep her on, given that he hates her, she hates him, and her budgie continually annoys him. So Ella kills the budgie, and the nurse quits.

Beghe thinks Ella is getting out of the house at night, and he has dreams from Ella’s point of view. They appear to have a telepathic connection.

Beghe isn’t the most contented of quadriplegics. He learns that Doctor Tucci missed a diagnosis that could have meant he wouldn’t be paralysed, and he gets even more angry. When he tries to contact Tucci he learns he’s with his ex-girlfriend. This, not surprisingly, makes him even angrier.

But the monkey trainer, Kate McNeil, likes him, and, while Ella is taken away by Pankow for testing, she and Beghe spend some quality time together, and in one of the creepiest love scenes I can remember, they have sex in her lab where all her monkeys being trained go a bit mad. I don’t think that would be conducive to romance.

There’s apparently a temporary fault on the broadcast, but I can’t tell what they might be talking about. Strange.

Temporary Fault

Pankow decides to inject himself with the human memory tissue, to see if he can get a telepathic connection with Ella. But while he’s messing around in the lab, Ella returns, and electrocutes Beghe’s controlling mother in the bathtub.

Then it’s Pankow’s turn as he gets jabbed with the sedative meant for Ella.

And finally, McNeil returns, but manages to trip and knock herself unconscious, and Ella tries to set her on fire. Thank goodness for flame retardent clothing.

Beghe eventually calms Ella by miraculously moving his hand to turn on some music, then biting her to death. I’m not surprised this movie wasn’t a big hit, after all, who wants to see that?

There’s a fantastic disclaimer at the end.

Work of fiction

“None of the incidents portrayed have ever been recorded in the ten year history of the program.”

Following this, recording continues with a behind the Scenes of Last of the Mohicans.

There’s a UK Top Ten

Behind The Scenes: Single White Female

Then, recording continues with Howling VI – The Freaks. A story of circus folks making their way to Transylvania, acccording to the introduction, but it appears to be set in a small desert town in the US (although being a Howling sequel I’m assuming it’s Australia).

It opens with a young woman running for her life from an unseen terror, and when she finally succumbs, we see she was holding a teddy bear.

A mysterious Englishman (Brendan Hughes) arrives in a small town. He drops a teddy bear on the road as he approaches. This will become a theme.  The local law officer doesn’t want him there, but the local priest offers him a job refurbishing the crumbling church, which he does with aplomb.

Brendon Hughes

Then a local travelling circus arrives in town, led by Harker (Bruce Payne).

Bruce Payne

Our mysterious man, Ian, is in love with the preacher’s daughter, but he has a secret which means they can’t be together – he’s a werewolf. He’s captured by Harker and presented as one of his freaks. I have to say, I’ve seen better transformation effects.

Howling VI effects

And I’m bailing out now. I really couldn’t care less about this – bad werewolf effects and carnival sideshows are two of my least favourite things.

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3 comments

  1. Guess you never watched “Northern Exposure,” since the ex-girlfriend is Janine Turner (although this before that show, and ITV staple “Cliffhanger”).

  2. Monkey Shines is a pretty silly horror movie, but it does feature one positive, a lead character who is physically disabled. How many other Hollywood movies have that from that day to this?

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