Monday, November 17, 2014

Monkey Shines (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Not Your Average Shakma

After having the chance to enjoy Monkey Shines on 35mm at an Exhumed Horrorthon, I realized that what I had seen growing up was so butchered that it hardly stood the test of what Monkey Shines actually was. That's part of the danger, you know. Growing up watching cut versions of horror films on cable TV; in this instance it was the USA Network. It occurred to me that I was more familiar with the cover box artwork than the movie itself. The large screen surely did wonders from Monkey Shines as did the Scream Factory Blu-ray more recently. I had such a fun time revisiting this picture with a strong underlying sense of humor, suspense and serious animal horror. It's a moral tale, a fable... really it's two separate fables. Hell, Monkey Shines has everything including some scrumptious romance, both monkey and human.

There are moments that completely detract from what might be a very perfect horror morality tale. The accident that causes our protagonist's paralysis looks like something a made for TV movie might have come up with to save a few bucks and not of the origin of a major studio. We know that Orion would fall not too long after Monkey Shines and The Dark Half (also releases by Scream Factory), but this seemed lazy to me. Each time I've watched it, I can't help but laugh rather than feel truly sorry for Allan. I'm glad that Savini stepped in to assist with the effects and non-live animal effects to offer some truly terrifying moments or we might be stuck with a movie filled with unintentional humor and strange, erotic quadriplegic sex (strange only in that I didn't know it was possible).

The traditional cover art is preserved with an alternate version of the famous monkey cover on the reverse. It's really a beautiful transfer. The making of featurette tells a story of George Romero and the inevitable fall of  Laurel that would lead to so many projects going unmade and focused effort on TV movies that gave us The Stand and Langoliers but may have deprived us of a proper Creepshow 3 and alternate universe directorial effort of George Romero behind the lens of Pet Sematary. It's as sad a tale for the artist as any. The effects creation interviews with Nictero and Savini are truly special. Of course the alternate ending is a must watch clip though I enjoyed the ending used theatrically.

Bonus Features include:
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director George A. Romero
  • NEW An Experiment In Fear - The Making Of "Monkey Shines" - An All-New Retrospective With George A. Romero, Stars Jason Beghe And Katie McNeil, Executive Producer Peter Grunwald, Special Make-Up Effects Creator Tom Savini And More!
  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Vintage "Making of MONKEY SHINES" plus additional interview clips
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spot
  • Still Gallery
From the use of traditional music to create strange emotional bonds between audience, man and monkey to Stanley Tucci with as much hair as I've seen him with, this is a fun gem that gets overlooked in the pile of Romero classic features.Romero's next work will be the two story, Two Evil Eyes alongside Dario Argento and then The Dark Half after which his Romero's work will go quietly down the road of the living dead. Scream Factory has successfully create a beautiful release out of a movie that surely wasn't given its due upon its release. Revel in the inspirational tale. Remember not to give monkeys strange injections no matter how good your intentions may be. Always have sex with the hot blond even though you've lost functioning of everything below your neck and remember to tell your overbearing mother to beat it once you've tried a monkey, a nurse and sex kitten on for size. For those of you who haven't had the chance to enjoy Monkey Shines, this is going to be a ride into familiar territory with some original twists and eccentricities that make it pure Romero.

...and just to be fair... at least they didn't give Ella an operation like they gave poor ol' Shakma!

Monkey Shines is available now from Scream Factory:

From Scream Factory:

Allan Mann (Jason Beghe, Chicago Fire) is a bitter, angry and vengeful man ever since an accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. He's fed up with himself and everyone around him. All that changes when he's given Ella, a monkey trained to meet his every need. But when Ella begins anticipating Allan's thoughts, strange and deadly things start happening. And as she stalks and wreaks havoc on Allan's fair-weather girlfriend (Janine Turner, Northern Exposure), incompetent doctor and meddling mother, Allan realizes he must stop the cunning maniacal creature...before she fully takes over his mind!

Kate McNeil (The House On Sorority Row), Joyce Van Patten (Grown Ups), Stephen Root (Office Space), John Pankow (To Live And Die In L.A.), and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games) also star in this riveting thriller from George A. Romero (Night Of The Living Dead)!

1 comment:

  1. Today I watched the blu-ray Monkey Shines with my Aurora Blu-ray player and I like it a lot. Love the monkey and it is lovely.