Monkey Shines (1988)
Starring: Jason Beghe, John Pankow, Kate McNeil,
Stephen Root Stanley
Directed by: George A. Romero
Tagline: Once there was a man whose prison was a chair. The man had a monkey, they made the strangest pair. The monkey ruled the man, it climbed inside his head. And now as fate would have it, one of them is dead.
Running time: 113 Minutes
Quick summary (from IMDB): A quadriplegic man has a trained monkey help him with his paralysis, until the little monkey begins to develop feelings, and rage, against its new master.
That tagline is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. It’s even better when you hear it in the voice-over for the trailer. The rhyming, the fact that it gives away the entire plot of the film, everything. It’s just a disaster. And it’s perfect.
It’s easily the best thing about this movie, which is just a terribly boring and unscary “horror” movie. The second best thing about this movie is the sex scene. Because Allan, the main character, is a quadriplegic. It’s uncomfortable to watch and I couldn’t help but wander what the point was. I mean, he can’t feel anything below his neck, and it can’t be as enjoyable as the woman makes it out to be. I think somebody saw the swing bar he uses to get out of bed and thought “that would be perfect for a sex scene!” and then there was a sex scene.
I probably knew that George Romero directed this movie at some point in my life, but either blacked it out or forgot. It’s not about zombies, so I just figured it was some random '80s horror director. Romero is great at zombie movies, and he should probably only write and direct those movies. Apparently there was an issue with the studio, and they ended up editing this movie in a way that wasn’t in line with what Romero was gunning for. I don’t know that any editing magic or shuffling of scenes could have saved this movie. That sex scene would probably still be there, and anytime the monkey attacks someone, it’s very clearly a stuffed animal they are shaking around and pretending to fight off. And no amount of editing can fix the terrible acting.
Outside of a young Stanley Tucci and one of the first film appearances of Stephen Root, I didn’t recognize a single actor in the cast. And they were all pretty bad. I think Boo, the monkey who played Ella, was the best actor in the cast. I don’t know how a monkey could out-act professional actors, but it happened.
Back when I worked at Hollywood Video, I’d see this in the Horror section and skip it every single time. Nothing about it looked interesting to me, and I figured I’d never watch it, and I was fine with that. But then Paul Scheer and co at How Did This Get Made? picked it for their podcast, and I decided to jump at the chance to watch it and review it so I could listen along as they tear it apart. I’m pretty bad about staying current with the podcast, and usually don’t catch what the movie is going to be until it’s already out, so I was pumped to be able to actually watch this one for free on Netflix ahead of the episode.
There are a few funny moments, but they’re not intentional. And they aren’t that funny. This is just a terrible movie. I wanted it to be enjoyable, but it was so boring and stupid that I couldn’t bring myself to like it.
0 out of 5 stars