In celebration of George A. Romero’s 73 birthday we decided to watch 1988’s Monkey Shines. I haven’t seen this movie since it was released originally and my memories of it were vague. Heck, I didn’t even know it was a Romero film until my friend suggested we watch it due to Romero’s already mentioned birthday. I’m glad I re-watched it.
Monkey Shines is the store of Allen Mann (played by Jason Beghe), a young man in the physical prime of his life who is rendered a quadriplegic when he is hit by a vehicle while jogging. Not taking the transition well, Allen’s friend, Geoffrey Fisher (played by John Pankow), arranges to have one of the monkeys that he’s been injecting with a formula to make more intelligent trained as a helper for Allen. At first this works great. The monkey, now named Ella bonds will Allen immediately and proves herself to be a great assistant and companion.Already bright, it soon becomes apparent (to Allen, at least) that Ella may be even more intelligent than she lets on. He believes that she may be getting out at night and somehow projecting her adventures into his dreams. Allen, too is changing: he becomes more angry and unforgiving. Soon things start happening to the people and things that anger Allen, and the only explanation he can come up with is that Ella is in tune with his thoughts and feelings and is acting on his dark thought. When Allen shares this belief everyone around him just thinks he’s imagining things. Ella works up a significant body count b at the time before anyone finally clues in that it is the monkey.
Back in 1988 when I first saw this film I didn’t really appreciate it, and remember being a little disappointed with the movie. I’m not entirely sure why, but I remember that is how I felt at that time. I don’t know what I was expecting, but perhaps the 18-19 year old me was a dumb-ass.
This movie was pretty damned good, and I definitely suggest it as a watch.
Check out the trailer below: