Horrortoberfest 2014: Day 6 – Monkey Shines (1988)


This is my sweet reward for putting up with this week’s malarkey. I get an honest to god well done horror movie. Directed by George Romero, effects from Tom Savini, and Stanley Tucci gets to be a smug fucking doctor. It’s actually kind of amazing it has taken this long for me to get around to finally watching this. I remember wanting to see this forever but it just never happened for some reason. Perhaps past me knew future me was going to need a break from all the god awful shit I have putting myself through for no reason.

So this movie opens with a shot of our happy couple, Sideboob and Manbutt. They love life. They love each other. Most of all, he loves the use of his legs. So of course he gets hit by the irony truck, becomes paralyzed from the neck down and he deteriorates until he looks like Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3. His girlfriend leaves him for the surgeon that operated on him, he gets a shrew of a nurse, and his mother is smothering him. If only there was some way that he could be more independent. Enter Ella, a buddy’s lab monkey that gets trained to be a helper monkey. Also she is psychically linked to Allan (Manbutt). Which you would think would be super useful and in no way conducive to her freaking out and killing people. But you would be wrong. Dead wrong.

The movie is actually a pretty good exploration of the desperation, depression, and anger that can come with accidents like that. You can want to lash out and anyone or anything and Allan just happens to have a genetically altered, psychic monkey to do the lashing out for him. Ella ends up representing how we can sometimes cling to our misery. The more he is around her, the more he becomes spiteful and wallows in his anger. He even ends up getting pronounced canines whenever he lets his animal side begin to take over. In the end scene he tries to push everyone that cares about him away in order to protect them and it feels very much like he would have been doing that even if there wasn’t a killer monkey.

I know I complained a lot about boring movies and it’s reassuring to know that it isn’t just because my tiny, American brain has been trained to need constant exciting things happening. This movie has a runtime of about 2 hours, making it the longest movie for the theme, but it also never felt like I was just watching filler. Everything had some reason to be shown and, up until the last third of the movie, it’s mostly just a character study of a paraplegic and his cute monkey pet. Even the horror moments end up being much more about Allan than anything else as it shows him grappling with his emotions and the guilt that he might be behind all of the death and injury around him. We also get a wonderful contrast where Allan talks about animal instinct being the devil but in the final scene he tells Ella that he is going to win because he is a human which makes him able to be more devious. Which ends up being true, since he uses Ella’s love for him as a way to kill her. Das fukked up.

I’d give the movie a 3.5 out of 5 and I’m just so goddamn glad to be done with this week and ending it on a high note. It’s not a super spooky, scary horror film at its core but it is pretty good.

Favorite thing in the movie: The monkey “chestburster” scene.

Least favorite thing: The motherfucker ends up being able to walk at the end. What is this horseshit?

2 responses to “Horrortoberfest 2014: Day 6 – Monkey Shines (1988)

  1. Haha, the first tag in this is so appropriate. The biggest thing I remember about this movie, aside from the psychic monkey, is the part where Manbutt eats out a woman in a rather gratuitous sex scene. I think that was the first time I’d ever seen that when I was a kid, so it obviously left an impression on me.

    • Yeah, that was way more graphic than I thought it would be. Normally stuff like that is super under the covers or just *wink wink nudge nudge* but she straight up just straddles his face and goes to town.

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