Bluray Review – Monkey Shines (1988)

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Horror, Drama | USA, 1988 | 18 | 8th October 2018 (UK) | Blu-Ray | Eureka Entertainment | Dir.George A. Romero | Jason Beghe, John Pankow, Kate McNeil, Stanley Tucci, Joyce Van Patten

George Romero, with his films and choosing of certain projects, is at least dependably unpredictable. The genres he works in 99% of the time are in the horror genre, or some bird of it (be it with zombies in his ‘Dead’ films, or more psychological with Martin and the Dark Half). Here he brings us the tale of a once prime athlete confined to a wheelchair and the plucky little monkey who is trained to help him around the house and act as his companion as well as hands and feet. But, of course, things don’t turn out right with what this ‘experiment’ comes forth. It’s like one of those stories you find in those cheap paperback books at the grocery store, only stripped down to bare essentials and given some adrenaline from its filmmaker.

This is a peculiar film to see, which offers brilliance as well as dullness and just plain oddness. Some things about the story make less sense than others as well (as will happen when science becomes important to the story as opposed to more of a MacGuffin). The lead actor, Jason Beghe, is good in the role, but isn’t nearly as convincing in being the after effect of the ‘medicine’ he’s given (as does the Monkey) as he is in being the earnest, nice side of the character. There is even one great supporting performance in cold, hard-pressed form from Christine Forrest (wife and bit player in the films of Romero). 

It’s not meant to be taken very seriously, to be sure, but Romero on the one hand has a kind of sweet (in the ironic sense), interesting story with just the monkey and her master, as the injections start to take its toll on the both of them. On the other hand, he still has to work in this framework of building up more and more.

Special Features

  • New and exclusive feature length audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Audio Commentary with director George A. Romero
  • An Experiment in Fear The Making of Monkey Shines – a lengthy retrospective with George A. Romero, stars Jason Beghe and Kate McNeil, executive producer Peter Grunwald, and special effects legends Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Everett Burrell.
  • Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes footage, original EPK featurette, vintage interviews and news reports
  • Trailers and TV spots
  • A limited edition collectors booklet featuring a new essay by Craig Ian Mann; highlights from the film’s production notes and rare archival material (First Print Run Only)