Monkey Shines

Watch Monkey Shines

"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."
  • R
  • 1988
  • 1 hr 53 min
  • 6.2  (12,896)
  • 71

Monkey Shines is a 1988 horror-thriller movie directed by George A. Romero, famous for his work on the cult classic Night of the Living Dead. The film is based on a novel of the same name written by Michael Stewart, and it stars Jason Beghe as Allan Mann, an athlete and quadriplegic who receives a trained capuchin monkey named Ella as a companion. John Pankow and Kate McNeil also feature in the movie as Allan's best friend and love interest, respectively.

Allan is introduced to us as a former athlete who has lost the use of his body from the neck down after being hit by a truck while out jogging. The accident has left him bitter, depressed, and increasingly reliant on the help of his caretaker, Maryanne (Christine Forrest). After contemplating suicide, Allan's life takes a turn for the better when his former lab partner Geoffrey (John Pankow) comes to visit him in the hospital and offers to take care of him.

Geoffrey is a scientist who has been conducting experiments on animals aimed at increasing their intelligence. He believes that by injecting human brain cells into monkeys, he can help them become more advanced and, in turn, aid people with disabilities. Allan is initially hesitant about the idea, but after some persuasion from Geoffrey, he agrees to become part of the project.

This is where the movie takes a darker turn. Instead of succeeding in his experiments, Geoffrey ends up creating a homicidal monster in Ella the monkey. After a series of injections, Ella becomes hyper-intelligent and starts to develop a strong bond with Allan. She becomes more protective of him, even attacking those who she perceives as threats to his safety, including Maryanne and Allan's ex-girlfriend.

As Ella becomes more aggressive and dangerous, Allan begins to suspect that something is wrong with her. He seeks help from Melanie (Kate McNeil), a fellow student who has experience with primates, and they discover that Ella is not only hyper-intelligent, but she is also able to communicate with people through sign language.

As the situation becomes more dire, the tension in the movie ramps up, and the already dark atmosphere becomes even more chilling. Ella becomes increasingly obsessed with Allan, and her actions become more violent and unpredictable. There are many close calls with the monkey, as Allan and his friends try to contain her and prevent her from causing any more harm.

The horror elements in the movie are genuinely unsettling, and the performances of the cast are very convincing. Jason Beghe's portrayal of Allan is particularly powerful, as he manages to convey the character's frustration and helplessness. John Pankow is also very good as the obsessed scientist whose experiments have gone awry, and Kate McNeil brings a much-needed touch of humanity to the film as the only person who can help Allan and his friends.

The visual effects in Monkey Shines are impressive, considering the time it was made. The scenes with Ella are particularly well done, as the filmmakers managed to create a sense of realism that is often missing in horror movies that feature animals. The use of practical puppetry and animatronics is particularly effective in creating a sense of danger and suspense.

Overall, Monkey Shines is a horror-thriller that manages to be both thought-provoking and terrifying. The themes of the movie, including the dangers of unchecked scientific experimentation and the price of intelligence, are still relevant today, making it a worthwhile watch for horror fans and anyone interested in thought-provoking movies.

Monkey Shines is a 1988 thriller with a runtime of 1 hour and 53 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.2 and a MetaScore of 71.

Monkey Shines
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 53 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.2  (12,896)
  • Metascore