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Monkey Shines (1988)

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.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Christine Forrest ...
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William Newman ...
Tudi Wiggins ...
Tom Quinn ...
Chuck Baker ...
Ambulance Driver
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Party Guest
David Early ...
Anesthetist
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Storyline

When Allan becomes a quadriplegic he loses all hope for living until he meets Ella - a monkey trained to fetch and carry for him around the house, obeying him in all things. But Ella is part of another experiment, and when she starts responding to Allan's underlying rage and frustration she has the ability to carry out her master's darkest wishes. Written by David Carroll <davidc@atom.ansto.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Once, there was a Man whose prison was a chair. The Man had a Monkey; they made the strangest pair. The Man was a prisoner; the Monkey held the key. No matter how he tried, the Man couldn't flee. Locked in his prison, terrified and frail; the Monkey wielding power, keeping him in jail. The Man tried to keep the Monkey from his brain, but every move he made became the Monkey's gain. The Monkey ruled the Man; it climbed inside his head. And now, as fate would have it, one of them is dead. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

29 July 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ella  »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$5,344,577 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was George A. Romero's first studio film. However, the studio he was working with, Orion Pictures, had re-cut the film against Romero's wishes which contributed to the box office failure of the film. Afterwards, Romero went back to independent filmmaking until The Dark Half (1993) (also from Orion). See more »

Goofs

Ella urinates on Allan as a sign of mating, but it's actually the male capuchin who urinates on it's mate. This would suggest that Ella is in fact a male capuchin. See more »

Quotes

Maryanne Hodges: You killed my Bogey!
Dorothy Mann: Maryanne, I think you're confused.
Maryanne Hodges: Not with his hands. He had his little demon do it for him.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in School of the Dead (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Ain't We Got Fun
Written by Richard A. Whiting (as Richard Whitting), Ray Egan (as Raymond B. Egan) and Gus Kahn
Performed by Peggy Lee
Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
Under license from Capitol Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Monkey Shines (1988)
13 December 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

George Romero does an excellent job of swapping Zombies for Monkeys. This film may sound ridiculous in the most preposterous way. But then again, we now live in a world of Snakes on a Plane and Burning Bright, so this is a little easier to swallow. In its genre, it is one of the best examples, and I'm not just talking about killer animals. I'm also referring to the stalker/obsessive partner/friend genre.

What Romero does brilliantly, is to take a number of characters and the audience on a journey of emotions and self discovery. For example, I started off wanting one of these monkeys. The relationship built up is a genuinely loving one. It's really cute, and this could easily be one of those lifetime inspirational movies. If the monkey wasn't a genetically modified, telepathic, homicidal, psycho monkey. The well trained monkey takes us from tragic victim of experiments, to a loving carer. We get a wonderful cleaning montage, as the monkey helps the friendship expands. The monkey's obsession grows steadily. It starts off with a few temper tantrums and escalates into bananas in the slippers. Soon bananas turn to murder. It's the evolution of all species.

None of this would work if it wasn't for a dramatic human connection. Beghe is a law student/athlete that is paralysed. He goes through acceptance, denial, frustration, which is understandable as his girlfriend leaves him for his doctor (a sleazy Tucci), he gets a patronizing nurse, and then his overbearing mother. It's great to see how the characters react to Beghe's quadriplegia, as it enforces Beghe's later anger. Beghe also does a terrific job of facial acting, which is most important as he can't use his body. In a single look he can convey the embarrassment of his mother having to wash him.

On the surface, this is a story of a monkey being a bitch to a cripple. But look deep down, REAAAAAAALLY deep, and you'll see a social commentary. For a long time, the monkey is the only one that treats Beghe as an equal. It doesn't throw money at his problem, try and cheer him up, nor can the monkey do everything for him.

Romero fills the film with dread, absurdity, and most of all a serious edge that clearly does the film justice. It's easy to mock this film. But the truth is, this could actually happen. Monkeys are creepy and untrustworthy.


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