A medieval reenactment troupe find it increasingly difficult to keep their family-like group together, with pressure from local law enforcement, interest from entertainment agents and a growing sense of delusional from their leader.
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 our her master's darkest wishes. Written by
David Carroll <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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. See more »
This was the first film role for Stephen Root, then a stage actor. According to Root, he had been instructed by his agent not to let the casting directors know that he was inexperienced with film as an actor. Root's official debut was Crocodile Dundee II (1988), which had been released in theaters a month before this film, despite being shot a month after it. See more »
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 »
Our approaches are quite different. Unfortunately for you, I happen to be the head of the department.
Why don't you fire me then?
I don't want to fire you Geoffrey. I just want you to produce.
You can't fire me can you? You know that if anyone around here is going to strike gold, it's going to be me.
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"Monkey Shines" is an honorable effort that doesn't quite work. It deserves credit for originality, but falls short of the mark.
The concept is interesting, but the execution leaves much to be desired. A paralyzed man's life is made easier with the help of Ellie, a monkey trained to help disabled people get by with their daily lives. However, she used to be a lab animal who has had human brain cells injected in experiments. A bond forms between the two, and she acts out his violent desires.
The final act does a good job in delivering the goods, but the film takes too long to get going, diluting the overall effect. In fact, at times one almost forgets it's supposed to be a horror movie. When it gets going, it works, although the very ending is a bit much.
I'm still not sure the sci-fi gimmick was necessary. Surely they could have done pretty much the same things without it? Something more supernaturally orientated perhaps? Still, I admired Romero's willingness to take chances and try his hand at a more subdued thriller. Jason Beghe does a credible job in the role, and we are offered a rare glance at the frustrations of the disabled. A tighter film would have better achieved the director's goals.
**1/2 (out of ****)
An Orion Pictures release
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