Writer/director George A Romero’s, Monkey Shines is a film full of portent and potential, that it never quite lives up to.
Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) has been left bitter and angry by an accident which paralysed him from the neck-down. All this changes when he’s given Ella, a monkey trained to anticipate his every need. But when Ella starts to pick up on Allan’s thoughts and emotions, things quickly spiral out of control—with deadly consequences.
While ostensibly a film about the dangers of tampering with nature, Monkey Shines works on several levels—and how well it works really depends on what you’re looking for in a film with the words Monkey and Romero on the poster. Part thriller, part emotional roller-coaster, part horror, Monkey Shines is at its best when it’s exploring Allan’s emotional inner turmoil, and Ella’s slow rise into a Carrie-esque villain that you feel equally afraid of and sorry for. At its worst, it’s a schlock horror with some pretty cheesy dialogue and a preposterous premise.
Monkey Shines has its moments of pure Romero genius, and moments that would have been best left on the cutting-room floor. But it’s hard to be overly critical of a director of Romero’s calibre and this is film that evokes genuine feelings of unease and horror—without a single zombie in sight.
Eureka!’s new release is the first time that the film has been presented on Blu-ray in the UK and includes a new, exclusive audio commentary with Romero, alternative ending and deleted scenes, and a limited edition collector’s booklet.