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Monkey Shines (1988)

Jason Beghe , John Pankow , George A. Romero  |  R |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

Price: $27.00 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jason Beghe, John Pankow, Kate McNeil, Joyce Van Patten, Christine Forrest
  • Directors: George A. Romero
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 1999
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792841336
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,287 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Monkey Shines" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes booklet

Editorial Reviews

George A. Romero monkeys with nature in this gripping and fearful tale based on the novel by Michael Stewart. Allan Mann (John Beghe) is a law student who's hit by a truck while jogging, leaving him a quadriplegic. Luckily, his scientist friend Geoffrey (John Pankow) is experimenting with capuchin monkeys, making them smarter with injections of human genetic material. Geoffrey arranges with Melanie (Kate McNeil)--who's working on an experimental program that matches monkeys with paraplegics to perform guide-dog functions--to train his prize subject, Ella (Boo), to act as Allan's helper. Allan is paralyzed from the neck down, confined to a wheelchair he moves by working a lever with his mouth. He's really vulnerable. Ella can fetch things and do errands, and a real emotional bond develops between Mann and monkey. Too strong a bond, it turns out, as Allan begins to experience dreams from the monkey's-eye view (capuchin-cam), Ella's boosted intelligence giving her the residual benefit of a telepathic ability in which the monkey begins to act out Allan's subconscious rage. Allan's nurse, former girlfriend, doctor, even his mother are terrorized by the creepy capuchin, leading to a showdown between Ella and Allan himself. With Allan trapped in a house, alone with a super-intelligent and malevolent monkey, there is plenty of suspense to make you rip holes in your upholstery. But perhaps even more tension could have been wrung out of this story if Ella had been more sympathetic (being as she was the victim of a scientific experiment gone bad), her wicked antics the acts of a kind of exterminating angel. Performances are brilliant by both Ella and Jason Beghe, who turns in one of cinema's most accurate and intelligent depictions of a high-level quadriplegic character. --Jim Gay

Product Description

From writer/director George Romero, the man who unleashed Night of the Living Dead, comes a 'terrific psychological thriller (L.A. Weekly) that delivers a disturbing message about messing with Mother Nature. Starring Jason Beghe ( Melrose Place ) and Janine Turner ( Northern Exposure ), this riveting tale is a white-knuckle triumph [that doesn't] let up (Newsweek)! Allan Mann (Beghe) is a bitter, angry and vengeful man ever since an accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. He's fed up with himself and everyone around him. All that changes when he's given Ella, a monkey trained to meet his every need. But when Ella begins anticipating Allan's thoughts, strangeand deadly things start happening. And as she stalks and wreaks havoc on Allan's fair-weather girlfriend (Turner), incompetent doctor and meddling mother, Allan realizes he must stop the cunning maniacal creature...before she takes over his mind!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Psychological Thriller.... April 7, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Yes, fans of George Romero who believe he's only capable of creating zombie/gore films and are looking for cheap thrills will likely be disappointed in this film; others who appreciate razor-sharp suspense, well-defined characters, and the fascinating thin line between man and animal will love this spellbinding thriller. A wheelchair-bound man who is sufffering from depression gets a scientifically altered monkey as a companion and helper...suddenly the man develops a renewed interest in life when the monkey steals his heart. But before long, science has hindered the progression of nature, and the monkey starts acting on its own animal instincts, ensnaring the man in a psychological battle of wills. The final half hour is edge-of-your-seat riveting; Romero did a splendid job balancing the drama and shocks with a fascinating insight in teh relationship between man and beast. "Monkey Shines" is, simply put, a classic suspense film, and most highly recommended for fans of quality cinema.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monkey Shines September 10, 2000
By Alison
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
From a purely animal training perspective this movie is brilliant. Romero did a great job directing these 6, 10 pounds capuchin monkeys to look like 1 monkey did the job. Much harder than Lassie and Flipper.The editing was also very slick. Watch the movie from a technical POV and see if you can find the different monkey faces, bodies and also puppets used in the more intense scenes.
I trained them all and was very proud of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Show me the monkey! January 28, 2005
Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) had a bright and promising future. He had a beautiful girlfriend. He was physically fit. All of that is taken away from him in the blink of a headlight, when Allan gets run down by a truck and is left a bitter, hopeless quadriplegic. He loses all zest for life until a sprightly Capuchin monkey named Ella (played by Boo) enters his world. She's been trained to do everything for him, but soon she starts to read his mind... And what's in Allan's mind isn't very nice. Still, Ella is determined to fulfill her beloved master's every wish: Allan think, monkey do.

As someone who is not enamored of Romero's zombie flicks, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Yes, it's hokey here and there, but it never fails to entertain.

Based upon the novel Monkey-shines, by Michael Stewart.

Staci Layne Wilson
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the forgotten gems of the 80's April 21, 2004
By A Customer
"Night of the Living Dead" fanatics will disagree, but in my opinion "Monkey Shines" represents George Romero at the top of his game. (Okay, I love "Creepshow", too.) It is one of the most well-crafted suspense movies I have ever seen. It takes a potentially ludicrous scenario and knocks your socks off with it. A quadriplegic law student named Alan (excellently played by the underrated actor Jason Beghe), develops a psychic bond with his nurse-maid monkey, Ella. Alan understandably has a short temper and no sense of humor about his condition; he's not aware, however, that the confused but well-meaning Ella has been acting upon his violent revenge fantasies. It all comes to a head one dark and stormy night when Ella finally goes over the edge and menaces her master endlessly, despite vain rescue attempts by his pals.
How many ways can a little monkey torment a grown man? Plenty, it turns out, if you can't move like Alan. His claustraphobia and terror are wonderfully and effectively splashed across the screen by both Beghe and Romero's camera. The supporting cast, especially the two actors playing his overbearing mother and his best friend Geoffrey (forgive me, I can't remember their names at the moment), is superb. And if the suspense-packed final 30 minutes of this movie don't give you goosebumps a-plenty, you'd better check your pulse.
A couple flaws:
1. An overly cheesy ending preceded by a lame "final scare" (which I hear was forced upon Romero by the studio).
2. A bizarre sex scene which induces either head-scratching confusion or incredulous laughter.
3. The whole "mad scientist" aspect of the plot: WHY exactly does Geoffrey's intelligence-boosting potion wind up linking Ella to Alan psycically? Not explained.
But these flaws are far from fatal. They can be easily ignored, in favor of the immense enjoyment factor of the movie as a whole. Spooky, suspenseful, and frequently touching, it's a great "popcorn" movie. Bravo, George!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing! August 3, 2000
This is one of those unknown movies that you will be pleasantly (due to its quality, not its theme!) surprised by.
The director does not resort to gore or silly tricks (no sudden pigeons, no cats being thrown into frame) to create a truly disturbing and frightening atmosphere, as he gradually shows the protagonist becoming more and more absorbed by his "problem"...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monkey Shines DVD. April 18, 2000
This Film has never looked better!This is what DVD does Best. Great transfer of this very effective film. This George A.Romero film deserves to be seen and added to suspense film collections. Kraig
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Educational and Enjoyable Film. October 7, 2011
Viewed: 10/11
Rate: 7

10/11: If Monkey Shines could be a drama film about a capuchin monkey helping a quadriplegic instead of the horror rubbish I just saw, it could have been a real winner. Regardless, it was not a bad film at all as it was a cross between Born on the Fourth of July and The Brood. The last half hour dragged a lot for me. The first 45 minutes or so were pretty good to see because the premise was very interesting to see, something I've not seen before. Moreover, the acting by the cast was very good and convincing. What I liked about the film were the underlying psychological issues. I actually thought that George Romero was a one-hit wonder, but he did extremely well with Monkey Shines. All in all, I enjoyed watching Monkey Shines, and don't worry, the animal abuse is practically non-existent.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
This movie is definitely worth watching if you've never seen it. Though it's an older movie it was way ahead of it's time in graphics and storyline.
Published 12 months ago by Moviewatcher
4.0 out of 5 stars Monkey Shines is creepy
Good movie to watch in a dark room on a stormy night - bizarre - I bought this as a joke for someone (they rented a furnished house where all the decor had monkeys on it! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mel from Jersey
5.0 out of 5 stars Works on so many levels!
One of my favorite movies of all time! Honestly, this movie works on many different levels, and can satisfy most audiences depending on their mindset. Overall, not very scary... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Aaron Rosenthal
3.0 out of 5 stars I don't know if I would buy this movie?
This movie could not be classifide as a horror film. More of a bizzare drama, which will not leave you with nightmares. Read more
Published on May 3, 2011 by Pumpkin Toss
5.0 out of 5 stars And I became a little monkey! A little monkey!
Why does the Super Bowl start so late? To give people a chance to get a B in of course. The choice was clear once we realized George Romero directed Monkey Shines. Read more
Published on February 24, 2011 by Sid the Elf
5.0 out of 5 stars Monkeu Shines DVD Review
I just finished watching Monkey Shines with my Mother and my Nephew and I must say we were very entertained. The character Ella the monkey was off the chain!!!! Read more
Published on October 30, 2010 by beautiful1965
5.0 out of 5 stars Once...
Once there was a man,
Whose prison was a chair,
The man had a monkey,
They made the strangest pair,
The monkey loved the man,
Climbed inside his head,... Read more
Published on June 2, 2009 by Charlie Tips
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise mangled horribly
The first half hour of this movie is actually very promising. It lays the groundwork for an interesting psychological thriller based on the impotence and rage a male quadraplegic... Read more
Published on January 31, 2009 by Mike
3.0 out of 5 stars Genius Romero momentarily evolves into a primitive Hollywood monkey
Sorry George, I love ya, but what happened? Monkey Shines has an incredibly intelligent and unique premise. Read more
Published on November 14, 2008 by C. Christopher Blackshere
4.0 out of 5 stars Man's Best Friend Is A Dog; His Worst Enemy Is A Genetically Altered...
Hard to believe that the man who directed zombie horror fests such as "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead," and "Day of the Dead" would bring us "Monkey Shines" - a... Read more
Published on November 14, 2008 by J. B. Hoyos
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