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Monkey Shines (1988)

Jason Beghe , John Pankow , George A. Romero  |  R |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

Price: $39.74 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Monkey Shines: An Experiment In Fear
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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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792841336
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,682 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Monkey Shines" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes booklet

Editorial Reviews

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!

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 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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9 of 9 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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 tense, psychological horror masterpiece involving a genetically altered lab monkey that becomes psychotic. The real star of this gem is Boo who plays Ella. A nerdy researcher with delusions of grandeur keeps injecting poor Ella with memory cells from a human brain. He then gives her to his best friend who has recently become a quadriplegic. They become co-dependent to the max. Soon the two become psychically linked. As Ella becomes more intelligent, she also becomes more violent. Soon she becomes the arms and legs for her owner and carries out his desire for vengeance against those who have harmed him.

The acting is superb. Jason Beghe ("One Missed Call") gives an excellent performance as the handsome, athletic law student who become angry and bitter because of his crippling accident. Beautiful Kate McNeil ("The Last House on Sorority Row") is very convincing as the energetic, robust trainer of monkeys for the handicapped. Together, Beghe and McNeil are a cute couple; their love scene is very sensual, proving that the handicapped can do most anything. A young Stanley Tucci ("Maid in Manhattan" and "The Devil Wears Prada") is a despicable neurosurgeon; who would've believed how handsome (and muscular) he was when he had hair.

The gore is kept to a minimum. "Monkey Shines" relies heavily on character development and a suspenseful, clever plot in which science has created a literal monster. A quadriplegic becomes trapped within his home by a diabolical beast. "Monkey Shines" is intelligent, well crafted science fiction horror with strong elements of romance and the supernatural.
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5 of 5 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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4 of 4 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Monkey was the best actor and I believe she wrote it
Worth half a star. Monkey was the best actor and I believe she wrote it.
Published 12 days ago by Joe T. Lawrence
3.0 out of 5 stars Damn that monkey!
A man in a wheelchair yells at a monkey. The monkey only sometimes listens. Memorable climactic death scene. 3 stars.
Published 12 days ago by Peter C. Gorman
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
I thought it was an interesting idea, but not very well done
Published 13 days ago by Sabrina L. Schrader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great classic
Published 19 days ago by mario
3.0 out of 5 stars Freaky
Good theme as always from George Romero--but it was a little too freaky for me. I don't care for clown, doll, or monkey horror I guess.
Published 21 days ago by Wibbysart
5.0 out of 5 stars Great thriller!
Watchef this movie as a kid and it scared the hell out of me....this movie is awesome, i recommend this one, much.
Published 3 months ago by The punisher
1.0 out of 5 stars A creature-feature from the late 80's that goes nowhere in ...
A creature-feature from the late 80's that goes nowhere in climax. The accident in the beginning causing the main character to become a handicap is more over-shadowing then the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alissa Nicole Koblentz
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Crazy movie!! Very smart little monkey, wouldn't recommend for children, very action packed.
Published 3 months ago by Linda
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This is a brilliant movie. It gets 4 stars only because you can notice the puppet when he kills Ella. Other than that this is a gem that should be appreciated. Read more
Published 5 months ago by David W. Francis
2.0 out of 5 stars hokey
It was cheesy but like cheesy lol it had a fun story should have been a TV movie lol
Oh boy
Published 5 months ago by jennifer angell
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