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Monkey Shines

62 customer reviews

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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

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes booklet

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 (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792841336
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,839 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Monkey Shines" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. Minutella on 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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alison on September 10, 2000
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 By J. B. Hoyos VINE VOICE on November 14, 2008
Format: DVD
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ERSInk . com on November 25, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Scream Factory continues to showcase their obsession with George A. Romero by releasing another lost treasure from the archives of horror. “Monkey Shines” gets the Blu-ray upgrade and another chance to woo audiences that were either not born or somehow missed out on seeing it all these years. It’s a genre cult classic which earns its title through solid character foundations and excellent pacing.

After an accident leaves him paralyzed from the neck down, Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is a bitter, angry, and vengeful man. His mother is overbearing. A once loyal girlfriend turns his back on him. The doctor he once trusted seems to have ulterior motives when it comes to his well-being and recovery. Everything changes when Allan is given a trained monkey suited to meet his every need. Even if that need possibly leads to tragic accidents which befall those the creature feels threatens its master.

“Monkey Shines” is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. The video is clean and masterfully restored while not losing any of its original “real” film flavor. The surround sound will have the audience looking over their shoulder for a maniacal primate ready to pounce on them. David Shire’s effective musical score accents the action and tension perfectly.

Loads of bonus material for “Monkey Shines” keeps Scream Factory’s reputation as the Kings of Horror Movie Upgrades safe. Audio commentary is provided by Director / Writer George A. Romero. An all-new featurette entitled “An Experiment in Fear – The Making of ‘Monkey Shines’” is found.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2004
Format: DVD
"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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