REVIEW: Shakma (1990)

You DO NOT want to see what he is doing with his hands.

You DO NOT want to see what he is doing with his hands.

Shakma: F

Some teenaged nerds all work together in a lab carrying out experiments to genetically modify apes and give them super-intelligence, strength, and agility, which always turns out to be a great idea in every horror movie I have ever seen. The teens are strangely cheery and self-absorbed as they work to decode baboon genomes while acting like they are characters from Saved by the Bell. One ape, Shakma, almost murders a guy, so they put poor Shakma down with (what appears to be) lethal force and wheel his unattended corpse into an empty room with an unlocked door. Another great idea.

The professor who runs this operation is a real piece of shit. He wears a bowtie and corsage and never for one single second ponders the ethics behind his chimp-enhancement experiments; he is always diddling around on his computer, swiveling around in his office chair, and pontificating like a wannabe Bill Nye the Science Guy. More like Bill Jerk the Science Jerk, right? “Making great progress on these homicidal genetically modified apes today! Everything sure is swell! Science is marvelous!”

One day, instead of devoting a single thought to the hubris and absolute stupidity behind heading a program that is essentially a murderous super-ape factory, the professor decides to close shop early and conduct a live-action role playing game with his staff, which he will be overseeing as the Dungeon Master. This involves walkie-talkies, motion sensor technology, and eventually, a bloodthirsty Shakma (nope, he is not dead). What could go wrong?

The teens wander around the building all night as pawns in the professor’s RPG and eventually, recipients of Shakma’s vindictive maulings. Shakma fucks some shit up and it is not pretty. I don’t mean the carnage, I mean it looks lame. There are quick shots of what is basically baboon stock footage edited into longer shots of the teens being molested by a baboon hand puppet (I wish I was making the puppet thing up). There are no shots where Shakma and the actors are in the frame together and the illusion that they are is fucking flimsy at best.

They got an actual baboon for the movie and IMDB claims that the filmmakers were able to capture some great shots of Shakma going apeshit by putting a female baboon in heat nearby. I believe it. Watch the movie; pretty much every time Shakma is banging on a door or window, he has a giant red-rocket boner.

Man, I wonder what was going through that director’s head when he told the crew “Hey, today, I want to get some shots of the baboon getting mad, so we need to work together to give him a boner and get him really frustrated.”

If that sounds appealing to you, teens thinking they are playing a version of Dungeons & Dragons as they get killed by a super-ape that never spears in the same shot as them, then I don’t really know what to say to you.

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