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.

REVIEW: Link (1986)





Link (1986): D+

“For years man has enslaved the ape. Now the tables have turned!” promises the original subtext on the VHS cover for this mushy simian fecal matter. Not really. There are no enslaved humans in the film. Sorry. The updated DVD cover reads “An Experiment in Terror.” Experiment failed. It’s about as terrifying as most made-for-TV creature features.

Thanks to some unethical and typically arrogant experiments, this ape named Link has super-intelligence. In his spare time, he likes to stalk/torture/kill small animals and commit random, minor acts of arson, like all super-intelligent organisms do. So, it’s no surprise that the professor in charge of the experiments that gave Link his intellect decides Link should be euthanized despite his many years of service as a ridiculous, cigar smoking monkey-butler. Mysteriously, the professor vanishes shortly after making his intentions known like an idiot. I WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.

Link does some charming monkey antics like wearing a tie and smoking. Actually, not “some”; he does A LOT of circus-comedy antics and is wearing cute little monkey outfits for most of the film. These are intended to be consolation moments for the glacial pace of the film, I suppose. “It’s okay nothing has happened in 25 minutes! Link ate a cookie with his foot!” you exclaim as you watch Link alone all by yourself.

He is an orangutan but the filmmakers dye him brown and pretend he is a “chimp.”

They edit together 1st person camera scenes of Link-carnage and footage of him knocking on windows and screeching to make it look like he is actually “turning tables” as promised on the cover. When this timid student fully grasps that Link has killed the professor and has other homicidal tendencies, Link holds her prisoner. For a good chunk of the movie, she is trapped in a house in the remote countryside with a murderous animal lurking around outside, just like the woman trapped in the Pinto in Cujo. All she can do now is wait until Link decides to murder her and juggle some oranges while doing a handstand or something.

While this girl is sniveling and pleading, “Please don’t turn the tables, Link! Please stop this experiment in terror,” Link inspires the other lab monkeys to break free and act like wild assholes like him. There is some full scale monkey-pandemonium, or rather, random shots edited together to create the illusion of an ape-revolt. Not enough poop-throwing in my opinion, which brought the film down from an A to a D.

I have to give the movie this: There some funny-as-fuck kills. My favorite is when Link rips some guy’s arm off through the mail slot.

I won’t say exactly how it happens, but Link suffers a long fall into a flaming abyss at the end of the flick. The effects for this are totally fucked; it is ANIMATED. Like, a cartoon. Link’s cartoon silhouette rotating in slow motion as it descends into a pit of fire looks like a scene from Disney’s Fantasia. Check out the image for this review and you’ll see what I mean. There is a “twist” at the end that you’ll see coming from miles away. I’ve smelled farts with more mystique and integrity.

You can watch the whole film for free on Youtube if your curiosity is just that morbid.