Thursday, July 8, 2010

Monkeys Down Under: Link

All of us love monkeys, right?  Chimpanzees are great, gorillas are great and orangutans are great too!  In 1985, man's love of all kinds of monkeys was realized with the movie Link.  It stars Karate Kid actress Elisabeth Shue, Superman II star Terrence Zod and an orangutan.  Excuse me, I meant 'chimpanzee.'  You see, this movie dares to confuse our love of monkeys by calling the titular ape a 'chimpanzee,' despite him clearly being an orangutan.  Did you think that just painting the fur black would make it look different?  It's not like the makers of Sheena: The She-Devil did the same thing with horses painted to look like zebras.  One interesting note is that this film was planned to be made in Australia, due to it's director- Richard Franklin- being an Aussie.  However, the funders from down under would, fund it, so he sold the movie to the United Kingdom.  Just skip right past the former prisoners next time, buddy!  I ask you this: how many monkey-centric horror films do you know of that star future Academy Award winners?  I thought as much!  No matter how much this movie might possibly suck, it does feature a dramatic Jerry Goldsmith score.  Get out your delousing cream for my review of...

Our pre-credits sequence involves a P.O.V. shot of a creature running around a city, chasing a cat.  It chases up to a rooftop, passing by an apartment filled with a young family.  The kid is disturbed by the noises, while the parents watch an old movie with a women singing in an ape suit.  Foreshadowing or a pointless use of public domain footage- you decide!  After a cut, we see that the cat is dead (two dead cats in two ape movies?!?), as well as the nesting pigeons nearby.  Oh now, Hillary Swank is going to be pissed about that!  Raise your hand if you get that joke...and then realize how sad your life is.  Anyways, we learn that this was the work of  little chimpanzee who is being studied by an oddly-long-haired Terrence Stamp, who is a professor at a London college.  He discusses the work of Jane Goodall, especially the part about apes going to war with each other.  Link- telling subtlety in foreshadowing to 'suck it!'  A young woman ignores her boyfriend to go talk to the scientist (two times in two ape movies...too?!?), but learns that reading is important.  You see, the scientist needs 'help'...getting semen samples...for something.  He likes the girl's attitude, however, and invites her to help him do his studies at his desolate, far-away house.  Sounds ominous...I mean, nice.

Pretty quickly, our heroine figures out that some weird shit is going down here.  She's greeted by Link, who is a middle-aged "chimpanzee" butler that lives there.  If that's Link and the little chimpanzee did the opening murders, that makes the entire part- completely pointless.  Fun fact: Link lights and smokes his own cigars.  Our heroine is given some advice for her stay: don't get involved in chimp disputes, respect their uncanny strength and also forgive the apes for their transgressions, lest the anger boil over.  How many of those does she follow?  Zero.  Professor Stamp does a test where the little chimp must match patterns in a race against Shue- kind of demeaning towards her, isn't it?  During this, she learns that Stamp is very aggressive with the apes, but only to keep them in line.  Shue is not a fan of this and leaves the room.  Unfortunately for Professor Stamp, the apes rise up against him and kill  How does he talk to Shue and tell her to leave?  How does his car vanish?  Both of those questions will be answered- in time.  Yes, both of these answers will also be really stupid.  Left alone in the house, things don't go well.  For one thing, the chimp that is not Link or the little one is killed.  Oh no, I hardly knew you!  Seriously, what point did you serve?  Link lingers about for a while, always keeping an eye on our heroine.  In the movie's best and worst scene, Link opens the door while Ms. Shue is about to take a bath.  Have you ever seen an orangutan ogle a grown woman?  I thought not!

Things only get worse for our heroine as time goes on.  Link shows some rage issues, especially when a colleague of Stamp's shows up to kill him.  I'd be a bit mad in that case too, honestly.  This monkey shows super-strength, however, breaking the man's gun and nearly tipping over his car (as shown above).  Am I supposed to take this seriously?  After a while, our heroine gets worried and tries to walk to town, only to run into some loose dogs on the plains.  Thankfully, Link shows up to save her...only to try and kill her minutes later.  Finding a back exit, she tries to get away in the oddly-abandoned car of the former colleague, only to have Link push it off of a cliff.  The woman discovers the professor's car in the lake, apparently the work of Link.  After the 'chimp' does a bad deed, she locks it outside, while she plays with the little chimp.  This forces the monkey to rip out the air duct, crawl inside and punch his way through the floors!  Thankfully, our heroine's boyfriend and his two lads arrive to save the day.  By 'save the day,' of course, I mean 'die.'  Oddly, Link leaves the boyfriend alive (right...) so he can chase the pair around.  Eventually, our heroine turns on the gas and tricks Link into lighting it's cigar, setting the house on fire.  The thing wanders around for a bit, climbs to the roof, lights another cigar and dies when the roof collapses.  Don't worry, the real chimpanzee survives.

This movie is...weird as hell.  On one hand, it is a very unique film, choosing to make a slasher film about an orangutan.  The result is a curious film that makes me both afraid of monkeys and more willing to laugh at them too.  On the other hand, the whole thing really hinges upon you being afraid of these things.  To that end, they go out of their way to both make the thing appear evil and appear super-strong.  I'm no ape-biologist, but I seriously doubt that things are as strong as the film makes them appear.  Can they really push cars or up-end trucks?  If so, I'm afraid.  If not, I cry bullshit!  In the film's defense, the work with the apes is really well-done.  As opposed to modern stuff, they never substitute CG (not that they could in 1985) or stuff like that for the real stuff.  This is a really neat thing, but does come with a price.  Pretty much all of the violence is off-screen, since apparently these things could really kill you.  Hell, only one shot- the guy being pulled into a well- uses a very visible dummy!  Was 'Link' too smart to beat up a mannequin or something?  As a horror film, it's a mixed-bag.  It takes a while to get going, but is very intense in the last thirty minutes.  The problem is also the appeal: the monkey stuff.  If you just can't buy the idea of killer apes, you'll just not like this movie at all.  For freaks like me, it's a must-see for pure bizarreness-sake.  Seriously- this is a real movie!

Next up, I take a look at a much-forgotten Stuart Gordon film that features Jeffrey Combs.  Sadly, they substitute zombies for The Inquisition.  Stay tuned...


  1. The other day, I say a woman with a monkey at Walmart....
    No joke -- this woman in a motorized cart actually had a real, live monkey helping her put groceries in a basket. It was wearing a pink outfit, and seemed pretty content with its role as a shopping buddy.

  2. I believe you. I've seen people walking around with trained squirrels- seriously.

    Of course, now you realize that the thing is just waiting for a chance to strike....

  3. That's why I was careful not to get close to it....

  4. The post script to this review cracked me up, why dont we have trained monkies and squirrels here in CA?!

    For some reason I always presumed this film was a foo foo drama like Monkies in the Mist or whatever the hell that Jane Goodhall Sigourney Weaver flick was about. If Id have known it had killer chimpanzeeatangs I would have watched it years ago

  5. Seriously, Carl- you haven't lived until you've seen an orangutan ogle a Hollywood actress. It's...surreal.