Saturday, May 21, 2011

Killer Mammal Week: Blood Monkey

Don't you know you've got to shock the monkey?!?  To close out Killer Mammal Week, I bring you a film from Maneater Series.  Ironically, the series' logo (see below) is taken from the cover of Welcome to the Jungle, a film that is not part of that series (and is actually a rip-off of Cannibal Holocaust).  This series is just a bunch of 'animals kill people for various reasons' movies that don't actually relate in any way.  It's kind of like calling all of the slasher films from the 1980s the Stabbing Series!  So what is the film about?  Essentially, 'Salieri' takes a bunch of students out to find a rare breed of monkey...that kills.  As a low-budget, Direct-to-DVD film, you pretty much know what you're getting here.  However, the movie has one devious trick up its sleeve.  Curious?  Read on as we prepare to avoid being pissed on by the...
The film begins with some random people in the jungle.  They are trying to catch a mysterious ape at the behest of 'Salieri'/Castro.  Unfortunately, they are The Characters Who Die At the Beginning of the Movie, so they...die at the beginning of the movie.  After that, 'Castalieri' decides that this is not the end!  To that non-end, he brings in a bunch of students, tells them very little about what's going on and tosses them in the jungle with him.  Our cast includes the usual stock characters like Jock Guy, Nerd Girl, Final Girl and Nerdy Guy.  They are about as one-dimensional is that.  The only character with depth is 'Salietro' and his Asian assistant.  Is he crazy?  Is she?  Are they sleeping together?  You really want to know, don't you?  Instead of focusing on that, the movie just has them wandering around.  Oh yeah, they haven't shown the apes yet.
Tensions heat up and questions are raised.  For example, 'Castrieri' tells them that nobody has been there before, but there is a camp already built...and deserted.  One of the girls says that she wants to leave, so the henchwoman grabs her during the night, drags her away from camp and leaves her to be killed by the titular monsters.  That's a harsh response when a simple 'no' would have sufficed!  Also, what was the point of 'feeding' the apes?  The group wander about more and question whether or not F. Murray Abraham is crazy. The guy carries an M-16 with him at all times, so yeah, he might not be.  Still not apes, by the way...
The high point of the film comes when the apes (off-screen) piss all over the tents our heroes are in, which they think is the rain.  No, really.  As a bonus, the apes bring an ironic context to the 'don't piss on my head and tell me that it's raining!'  More of the group get picked off by the apes due to flash editing and a cameraman who refuses to show the action.  Thanks for that.  The group gets whittled down to just our Final Girl and Jock Guy, who try to flee back to the plane.  You do remember how you climbed down a cliff to get here right?  The film veers into Cannibal Holocaust territory (finally, the Maneater Series logo makes sense!) as our two heroes wander through a cave and film the whole thing.  After 80 minutes of build-up, we get...ten seconds of a CG ape seconds before the end credits.  Ugh.  The End.
Why do I bother?  The plot of this movie honestly had potential, but the execution sucked!  The idea of super-smart, killer apes is goofy...but it could work.  Unfortunately, they decided/realized that they couldn't show the apes & improvised.  As such, we are left to be scared by the idea of the apes.  That's interesting, I guess, but the whole movie is designed to make you want to see the apes!  They build them up, even showing a skull at one point to demonstrate how they are differently-evolved.  Of course, the final result contradicts that, as the ape appears to be pretty average.  Evolutionary-Marvel, my ass!  Quite frankly, the apes aren't even that smart- the people are just dumb.  They go into the ape's environment, wander around aimlessly and never cover their tracks.  I'm pretty sure that I could have picked these guys off one-by-one!  The bottom line- this movie is a giant tease.  On top of that, what they finally show sucks!  I have to simply ask this- why, F. Murray- why?!?
Up next, Instant Foreign Week begins with a Finnish film (for real this time!).  The plot involves kung-fu, time-travel and a magic box.  Stay tuned...

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