Top 10 Murderous Monkey Movies!
As you must know by now, Matt Reeves' DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES launches its full-out assault on the masses today. And you know what? Little Caesar looks more vengeful than a wronged Game of Thrones character, doesn't he? Just a seething caldron of primal rage, that little f*cker is! But hey, no biggie, it's hardly the first time we've seen a psychotic simian with a lust for human blood in movies. In fact, over the years, there have been a good number of horror joints featuring a pissed-off primates with a penchant for human blood. Don't believe us? Well then, you're about to be taken back to school early. Ladies, gents, kiddies, elders...to help you prep for DAWN OF THE APES this weekend...peep our Top 10 Killer Monkey Movies above!
I remember seeing CONGO in the theater with a homey when we are about 12 years old, and even then coming out thinking, man, what a flaming pile of monkey-poop! The only thing I can remember about the flick now, almost 20 years later, is how slimy and unlikeable Tim Curry's character was, and his necessarily commensurate death scene as a result. Other than that, I was bored as hell. But be that as it may, nothing changes the fact that, because of Curry's self-interested character, the gorillas in the film end up revolting against the human presence, despite the good intentions early on. Honestly, if you want to enjoy this story in the way you deserve, go read the solid Michael Chrichton novel on which it's based...per usual...it's light years ahead of the film.
Capitalizing on the 1968 success of both NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and PLANET OF THE APES, or at least intending to, was the cheap Mexican exploitation horror joint from '69 called NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES. Ever hear of such a curious import? Well, it's also said to be an attempted remake of the 1962 film CORDONA'S DOCTOR OF DOOM, though I'll admit, I've never heard of that flick. No matter, all you really need to know is that, at one point, in order to cure his son's leukemia, a mad scientists attempts the very first ape-to-human heart transplant. As you can guess, shit backfires and soon the son morphs into a deformed, mutated furry ape-man with a drive to eat and fuck anything in his path. Shite gnarly!
Competing for most recondite mention on our list is the little known 1986 docu-horror flick IN THE SHADOW OF KILIMANJARO. Ever see it? Based on the real events that took place in Kenya in 1984, in which, due to a massive continental drought, some 90,000 starving baboons went on a countrywide death march...in effect trampling, slaughtering and feasting on anything that happened to get in their way...humans, other wild animals, whatever. It's a truly terrifying premise, realized with remarkable logistics by director Raju Patel. There's a scene in the flick when hundreds of baboons are unleashed down a mountainside in order to ravage a small village, and it basically looks as if we're watching a NatGeo doc. Shite's legit!
Holy hell! Anyone seen the baleful baboon B-movie called SHAKMA from 1990? Whoa...this shite's out of control. First off, if you're wondering, the title Shakma refers to Chakma, a subspecies of baboon that is featured prominently in the flick. In what capacity, you may ask? Well, after a series of medical experiments go awry - the fevered, ruddy-eyed baboon goes on a ballistic feeding-spree through a downtown high-rise. Shite's like a poor man's THE RAID meets DEMONS 2, only with a hyper-cranked up simian rushing full speed ahead, slamming its head against walls, leaping onto victims without hesitation. Strange movie, this one...hilarious and terrifying at once in the way the baboon harms itself and others.
Okay okay, so it isn't an out-and-out murderous monkey movie, but come on, who could ever forget the wickedly woeful monkey-monster that springs out The Crate in CREEPSHOW? Shit's a goddamn classic right! For fucks sake, take a look at that nasty ass jaw-line for starters! How'd you like that sucker to pop-up like a ferociously feral jack-in-the-box in the middle of the night? Yeah, no thanks! On the real, as one of the better legs of the anthology, The Crate and its memorable monster are a massive reason why, 32 years later, CREEPSHOW is still the sterling example of the multi-chapter form. Of course, Stephen King and George A. Romero colliding minds could never a bad thing, could it?!
Oh my, the Sumatran Rat-Monkey! Peter Jackson's exorbitant cartoon of a bloodbath in DEAD ALIVE is still one of the best horror-comedies of all time, thanks in large part to one of the filthiest, most disgusting and grotesque mammal-zombies ever conceived. Just look at that rabid sumbitch! What's more...the running gag with the blood-parched rodent that always gets a laugh is how big and swollen it continues to grow throughout the film. Things starts off no more than two feet tall, yet by the end is a giant, diseased hulking mass of frothing spume. Granted, the mutant-beast is only one character in a flick filled with equally off-the-wall creatures, but it's just as memorable as any, not to mention responsible for the whole mess to begin with.
Not for nothing, but if I walked in on a nude 21 year old Elisabeth Shue and didn't end up with a slice of pie myself...I too would go on a murderous rampage! So yeah, I can't really blame little LINK, the titular orangutan that used his superhuman intelligence for pure evil back in '86. All japing withheld, LINK is actually a pretty good little man-vs-animal monster-movie. Ms. Shue's mere presence is half the reason alone, sure, but it's really about the gravitas of Terrence Stamp instantly elevating what's otherwise overlong B-horror joint. More, the highly underrated Aussie director, the late Richard Franklin (PATRICK, ROAD GAMES) treats the socially relevant zoology angle just right...not over or understated...just poignant enough!
Save for MARTIN, MONKEY SHINES just might be George A. Romero's most underrated flick. And not just because it features a young Stephen Root and Stanley Tucci, but seriously, that little fucking monkey Ella is a goddamn menacing monstrosity! As Romero's first studio flick, one he alone adapted from Michael Stewart's novel - what's still so great about MONKEY SHINES is the convincing performance put forth by Boo the acting monkey. The little fucker goes berserk...lifting scalpels, plunging needles, sinking fangs...utterly dominating his quadriplegic master by the third act. Oddly enough, it's still one of the only flicks to ever feature a male monkey. Yeah, file that one away for trivia night!
Consider this an all encompassing salute to the various PLANET OF THE APES spin-offs and remakes, including the superb 2011 redo RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. But for purposes of singling one iteration, why not go with Chuck Heston and the OG! What's my man say..."Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" It's a line that's been lifted to legendary status, where it's remained for nearly half a century. Rightly so. Such an iconic movie with so many indelible images that remain fresh on the brain more than 45 year later, like the infamous shot of the beached Statue of Liberty head erected out of the sand. Unforgettable! But the most unique facet is how the simian race is more or less pitted as equals versus humans.
All bow to The King! It's right there in the title isn't folks...you can't have a kingdom of a kind without its ruler! Who knows, without the wild success and popularity of the 80 year old King Kong character, a trend that has endured through many iterations (1933, 1976, 2005), this here Top 10 may not exist. Real shit! And the really cool if not unique thing about Kong is his dual-nature. Most malefic monkeys on our list are just that, out for blood. But what makes Kong so interesting is his romantic soft-side that compliments his hardened homicidal one. I mean, when you're a multi-ton primate able to drop the panties of Fay Wray, Jessica Lange and Naomi Watts...goddamn right you're a King!