The film “Monkey Shines” begins with Allan Mann portrayed by Jason Beghe (Chicago P.D.) having just woken up. Laying next to him is his attractive girlfriend Linda played by three time Golden Globe nominee Janine Turner (Northern Exposure). The athletic Allan, who is also a law school student, starts his day with a jog. Before leaving his house, he weighs down his backpack with bricks. While jogging, he gets distracted for a second and is hit by a truck.
Allan is rushed to the hospital, where he is operated on by the arrogant, Dr. John Wiseman. In the role of the doctor, is two time Golden Globe winner Stanley Tucci (Winchell). Despite the surgery, the accident leaves Allan a quadriplegic. Before returning home, his house is made accessible, and he is given the use of an electric wheelchair that is controlled by his breathing into a tube.
Things for Allan, after returning home, are less than desirable. Linda leaves him. Maryanne (Christine Forrest), his home health nurse is foul tempered. In addition, his mother Dorothy (Joyce Van Patten), who is well meaning and cares for him, comes across as overprotective. Allan is understandably embittered, and sees utter despair for his future.
Allan’s best friend Geoffrey, played by John Pankow (Mad About You), is a gifted chemist. The experiments he is conducting are under the watchful supervision of Dean Burbage, a role acted by Emmy nominee Stephen Root (Barry). According to Burbage, the work is not advancing at the pace the financial donors of the university were hoping for. Geoffrey is doing work with Capuchin monkeys. The experiments involve him injecting human brain tissue into the monkeys. This, he is doing, in the hopes that the monkeys will become smarter.
Geoffrey knows how desperate and depressed Allan is. He gets an idea. One of his monkeys, Ella, demonstrates that she is superior in intellect to the other monkeys. Stating to Dean Burbage that Ella has died during the experiments, Geoffrey seeks out help. He asks an animal trainer, Melanie Parker (Kate McNeil), to train Ella to assist Allan.
Allan and Ella have a wonderful rapport with one another. The monkey seemingly can anticipate his every need. Furthermore, his mind, much to Allan’s bewilderment appears to be merging with Ellas’s mind. Soon after that takes place, bad things being to happen to those who’ve wronged Allan. He suspects that Ella is involved, carrying out his thoughts of revenge on his behalf. Is Allan correct?
“Monkey Shines” was written and directed by George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead). The film was based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Stewart. The psychological, horror novel was published by Freundlich Books on September 1, 1983. Parts drama, horror, Sci-Fi, and thriller, the movie has a runtime of 113 minutes. The score, composed by Oscar winner David Shire (Norma Rae), helps to set the right tone for what is transpiring on screen. The film was released to U.S. theaters on July 29, 1988.
This is the sort of film where suspension of disbelief needs to be used, especially as it pertains to the science. There are several scenes involving genuine fright. Animal lovers need not worry, as it states before the beginning of the movie, no monkeys were harmed during filming. Beghe is very believable in the role opposite his primate co-star. The movie is another of George A. Romero’s work that departs from the zombie horror genre, but is no less interesting.