Release year: 1986
Director: Richard Franklin
Screenwriter: Lee David Zlotoff, Tom Ackerman, Everett De Roche
Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Terrence Stamp, Steven Finch, Richard Garnett, David O’Hara, Kevin Lloyd, Joe Belcher
When zoology student Jane (Shue) lands a job as assistant to acclaimed animal researcher Dr. Philip (Stamp) she is thrilled. He lives in a remote house only accompanied by the chimpanzees he studies and his butler, the highly intelligent orangutan Link. Dr. Philips is planning to euthanize Link due to his increasingly aggressive behavior, but then one day he is gone missing and Jane is left alone with Link.
If you don’t find monkeys just a bit frightening, there is a chance you may after watching this British horror movie. Because the menacing Link is ‘played’ very convincingly the orangutan Locke. with it almost looking more frightening when his small eyes stare passively than when he bares his teeth. The remote location gives a claustrophobic feel to the story and though the plot line is simple and with few characters it has plenty of suspense. Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995) is amazing as the American student testing her intelligence against the primates, her character seems real and she comes of as sympathetic while Stamp (Superman, 1978) manage the cold and collected British professor with ease. Off course the most impressive action is the primates, with especially Locke managing to make Link ‘The Master of Fire’ intimidating and genuinely frightening. Slow moving man vs. monster movie, this could be a nostalgic re-watch or a first time look at just how scary monkeys can be.
The script originally called for Link to be a chimpanzee, but when Locke got the role, Link was changed to an orangutan – although trainer Ray Berwick dyed his fur black and gave him prosthetic ears, to make him look more like a chimp.
If you feel like watching the movie yourself, you can get it here:
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video