Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear

1988

Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear

Critics Consensus

While not one of horror legend George Romero's more evolved efforts, Monkey Shines delivers enough primal fear to satisfy more forgiving genre enthusiasts.

53%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 32

40%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,424
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Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear Photos

Movie Info

An experiment provides a simian aide that has been trained to assist a quadriplegic, but the man feels a strange connection with the mammal, which is exhibiting "feelings."

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Cast

Jason Beghe
as Allan Mann
John Pankow
as Geoffrey Fisher
Kate McNeil
as Melanie Parker
Joyce Van Patten
as Dorothy Mann
Christine Forrest
as Maryanne Hodges
Stephen Root
as Dean Burbage
Stanley Tucci
as Dr. John Wiseman
Janine Turner
as Linda Aikman
William Newman
as Doc Williams
Tudi Wiggins
as Esther Fry
Tom Quinn
as Charlie Cunningham
Chuck Baker
as Ambulance Driver
Patricia Tallman
as Party Guest
David L. Early
as Anesthetist
Michael Naft
as Young Allan
Dan Fallon
as Allan's Friend
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Critic Reviews for Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (7)

  • before its disappointing dénouement, Monkey Shines is a very tense thriller concerned precisely with one man's struggle to tame his older, wilder instincts.

    Oct 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A befuddled story about a man constrained from the neck down told by a director confused from the neck up.

    Nov 26, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • One of George Romero's most effective and interesting horror thrillers.

    Nov 26, 2007 | Rating: 3/4
  • Romero's is a formidable talent which others can only hope to ape.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A film that begins in sentimentality and ends in ludicrous melodrama.

    Aug 30, 2004 | Rating: 1.5/5
  • Somewhere within this movie's two hours or so is hidden an absolutely spellbinding 90-minute thriller.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear

  • Nov 02, 2012
    Disturbing, well executed horror yarn by master director George Romero, Monkey Shines is an accomplished film. With a great cast, and effective scares, this is a must see film for horror fans. What really stood out in this film was the performance of the monkey. That made the film very interesting and memorable. With a great script, and good cast, Monkey Shines is an underrated film that delivers some truly unique chills. This is yet another film that proves that George Romero is a capable director who is able to make other types of horror films. This is an engaging film that is truly entertaining from start to finish. The film does start off slow, but it grabs your attention from the first shot onwards. The film blends Slasher and psychological horror elements into one picture and there's a perfect balance between the two. The result is a film that is quite disturbing and chilling at the same time. This is among Romero's best works that is not a movie dealing with creatures of the undead. Underrated upon release, this is a film that doesn't deserve the flack it has received. This is an effective horror film that induces fear and manages to be an inventive, thrilling and memorable film that is sure to please diehard horror fans. George Romero delivers a truly unique and original film that is really good and deserves much more praise than what it got. If you want to see a different film from Romero, which a totally different change of pace, then give Monkey Shines a watch.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Oct 30, 2012
    Having sex with a quadriplegic person is kinda kinky... Romero did a good job directing this animal terror driving psychological horror film. Now, the plot may be a bit far fetched. I like films that addresses the danger of vivisection, also addressing the problems faced by people who lost mobility after accidents. Jason Beghe's character developed so well, Pankow's mad scientist character is pretty well acted. It's an entertaining film to watch. But I must say it's more of a science fiction than horror. The Animal compares to this is nothing. :3
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Aug 23, 2011
    If you look at Monkey Shines as a horror movie, it's a complete failure. It's not horrific or scary at all. However, if you see it as a goofy monkey movie it's a little better. The music is so inappropriate and the length it takes to go anywhere is unacceptable. It also feels like a second rate Stephen King novel a lot of the time. However, it does have some of the best monkey business i've ever witnessed. The capuchin monkey playing Ella gave the best performance in the movie. I just loved seeing it go crazy and fulfill all these bizarre tasks for its paraplegic master. That being said, it's not enough to take away from the boring story, mediocre acting and uninspiring visuals. When you know this comes from an extremely talented horror director it's even more disappointing. You know this could've been good, but it's like no one knew what they were doing (except for the monkey).
    Conner R Super Reviewer
  • May 15, 2011
    George Romero does an excellent job of swapping Zombies for Monkeys. This film may sound ridiculous in the most preposterous way. But then again, we now live in a world of Snakes on a Plane and Burning Bright, so this is a little easier to swallow. In its genre, it is one of the best examples, and I'm not just talking about killer animals. I'm also referring to the stalker/obsessive partner/friend genre. What Romero does brilliantly, is to take a number of characters and the audience on a journey of emotions and self discovery. For example, I started off wanting one of these monkeys. The relationship built up is a genuinely loving one. It's really cute, and this could easily be one of those lifetime inspirational movies. If the monkey wasn't a genetically modified, telepathic, homicidal, psycho monkey. The well trained monkey takes us from tragic victim of experiments, to a loving carer. We get a wonderful cleaning montage, as the monkey helps the friendship expands. The monkey's obsession grows steadily. It starts off with a few temper tantrums and escalates into bananas in the slippers. Soon bananas turn to murder. It's the evolution of all species. None of this would work if it wasn't for a dramatic human connection. Beghe is a law student/athelete that is paralysed. He goes through acceptance, denial, frustration, which is understandable as his girlfriend leaves him for his doctor (a sleazy Tucci), he gets a patronizing nurse, and then his overbearing mother. It's great to see how the characters react to Beghe's quadriplegia, as it enforces Beghe's later anger. Beghe also does a terrific job of facial acting, which is most important as he can't use his body. In a single look he can convey the embarrassment of his mother having to wash him. On the surface, this is a story of a monkey being a bitch to a cripple. But look deep down, REAAAAAAALLY deep, and you'll see a social commentary. For a long time, the monkey is the only one that treats Beghe as an equal. It doesn't throw money at his problem, try and cheer him up, nor can the monkey do everything for him. Romero fills the film with dread, absurdity, and most of all a serious edge that clearly does the film justice. It's easy to mock this film. But the truth is, this could actually happen. Monkeys are creepy and untrustworthy.
    Luke B Super Reviewer

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