Top 10 Pissed off Primate and Murderous Monkey Movies
February 25, 2009 | Lists
It used to be that having a pet chimpanzee was a sign of enviable wealth. A golden retriever was okay if you were middle-class and owned a gazebo, but for those who wanted something better in the 1980s, a pet chimp was a must. And what transpired in those early days of Michael Jackson’s untroubled bliss with Bubbles never made us question the practice. Elizabeth Taylor never had her face torn off during a trip to Neverland.
We have since learned, however, that owning primates as pets means taking on more responsibility than officiating wedding ceremonies between them as you ask “Daisy” if she takes “Skippy” to be her lawfully wedded poop-flinger, to have and to hurl poop at. In our book, The Man Who Scared a Shark to Death and Other True Tales of Drunken Debauchery (and incidentally, no apes were harmed in the writing of that work… none that didn’t deserve it anyway) we recounted an instructive tale of what can happen when you go on vacation and leave behind a chimp with an unlocked liquor cabinet.
One of us lives in Bangkok, where it’s not uncommon to see monkeys run wild and has had enough 7-Eleven bags snatched by psychotic, hissing monkeys to know these creatures are not the types that you can put dresses on and force to reenact Romeo and Juliet for 10 cents on the dollar in a public park with electric prods for punishment and snacks for reward.
Following the horrific story of how a woman was mauled by a pet chimp Travis, we are coming to terms with the fact that chimps are more than just our close genetic cousins with more body hair than a Speedo-clad beachgoer who could stand a trip to Brazil. Letting a chimp loose in your house is akin to letting something go wild that is five times stronger than any human being you can imagine, and one with the moral compass to not distinguish between a coconut and your head. As primatologist Franz de Waal says:
“The chimpanzee has strength for a human that is utterly incomprehensible….Chimpanzee males have been measured as having five times the arm strength as a human male….And the adult males, like Travis—unless his were filed down—have big canine teeth. So you have a very dangerous creature in front of you that is impossible to control.”
The 2 percent genetic difference between us and primates is comprised mainly of muscle and insanity. Hollywood has made its own case for why we should fear the furry ones. We’re not talking about Bedtime for Bonzo, we’re talking no bedtime ever because Bonzo has already massacred the family. Here are the Top 10 Murderous Monkey and Pissed off Primate Films…
Let’s start walking upright with the granddaddy of ‘em all. A film crew happens upon massive Kong on Skull Island, and transports him to New York to be showcased as the 8th Wonder of the World decades before this appellation was thrust upon Andre the Giant (See or our Top 20 Worst Masked Wrestling Gimmicks of All Time, which includes Andre in a lame guise).
According to that other “King”, the horror novelist Stephen, the big fella was a sympathetic figure, who met his end as a “friendless, dying outsider”. Well, rest assured, no such sentiments could be felt as we fill in the other members of our list. And as for how sympathetic ole Kong was, let’s remember that the planes he swatted down had people in them — people who were sent hurtling to a fiery death by a giant mutant ape with an unhealthy obsession for a human woman. Plus think of the poor guys who had to get out the shovel to deal with droppings from the Empire State Building.
Lightening a few shades to George Hamilton tanning bed orange we turn to an orangutan in Link, even though this primate was the unlucky recipient of a dye-job and passed off as a chimp–at least they didn’t make a monkey out of him, as great apes perform better on intelligence tests than monkeys.
Still in keeping with the ‘mad scientist’ theme, and a particularly mad one here who cannot distinguish between orangutans and chimps, Terence Stamp plays a researcher who studies human/chimp interaction. Elisabeth Shue — back in the days when she was known for Adventures in Babysitting (and not babysitting a binge-drinking Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas) takes on a job as his research assistant despite dire warnings that the beast ripped a previous owner to pieces (this had to factor into raising the grant money ante). Link was released in 1986, those who were children and saw the movie’s poster (right) back then didn’t get a good night’s sleep until 1994.
Dishonorable Mention: The Beast That Killed Women.
A giant gorilla terrorizes a nudist camp. Despite this can’t-miss premise, it’s pretty bad.
7) Monkey Shines:
Putting the Great Apes aside for a moment, we turn to director George Romero, well-known for his walking undead films (of course the timeless Night of the Living Dead and his underrated SARS-prescient killer virus flick The Crazies) but less-so for his Murderous Monkey deviation Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear. In this flick, a monkey assigned to help a quadriplegic goes, well, ape-shit, turning the tables on his master (and often out-acting him in this hammy production). If you’ve ever wanted to see a monkey terrorize a man in a wheelchair, and we know you have, then this is the film for you. It seems redundant to make a parody of a movie like this, but here’s one, and here is a taste of the real deal:
Dishonorable Mention: Instinct.
Cuba Gooding cements his legacy as one of the worst actors to get an Oscar and Sir Anthony Hopkins risks a revoking of his knighthood in this bad primatologist-goes-off-the-rails flick.
There are is important point to remember if you are interested in tripling your life expectancy in a horror film like this: If you come across some mysterious cipher, for god sake, never read it aloud: just find something else to do. If you absolutely cannot help yourself, mail it to an anthropologist in another time zone. And on a related note, if you come across a box/crate from antiquity, do not under any circumstances open it.
Here’s a sure sign you’ve just paid to watch something terrible: they hand out 3D glasses before the film begins. That’s what they did with Phantom of the Rue Morgue, one of many 1950s adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe classics that would have horrified the legendary author and not in a good way.
The town folk are all a titter after women in locked apartments are found murdered by a being of incredible strength. If you’ve been following along, you’ll realize the culprit is a murderous ape, as is so often the case in such circumstances in real life. Malden, in a role originated by — who else — Bela Lugosi, trains the beast to be good with a knife and sends him loose to murder women and get 1950s teenagers to pay admission and feel up their girlfriends. The bloodthirsty beast is played by Charles Gemora who “became famous for playing apes during the era,” which is only slightly less embarrassing a legacy than being the guy who made his name as the back end of a horse costume.
No, we are not passing an unkind comment on this movie with the parentheses — that is the name Dead Alive was released under in the United States. Peter Jackson, who would go on to direct his own version of King Kong, no doubt got a taste for the simian stuff back in 1992 with this low-budget early feature.
Now, as we all know from the awful Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak, getting bitten by an exotic monkey is not a goal to which someone looking to lead a happy, healthy and sane life should aspire. In Dead Alive, a monkey’s bite turns a woman into a zombie, who then turns other people into zombies and the result is a movie often called one of the goriest ever made (along with making the bizarre claim that it uses more fake blood than any other movie in history, a claim we would like to see proven).This movie puts to rest any hope we may have had for civilizing Sumatran rat monkeys.
Honorable Mention: 28 Days Later.
We do not accept Mark Wahlberg’s bastardization of this classic role and for us Charlton — “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” — Heston will be the one and only “Taylor” for us. The 1968 film has Heston crash landing on a planet full of apes, one might even call it a planet of the apes, and watching in horror as his crew is murdered by the creatures who, as we well know after this list, are just downright bloodthirsty. The apes here are smarter — if you’ve ever wanted to see a gorilla shoot someone while riding a horse, this is your movie (if you’ve wanted to see that and didn’t know about that scene in Planet of the Apes, then that is an incredible coincidence).
The second film on this list really delivers on its promise. While an ambiguously titled No Country for Old Men could be the world’s longest coming of age story, a bawdy, wrinkled romance from which you’d avert your eyes, there is no mistaking what Night of the Bloody Apes is about–or so you’d think. While it is bloody, and there are apes, the film hinges on a premise looser than the first ten drunk chicks in line at ladies night.
The diabolical Dr Krallman, along with his slightly less diabolical manservant, decides that the best course of action to treat his son Julio who is battling leukemia, is by replacing his heart with that of an ape. This is one for the medical licensing board to take a look at, as leukemia is a bone-marrow disease, but regardless, this results in a murderous “half man, half beast” creature, who goes on to run amok. This delicious premise, coupled with the least realistic scalping ever brought to the silver screen and a questionable sub plot involving a masked female wrestler, might be some kind of Alamo revenge… (Video clip not safe for work, unless you work somewhere cool).
For its gall in making that claim and its cast of thousands of bloodthirsty baboons, this one gets top spot. Also, as the writer from 1000 Misspent Hours observes: “This may well be the only movie ever made in which the characters are saved from being eaten alive because it rains.”
“Thousands of crazed baboons on the loose. “They’re organizing!” remarks one of the human adversaries, in this, the longest and most abstruse bit of union / communist scaremongering subtext ever brought to film. In what has to be the greatest lie in the history of movies, this one bills itself as being based on a true story. Did thousands of baboons hold a group of bad actors hostage because they were driven mad by a drought in Kenya? A quick check of the history books reveals they did not. Yet there is something to be said for the pure fright.