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Konga

This is one of my all-time favorite mad scientist movies, courtesy of British horror specialists Hammer Studios. Michael Gough ("Alfred" from the first four Batman movies) is a gleefully wicked doctor who comes back from Africa with carnivorous plants and a pet monkey he forcibly evolves (it's that kind of movie) into a gorilla-sized bruiser to murder his professional rivals.

His unrequited-love-afflicted housekeeper actually has no problem with this (so long as he's willing to "marry" her and play proper-British-upscale-couple on the social scene) but when he gets romantically fixated on one of his buxom teenaged students (it's that kind of movie) she turns Konga into a Kong-scale behemoth for revenge.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan

This ahead-of-its time 80s curiosity got in on the "dark-and-gritty-realism-applied-to-goofy-pulp-character" trend before it was a trend, attempting to create a more plausible version of Edgar Rice Burroughs famous "Ape Man" hero. Christopher Lambert (really!) has the title role, opposite a bunch of actors in alarmingly convincing Rick Baker ape suits.

The first half - with Tarzan rising to "king" of his adoptive ape family - really kills; but the "encounter with Victorian humanity" stuff (which is where this should soar) falls a little flat. It's all very well intentioned, but it hits the "this is why this wasn't meant to be played seriously" wall pretty hard and doesn't really recover.

Max Mon Amour

Perhaps more well known (if not well seen) as "the Charlotte Rampling sleeps with a monkey movie," this is an oddball satire where a British ambassador to France who suspects his (French) wife of infidelity discovers that her paramour is actually a chimpanzee named Max. I may have name dropped this in another column, but what can I say? I like people's reactions to this being a real movie.

It's all meant as a broad satire of the culture clash between stoic British appearance keeping and French libertinism - the "racy" stuff is all left to the imagination, so it mostly plays out like a Disney-style "exasperated dad versus wacky pet" movie with a reeeeaaaalllllyyy kinky undercurrent.

Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear

One of George A. Romero's better non-zombie films, this is a unique horror flick about a bitter, recently paralyzed man who gets a trained helper monkey to aid him around the house. At first they get along well... and then it becomes too well.

His friends and acquaintances begin to suffer suspicious injury and death, and it's soon apparent that he and the monkey are so "in sync" that she's carrying out the bitter fantasies of revenge and payback that he's not even fully aware of himself. It's a remarkably effective premise, and deserves to be more widely seen.

Lancelot Links: Secret Chimp

It's technically a short-lived, "only in the 70s" cult TV series, but also available on DVD.

It's a James Bond spoof, with a rotating squad of chimpanzees wearing chimp-scale mod fashions and acting out dubbed slapstick on alarmingly elaborate sets. So yes, Austin Powers with monkeys. If nothing else, worth seeing to realize that at some point in the recent past there was actually enough cocaine being consumed in Hollywood that this premise was greenlit, funded, produced and made it to broadcast television.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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