“Monkey Shines” is one of those ’80s horror movies that was littered across video stores in my childhood, and somehow I never got around to watching it until now… and frankly, my instinct to avoid it was the correct one. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, it’s that it’s an underwhelming, rather boring one. Jason Beghe is pretty solid in the lead as a health-conscious young man who is run over by a truck and ends up in a wheelchair, but despite a strong supporting cast that includes Janine Turner, Stanley Tucci and Stephen Root, there’s just nothing much for anybody to do. The plot is repetitive and slow-paced, and without any strong characters to care about the whole thing becomes a plodding, mediocre timewaster. Unfortunately, the trained capuchin monkey that becomes the movie’s lethal menace is far too adorable to register much menace, while director George A. Romero is not able to subvert her adorability, so the main intended source of tension is negated: It’s hard to abandon yourself to the intended atmosphere when you’re constantly aware of how director Romero concentrates on shooting around the monkey instead of building the movie’s characters or its pace.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)