A few articles back someone recommended Shakma and Demond Wind, so I wasted no time grabbing both. Shakma won me over almost immediately when I saw Roddy McDowall in the credits. If the name doesn't bring a bell, he was the flamboyantly gay sounding British ape from the bulk of the Planet of the Apes films, and for the younger readers out there, Mr. Soil from A Bug's Life. Just imagine a mix between Niles Crane from Frasier and C-3PO. That's Roddy McDowall, and he was awesome.
Shakma, as one would expect from the title, begins with emergency surgery in a teaching hospital set to dramatic cheap synth music! After this we get some medical lab tech nerd showing off walkie talkies he's set up so that the players can't talk to each other, only the game master. ...I don't think you understand how D&D works, movie. He also references how the other player is scared of losing, suggesting that it's somehow a competition. ...You really don't understand how D&D works, movie. Oh well, at least it isn't that god awful Tom Hanks movie. We also get some really hilarious computer noises that sound more like something from an Atari game.
It turns out Shakma's the name of a baboon they've been experimenting on, trying to make less aggressive. We get a good look at this redassed aggressor, which I can't believe is going to be our killer. Roddy McDowall comes in and has them pump the baboon full of more anger juice to make it less angry after it attacks one of the students, and probably just ponders to himself how he got stuck doing movies like this. The baboon ends up dying, but McDowall wants it to be left out so he can do a necropsy on it a few days later.
The setup for this is unique, a bit, I'll give it that. A bunch of college age types LARPing in a hospital with a killer baboon on the loose, with Roddy McDowall as the dungeonmaster. Now if only this was, instead, a very special episode of the Dungeons & Dragons animated series. "I've got a bad feeling about this!" The summary for the film called the game they were playing Dungeons & Dragons, but it's quite obviously not that. It's something very competitive, apparently. They've got one person waiting on one level as a queen, and one person wandering around as "the nemesis", wearing a vaguely apelike monster mask. They're randomly assigned characters on top of that. As a GURPS fan, I refuse to accept any character creation I can't die during.
The bearded nerdy guy that handled the walkie talkies wanders around the hospital, getting Riddler-like clues off chalkboards, and talking... erm. Okay. The way he talks into the walkie talkie towards McDowall sounds like he's trying to flirt with him. Or he's being evil and cheating. I can't really tell. Maybe both? Maybe he's sleeping with Roddy McDowall in exchange for him rigging the game? Anyway he thinks he hears the "Nemesis" somewhere, but not in the room the Nemesis is supposed to be in. He enters the animal testing room and finds that the baboon has eaten all the caged animals. It throws a little hissy fit, pounces him, and the camera cuts away, leaving us to assume he's dead.
Roddy calls the lead guy over walkie talkie to have him go check on Beardy McGlasses to make sure he's okay and to tell him his walkie talkie's dead. Meanwhile the guy in the Nemesis mask wanders around boredly, and we see the baboon... playing with a cute stuffed monkey. Nemesis finds Beardy McGlasses's bloody walkie talkie, as well as his corpse, apparently the baboon tore his throat out and then decided to leave him alone. The baboon tries to pounce Nemesis, but he closes a closet door on himself to protect himself. Cue the baboon making a mix of stock ape and stock rabbit noises as it throws itself at the closet door to get to him. Seriously, was it that hard for you to just record the noises the fucking baboon makes? Was it really? After awhile of doing nothing, Nemesis opens the door, takes a few steps out, and... the baboon pounces him and attacks his throat. Maybe instead of Shakma they could have just called this movie "The Baboon That Hated Necks."
Male lead stumbles upon his love interest, they talk to Roddy who tells them to stay put while he tracks down Richard (Nemesis) and Beardy McGlasses since he can't contact either of them. They apparently take this moment to either make out or have sex off screen. Well, it's a horror movie, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Elsewhere the princess is in her outfit, and apparently also has the hots for the male lead. Okie doke.
Roddy stumbles upon the corpse of Richard/Nemesis, which has been ripped to shreds. I guess the baboon hates more than just throats. We get some really hilariously bad dramatic synth music playing as the baboon runs up and pounces Roddy as he's running for the hospital, and then the camera quickly cuts away. I'm noticing a trend now. The two lovebirds start wondering where he is and go to the elevator on the upper floor, but it doesn't come up. The camera cuts down to the floor below showing Roddy's mutilated body is blocking the door. By my count, this leaves token black guy, the two lovebirds, and the princess left alive.
The two lovebirds wander around trying to find everyone else, but instead just find bloodstains, which doesn't seem to cause them to panic as much as they should. That is, until they stumble upon the baboon, which attempts to kill them before they close the door on it. It still makes a bunch of non-baboon noises. So, the baboon decides to wander back to Richard's corpse and take some more pieces out of its face, until it hears them moving around. It's actually kind of a cute baboon, I like it's reactions to things. I seriously cannot take it seriously as a movie monster. Also the screaming sounds it makes are just ridiculous. It doesn't sound like a baboon, and it never stops looping the same sound over and over. I think any animal that was seriously this freaked out for this long would have had a fucking heart attack or something. Seriously.
They try to distract the baboon so they can explode around the hospital, and this sequence is just hilarious. The baboon attacks anything that makes a noise, headbutts doors, etc. while Sam and Tracy, the two lovebirds, wander about the hospital trying to find other people. We were told Shakma knows how to open doors, but mostly he just headbutts them a lot. This combined with how cute the baboon looks half the time makes it that much harder to take it seriously. They try to make it scarier by throwing in an assload of scenes of the baboon just jumping around and breaking shit, but it really doesn't work.
Gary, the token black guy who hasn't really been given any attention beyond the fact that he's wacky and is poorer than everyone else, calls up the elevator, despite being told not to by Tracy. It turns out the baboon understands elevators, and presses a few buttons to call Gary up to him. Baboon enters the elevator, attacks him on camera, ripping him to shreds until he dies, then chases after Tracy now that it's on her floor. At least the camera didn't cut away for this one, like it did for all of the others.
Tracy ends up trapping herself in the bathroom with it, and tries to escape via a very, very tiny vent that looked really, really fake. Right down to a flimsy, plastic vent cover. It's small though, and she can't fit inside, so the baboon ends up killing her offscreen. That's a bit surprising, at least. Wouldn't have expected her to die in this kind of movie. Or such a lame death. Seriously. On the bright side, she put up more of a fight than anyone else did.
Sam meets up with the princess who he was supposed to be rescuing, tells her all about the killer ape, and they venture off together wielding kitchen knives. Richard's girlfriend arrives at the hospital, waiting for her boyfriend to get done with the game. They try to scream out the window at her but she's the kind of bitch that stops her car outside and plays music so fucking loud that you can hear it clearly while you're indoors. I have nothing but the deepest hatred for people that do that, so I eagerly await her death. Coincidentally, as I write this, there's some dumbass outside with his car stereo so fucking loud the bass is like an earthquake. It's not much of a coincidence, though, I guess. They're as common as pigeons in CA.
Sam stumbles upon the bloody corpse of Gary, and decides that it'd be a good idea to venture off alone to find his girlfriend, leaving the princess alone on an upper floor. He explores around the bathroom before finding his girlfriend's bloody corpse in one of the stalls, causing the actor to try his hardest to act. Meanwhile the princess is digging around upstairs looking for clues and crap that Roddy left around, which leads her to some marbles that she begins throwing at Richard's girlfriend's car in order to get her attention. She's still listening to really shitty synth sax music though, and can't be bothered to notice that until the princess stars flashing a flashlight at her. Her reaction? "Stupid game," then drives off. Seriously, what a dumb bitch.
Back on a lower floor, Sam moves the corpses of Gary and his girlfriend into the hall for some reason, takes Gary's key, and then goes up to the seventh floor. All to more cheap dramatic synth music! Seriously, the music in this film reminds me less of a film from 1990 and more of a film from the early 80's. He finds out that the princess is a dumb bitch and has gone off to a lower floor to find Richard all by herself. She's wandering around the corpses of the first victims when a cat spooks her, because I guess the baboon didn't eat all of the animals. This ends up attracting the baboon, which of course pounces her and forces the film to cut to the next scene.
Sam finds her corpse, and everything goes slowmo as he carries her corpse elsewhere to dramatic fucking synth music. I don't get why, he did this earlier to Gary and his girlfriend, both done in a slow and overly dramatic way as Sam's actor tries desperately to act but ultimately fails. At this point, Sam ends up having the bright idea to fucking call 911. They pick up, but he doesn't fucking say anything, then hangs up. Why? Instead he grabs a flashlight and some pole thing and I guess decides that he needs to go all Rambo on the baboon's ass. In real life, the cops would normally come by anyway, send someone out to investigate the call if nobody said anything. The synth music also briefly turns into the music from Ocarina of Time's Forest Temple for a brief few moments, which amused me.
Like a retarded version of the kid from Home Alone, Sam lays out four wires, super thin ones, and soaks them in water as part of his plan to kill the baboon. Seriously, this guy is a fucking retard. I think the fucking baboon in this movie is smarter than any of the actual characters. Somehow, due to magic, this ends up electrocuting the baboon off screen, which unleashes an extremely non-baboonish scream that can apparently be heard far outside of the hospital. Seriously, fuck you movie. Those tiny wires couldn't electrocute shit.
Apparently the baboon was just playing around, as it ends up tackling Sam and taking big bites out of him... before just... stopping. Sam screams at it, and the baboon just sorta... stands up and walks away, cutely. What the fuck just happened here? Am I taking crazy pills or something? What the fuck is even going on anymore? Here's some advice, movie. Stop letting the baboon walk on two legs, it's just adorable when it does that. Anyway we get some retarded Wiley Coyote shit where the baboon leaps at Sam, but it turns out it's leaping through a mirror and into an incinerator where it gets burned to death.
The film ends with Sam passing out, telling a monkey plush that he won, and then slowly bleeding to death. Seriously, what the fuck did I just watch? The baboon was adorable, Sam couldn't act worth shit, and the final fourth of the film was a confusing mess. Still, I can at least say that this was one of the better killer ape films I've seen. Sure, it doesn't beat Congo, but I've still seen far worse. If you want a hilariously awful horror film about a cute killer red-assed baboon, give this a viewing. If you love seeing big name actors stuck in awful horror films, come watch this for Roddy McDowall, it's about on par with Laserblast, another low grade film he popped up in (if you've never seen it, just watch the MST3K ep version. It's easily one of my favorite Mike era episodes.)