Monkey Shines (1988)

R | 113-115 mins | Horror | 29 July 1988

Director:

George A. Romero

Producer:

Charles Evans

Cinematographer:

James A. Contner

Editor:

Pasquale Buba

Production Designer:

Cletus Anderson

Production Company:

Orion Pictures
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HISTORY

       A 25 May 1984 Publishers Weekly news item announced that author Michael Stewart’s 1983 novel, Monkey Shines, was optioned by MGM/UA for $20,000. On 21 Nov 1984, HR added that the option deal included film rights to a second Stewart story, Far Cry (1984), and the purchase of both literary sources cost $200,000, including a percentage of the two future films’ box-office grosses. Seven months later, a 28 Jun 1985 Publishers Weekly brief stated the MGM/UA’s option had expired, and producer Charles Evans, brother of film industry mogul Robert Evans, purchased screen rights to Monkey Shines.
       Production charts in 9 Sep 1987 Var and 29 Sep 1987 HR stated that principal photography began on 31 Jul 1987 in Pittsburgh, PA. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that filming occurred in Murraysville [sic], PA and The Mellon Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. A 23 Sep 1987 DV item reported that filming was planned to finish in late Oct 1987, and a 31 July 1988 LAT article stated the picture’s budget was $7 million.
       A 31 Mar 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release, referring to the film by the title Ella, announced a prospective release date during the week of 15--22 Jul 1988, while the Apr 1988 edition of Box stated Orion Pictures was to release the film in Jun 1988. However, the 20 Jul 1988 Var reported Orion changed the release date to 29 Jul 1988, and noted the title would be changed to ... More Less

       A 25 May 1984 Publishers Weekly news item announced that author Michael Stewart’s 1983 novel, Monkey Shines, was optioned by MGM/UA for $20,000. On 21 Nov 1984, HR added that the option deal included film rights to a second Stewart story, Far Cry (1984), and the purchase of both literary sources cost $200,000, including a percentage of the two future films’ box-office grosses. Seven months later, a 28 Jun 1985 Publishers Weekly brief stated the MGM/UA’s option had expired, and producer Charles Evans, brother of film industry mogul Robert Evans, purchased screen rights to Monkey Shines.
       Production charts in 9 Sep 1987 Var and 29 Sep 1987 HR stated that principal photography began on 31 Jul 1987 in Pittsburgh, PA. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that filming occurred in Murraysville [sic], PA and The Mellon Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. A 23 Sep 1987 DV item reported that filming was planned to finish in late Oct 1987, and a 31 July 1988 LAT article stated the picture’s budget was $7 million.
       A 31 Mar 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release, referring to the film by the title Ella, announced a prospective release date during the week of 15--22 Jul 1988, while the Apr 1988 edition of Box stated Orion Pictures was to release the film in Jun 1988. However, the 20 Jul 1988 Var reported Orion changed the release date to 29 Jul 1988, and noted the title would be changed to Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear, after sixteen different titles were “tested on the public.” A 2 Jun 1988 LAHExam brief mentioned 40,000 people were surveyed by telephone about the film’s title.
       Along with a change in title, the 31 Jul 1988 LAT reported that upon Orion’s “insistence,” writer-director George A. Romero changed the picture’s ambiguous conclusion to a happier ending.
       The film was released on 29 Jul 1988, as stated in the NYT review of the same date, and received mixed reviews from NYT, 25 Jul 1988 DV and 25 Jul 1988 HR.
       It was reported by 20 Jul 1988 Var that producer Charles Evans had been “concerned” about animal mistreatment allegations, like those leveled against the 1987 film, Project X (see entry). However, the film and its advertisements were criticized by disability rights organizations ADAPT and Adapting Society. Although reports in the 30 Jul 1988 LAT and 1 Aug 1988 DV stated Orion Pictures co-founder Mike Medavoy met and told group representatives that certain taglines would be removed from the film’s print advertisements, the 31 Jul 1988 LAHExam reported members of ADAPT “formed a wheelchair picket line” at the Hollywood Pacific Theater on 30 Jul 1988. By 10 Aug 1988, Var mentioned Orion was issuing an apology, removing content from the film’s media advertisements deemed “objectionable,” and would confer with “consultants with disabilities” for up-coming projects.
      The film opens with the written prologue: “The Helping Hands program at Boston University trains capuchin monkeys to assist the disabled. The monkeys in this film were trained using many of the basic techniques pioneered by the program. Although some sequences may appear traumatic, no monkey was harmed in any way.” End credits state: “Special Thanks To: the Helping Hands Program; M. J. Willard; Judy Zazula; Alice Shure; James Kirkwood; Karen Wunch and the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine at Northridge Hospital Medical Center; Dr. Jean Williams.” End credits also state: “The preceding film is a work of fiction, in no way intended to detract from the extraordinary success of the Helping Hands program at Boston University. None of the incidents portrayed have ever been recorded in the ten year history of the program.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1988.
---
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1987
p. 7.
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1988
p. 3, 15.
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1988
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1988
p. 3, 12.
LAHExam
2 Jun 1988.
---
LAHExam
31 Jul 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Jul 1988
Section Calendar, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jul 1988
Section Calendar, p. 4.
New York Times
29 Jul 1988
Section C, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly
25 May 1984.
---
Publishers Weekly
28 Jun 1985.
---
Variety
9 Sep 1987
p. 6.
Variety
20 Jul 1988
p. 9.
Variety
10 Aug 1988
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion® Pictures Release
A Charles Evans Production
A George A. Romero Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Prod mgr
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
Based on the novel 'Monkey Shines' by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Still photog
Key grip
Best boy elec
Best boy grip
Generator op
Dolly grip
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Prop asst
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Head scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Const coord
Head carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Orchestrator
Mus performed by
Flute soloist
Percussion sololist
Percussion sololist
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus rec at
Toronto, Ontario
Mus rec eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd eff by
Supv sd eff ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Foley ed
ADR mixer, Directors Sound
ADR mixer
ADR mixer, Lion's Gate Studios
Re-rec at
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Main title des
Spec visual eff by
MAKEUP
Spec make-up eff by
Hair & makeup artist
Hair & makeup asst
Spec makeup eff asst
Spec makeup eff asst
Spec makeup eff asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Monkeys trained by
Prod supv
Prod coord
Scr supv
Loc coord
Loc scout
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod office coord
Casting asst
Local casting
Local casting
Boo owned and trained by
Monkey trainer
Monkey trainer
Monkey trainer
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft services
Tech consultant
Unit pub
Legal services by
Legal services by
Legal services by
Insurance supplied by
Insurance supplied by
Asst to Mr. Grunwald and Mr. Paonessa
Asst to Mr. Romero
Post-prod supv
Spec animal voices by
Voice casting by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Monkey Shines by Michael Stewart (New York, 1983).
SONGS
“There’ll Be Another Spring,” written by Peggy Lee and Hubie Wheeler
“Ain’t We Got Fun,” written by Richard Whitting, Raymond B. Egan, and Gus Kahn
“That’s All,” written by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes
+
SONGS
“There’ll Be Another Spring,” written by Peggy Lee and Hubie Wheeler
“Ain’t We Got Fun,” written by Richard Whitting, Raymond B. Egan, and Gus Kahn
“That’s All,” written by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes
“The Glory Of Love,” written by Billy Hill
All songs performed by Peggy Lee, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., under license from Capitol Special Markets.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear
Ella
Release Date:
29 July 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 July 1988
Production Date:
began 31 July 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
4 October 1988
Copyright Number:
PA383803
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo® SR in selected theatres
Color
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
113-115
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Law student Allan Mann awakes early in the morning to exercise. Leaving his girl friend, Linda Aikman, in bed, Allan goes running with a backpack of bricks to weigh him down. A German Shepherd startles Allan to back into the street, and he is hit by a truck. At the hospital, Dr. John Wiseman operates on Allan’s spinal cord. However, the accident has paralyzed Allan from the neck down. Later, Allan’s mother, Dorothy Mann, holds a surprise party to welcome him home after a lengthy hospital stay. Before Allan arrives, Linda discreetly packs her belongings before she breaks up with him. When Allan arrives in a wheelchair, Linda apologizes for not visiting him in the hospital. In the kitchen, Linda leaves a telephone message for Geoffrey Fisher, Allan’s friend and former roommate, asking why he is not at the party. Meanwhile, Geoffrey is at the Experimental Medicine laboratories at the local university. Removing a human brain from a canister labeled “Live Human Tissue,” he creates a serum with the brain matter after flash freezing it. From a wall unit of caged research monkeys, Geoffrey frees a capuchin monkey from cage number 6 and injects the serum into her. Later, Geoffrey drives to Allan’s house. Finding his friend in a hospital bed, Geoffrey apologizes for missing the party. Allan despondently tells him that he thinks Linda broke up with him because she cannot handle his quadriplegic state. Returning to the university, Geoffrey chases off students spray-painting the Experimental Medicine entrance with accusations of torturing animals. Afterward, he meets with Dean Harold Burbage, head of ... +


Law student Allan Mann awakes early in the morning to exercise. Leaving his girl friend, Linda Aikman, in bed, Allan goes running with a backpack of bricks to weigh him down. A German Shepherd startles Allan to back into the street, and he is hit by a truck. At the hospital, Dr. John Wiseman operates on Allan’s spinal cord. However, the accident has paralyzed Allan from the neck down. Later, Allan’s mother, Dorothy Mann, holds a surprise party to welcome him home after a lengthy hospital stay. Before Allan arrives, Linda discreetly packs her belongings before she breaks up with him. When Allan arrives in a wheelchair, Linda apologizes for not visiting him in the hospital. In the kitchen, Linda leaves a telephone message for Geoffrey Fisher, Allan’s friend and former roommate, asking why he is not at the party. Meanwhile, Geoffrey is at the Experimental Medicine laboratories at the local university. Removing a human brain from a canister labeled “Live Human Tissue,” he creates a serum with the brain matter after flash freezing it. From a wall unit of caged research monkeys, Geoffrey frees a capuchin monkey from cage number 6 and injects the serum into her. Later, Geoffrey drives to Allan’s house. Finding his friend in a hospital bed, Geoffrey apologizes for missing the party. Allan despondently tells him that he thinks Linda broke up with him because she cannot handle his quadriplegic state. Returning to the university, Geoffrey chases off students spray-painting the Experimental Medicine entrance with accusations of torturing animals. Afterward, he meets with Dean Harold Burbage, head of the Experimental Medicine department, who inquires about Geoffrey’s human memory cells serum and the test monkey’s reactions. However, Geoffrey advises Burbage it is too early to tell. Returning to his lab, Geoffrey injects more serum into the monkey, but not seeing a change in her intelligence, he thinks she needs to interact with more humans. The following morning, Geoffrey visits Allan, but finds his friend attempting suicide by suffocating under a plastic dry-cleaning bag. After Geoffrey calls an ambulance, Allan returns under Wiseman’s care. Suddenly, Geoffrey sees Linda and asks why she is there. Wiseman stands next to her and tells Geoffrey they are dating. Upset, Geoffrey returns to Allan’s room, not telling him about Linda. Later, Geoffrey drives to the country to meet Melanie Parker, a trainer of helper primates who assist quadriplegic individuals. Learning there are no monkeys currently available, Geoffrey offers to donate one from his lab. Melanie agrees after Geoffrey lies and says the primate has not been exposed to abnormal experiments. After Melanie trains the monkey, she and Geoffrey go to Allan’s house and introduce him to his new companion, “Ella.” As Melanie and Allan’s live-in nurse, Maryanne Hodges, bring in Ella’s cage, Geoffrey tells Allan that he smuggled her out of his lab, but not about the serum injections. Melanie visits several times to equip Allan’s house and wheelchair to help him communicate with Ella, with voice commands and laser pointers. Through bonding with Ella, Allan feels better, and is able to return to law school. One afternoon Allan shows Geoffrey how Ella can make telephone calls with assigned punch cards. Geoffrey marvels at Ella’s increasing intelligence as she calls his lab, but becomes upset when he hears Dean Burbage answering the telephone. Furious at Burbage breaking into the lab, Geoffrey goes to confront him. Instead, Burbage asks about the missing monkey. Geoffrey says the monkey died ten weeks ago, but it was not the animal involved with his brain matter experiment. Later, after nurse Maryanne Hodges has put Allan to bed, they get into an argument over Ella. When Maryanne leaves, her bird, “Bogie,” flies in and starts pecking at Allan’s face. Hearing cries for help, Maryanne returns, but almost pushes Allan onto the floor. Angry, Allan orders her to get rid of Bogie, but Maryanne ignores him. Reacting to Allan’s anger, Ella escapes her cage and sneaks into Maryanne’s room. Ella kills Bogie and places the bird in Maryanne’s slipper. The following evening, after Allan’s mother appears for a surprise visit, Maryanne accuses Allan of sending Ella to kill Bogie. Though denying it, Allan shows no remorse over the bird’s death. Dorothy tells her son that Maryanne is quitting, and she will be moving in to help. While assisting Allan into bed, he sees his hand move on its own, but Dorothy blames his imagination. That night, Allan dreams he is in Ella’s body, running outside. The next day, Allan tells Melanie and Geoffrey about the dream. To reassure Allan, they inspect the house to see if Ella could go outside. In the attic, Geoffrey sees a torn window screen, but does not tell Allan. He also puts down Allan’s idea of having a telepathic connection with Ella. Later, in light of his hand moving, Melanie drives Allan to the office of “Doc” Williams to get a second opinion about his paralysis. Allan learns that his condition may be congenital and that Wiseman might have noticed it during surgery, but did not, as he was focused on the effects of the accident. Afterward, Allan vents to trainer Melanie Parker about Wiseman’s incompetence. Disturbed by his anger, Melanie reminds Allan that he may be able to walk again, but Allan continues to fixate on Wiseman. At home, Allan calls Wiseman, but learns the doctor is gone for the weekend. Insisting it is an emergency, he is given another telephone number. However, Allan realizes the number is to a cabin owned by his former girl friend, Linda. Reacting to Allan’s rage towards Wiseman and Linda, Ella sneaks away to the cabin, and sets it on fire, killing Linda and Wiseman. After learning of the fire, Allan tells Geoffrey and Melanie that Ella must have started it because he wished for something bad to happen to Linda and Wiseman. At Allan’s insistence, Geoffrey takes Ella back to his lab. Melanie invites Allan to stay at her house for the weekend. As Melanie helps Allan out of his wheelchair onto the bed, he tries to kiss her, but misses. He looks away ashamed, but Melanie continues to help him onto the bed. Afterward, she lies on top of Allan, kissing and making love to him. Two days later, Melanie and Allan meet again with Doc Williams, who agrees to operate on Allan if he is able to prove that he can move his body on his own. Returning to Allan’s house, Dorothy expresses her displeasure on not knowing where her son was. Allan apologizes for his recent attitude, blaming Ella as the cause of his anger. In his lab, Geoffrey starts to believe that perhaps the serum is causing Ella and Allan to have a mental connection, and decides to take the remaining serum himself. As Geoffrey passes out, the lab monkeys escape and tear apart the lab. Coming out of his haze, Geoffrey sees Ella is gone. Filling multiple syringes with poison, Geoffrey drives in the rain to warn Allan. Ella enters the house from the attic, and Allan feels the monkey’s angry presence. He yells hateful accusations at his mother. Upset, Dorothy slaps Allan before leaving him in bed. Knowing the anger is connected to Ella, he calls out warnings about the monkey, but Dorothy ignores him and takes a bath. As Dorothy sits in the bathtub, Ella throws a plugged-in hairdryer into the water, electrocuting her. Geoffrey arrives and, after helping Allan into his wheelchair, confesses that he is responsible for genetically manipulating Ella. Suddenly, Ella appears and cuts Geoffrey’s hand with a straight razor. Geoffrey pulls out the poison-filled syringe and goes after her as she chews the wires of the ringing telephone. However, Ella grabs one of Geoffrey’s syringes and injects him with poison, killing him. Allan attempts to escape, but is unable to do so. Worried as Allan did not answer his telephone, Melanie Parker arrives, but Ella trips her and knocks her unconscious. Ella tries to light Melanie on fire, but her rain soaked clothes will not ignite. Instead, Ella finds Geoffrey’s last syringe and goes to inject Melanie. Allan is able to move his hand and turns on the tape player to distract Ella. Hearing the music, Ella goes towards Allan. While she hugs him, Allan bites Ella on her neck and tosses her back and forth until throwing her dead form on the floor. Later, Allan dreams he is being operated on by Doc Williams. When an incision is made on his back, Ella bursts out. Awakening, Allan finds himself in the hospital after the operation. Having regained his ability to move, Allan and Melanie leave the hospital together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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