Blu-ray Review “Monkey Shines”

Starring: Jason Beghe, John Pankow, Kate McNeil, Joyce Van Patten, Christine Forrest, Stephen Root
Director: George A. Romero
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Run Time: 113 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s funny certain things can trigger different memories. I remember seeing the box to “Monkey Shines” in the horror isle of my local mom and pop video store. Who can say no to a toy monkey with a knife, right? The film is also directed by horror legend George A. Romero (Night Of The Living Dead). Real monkeys were used in film, which really adds to the suspense in the film. This even has a few well known faces including Stephen Root (Office Space) and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games) popping up in it. The film is still effective and even though it runs near two hours, it holds up today.

Official Premise: Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is a bitter, angry and vengeful man ever since an accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. He’s fed up with himself and everyone around him. All that changes when he’s given Ella, a monkey trained to meet his every need. But when Ella begins anticipating Allan’s thoughts, strange and deadly things start happening. And as she stalks and wreaks havoc on Allan’s fair-weather girlfriend (Janine Turner), incompetent doctor and meddling mother, Allan realizes he must stop the cunning maniacal creature…before she fully takes over his mind!

Scream Factory definitely delivered a solid Blu-ray presentation. The 1080p transfer is definitely awesome. The film is quite dark but the transfer really works and looks great. The last time I believe I saw this was on VHS, so I guess anything is an improvement. The DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo also doesn’t disappoint. The score is fantastic and that monkey screeches are ear piercing.

The special features are equally as awesome. There is a brand new audio commentary with Writer/Director George A. Romero. “An Experiment In Fear – The Making of “Monkey Shines” is a brand new retrospective that runs over 45 minutes and features interviews with George A. Romero, actors Jason Beghe, John Pankow and Kate McNeil, Executive Producer Peter Grunwald, Special Make-Up Effects Creator Tom Savini, Special Make-Up Effects Assistants Greg Nicotero and Everett Burrell and Editor Pasquale Buba. There are some vintage extras including Behind-the-Scenes Footage and “Making of Monkey Shines” with additional interview clips. Lastly there is an Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes, Trailers & TV Spot and Still Gallery included.

Blu-ray Review “Miramax Triple Feature: eXistenZ / Malevolent / B. Monkey”

Directed by: David Cronenberg, John Terlesky, Michael Radford
Starring: Jude Law, Lou Diamond Phillips, Asia Argento
MPAA Ratings: R
Distributed by: Echo Bridge Entertainment
DVD Release Date: May 1, 2012
Running Time: 284 minutes

eXistenZ: 4 out of 5 stars
Malevolent: 2 out of 5 stars
B. Monkey: 3 out of 5 stars

Honestly this triple feature Blu-ray is worth it just alone for the purchase of Cronenberg’s gem “eXistenZ”. This film has never been released on Blu-ray before and this is the first time it has been available. I saw this film in theaters back in 1999 and it instantly becoming a favorite of mine.  If you are wondering why I gave this film 4 out of 5 stars, that is since the film says it is full 1080p but only registers 1080i and only comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 track.  Now I am not even really complaining but the film does sound and look great on Blu-ray.

Now let’s get to the other films on this release.  I really do not see how “eXistenZ” fits in since it is not really an action movie, per say.  I love me some Lou Diamond Phillips but “Malevolent” just screams B-movie action and really doesn’t rise about that.  It does come with a 5.1 DTS audio track though, which was impressive and best on the entire disc.  “B. Monkey” stars the beautiful Asia Argento, who I can watch in honestly anything.  I saw this film many years ago and it has held up overtime.  It is still nothing to knock your sock off with but it is decent action and she kicks ass, as usual.

“eXistenz” directed by David Cronenberg, stars Jennifer Jason Leigh & Jude Law. It also has appearances from Ian Holm and Willem Dafoe. Leigh plays game designer Allegra Geller, who is responsible for the new groundbreaking virutal game system called “eXistenZ”. While on the run with Ted Pikul (Jude Law) to avoid being assassinated, they take the game for a test drive and become immersed in a dangerous alternate reality.

“Malevolent” stars both Lou Diamond Phillips and Kari Wuhrer. Jack (Phillips) is a cop who is trying to clear his name. After passing out in a bar bathroom and wakes up being framed for murder that he didn’t committ. It is up to him to clear his name and find the person responsible. Oh and Kari Wurher plays stripper (big stretch).

“B. Monkey” was originally released to cash in on the Asia Argento’s role in “XXX”. She plays a thief named B who is trying to get out of the business. While trying to kick her addiction to crime, she finds love with a school teacher. Then her past comes back to haunt her.

Echo Bridge is known for releasing Miramax’s films on Blu-ray, some in combo packs like this one and some solo.  This is obviously not the best Blu-ray that I own but I was just happy enough to see “eXistenZ” get a semi-HD treatment.  I also have to note that each film has zero special features.  There is virtually no room anyway since all three films are crammed on to one Blu-ray 50GB disc.  I hope that Echo Bridge is planning a solo release for “eXistenZ” in the near future and hoping they tack on some extras and fix the audio and video issues.  But for now I recommend snagging this release to add to your collection.