You know what it's like to get your ass kicked at the box office by the second weekend of Caddyshack II? Monkey Shines does. On July 29th, 1988 it was released on 1100 screens (not bad for a little horror movie at that time; the big budget Blob remake would be released to fewer just a week later), but largely ignored, coming in at eleventh place and sinking fast, for a total of $5.3 million. Even Mac & Me made more money.
Thus, it's safe to assume you've never seen it on 35mm (if at all), which is why I'm happy to present it as the next Horror Movie A Day screening this Saturday (August 18th). Thanks to the various distribution issues surrounding nearly every film he made, some Romero films tend to be a bit hard to find on 35mm (Dawn of the Dead actually can't be shown legally without permission from its producer), so any one you can find is a blessing.
For those uninitiated, Monkey Shines is the story of a paraplegic man who receives a trained monkey to assist him with his day to day living. It's all well and good (and kind of cute!) until Ella starts carrying out her master's unspoken, subconscious wishes. Dude hates a bird: Ella kills it. And things get worse. It's a strange concept, but it works, thanks to Romero's direction in his prime and his well structured script (based on a novel by Michael Stewart). It's also got a great cast: Stephen Root and Stanley Tucci pop up, and Jason Beghe is a fine everyman hero. Throw in some Savini FX and some stylish cinematography by James Contner (who was Michael Mann's DP for a good chunk of the '80s), and you have a pretty solid horror/sci-fi blend that ranks as Romero's most underrated film, in my opinion.
So where can you see what you've been missing? The New Beverly Cinema of course, located at 7165 Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles (90036), just two blocks west of La Brea. Street parking is available (Formosa is your best bet) and tickets are 8 bucks cash at the door, or you can buy advance tickets online at BrownPaperTickets. I'll have some DVDs and swag to give away before the movie, so get there on time! Everything starts at 11:59 pm on Saturday August 18th.
And check out the poster by Jacopo Tenani!