MONKEY BOY is the American video-release title for a condensation of "Chimera," a British TV production originally broadcast as a four-part, three-hour-plus miniseries. One would imagine that this 105-minute version would have been cut to emphasize the title creature, but surprisingly,
the beast has rather little to do even in this edition.
The cutting appears to have been most drastic in the early sections of the film; a massacre sequence that came at the very end of the first episode in the original version takes place barely five minutes into this one. The setting of the bloodshed is the Jenner Clinic, an apparent fertility clinic
set out in the hills of Britain. One of the workers there is a nurse named Tracy Pickford (Emer Gillespie), who is the last victim in the rampage of a mysterious creature that has apparently been created within the facility. Her boyfriend, Peter Carson (John Lynch of HARDWARE) drives up to visit
her the next day, only to be informed of the tragedy and given the brushoff by police and other investigating officials; he soon meets Forester (Gary Mavers), a man whose wife was a patient at the clinic and also fell victim.
Getting nowhere in trying to find out what happened, Peter teams with Alison (Christine Kavanagh), a doctor at the clinic who was away from the site the night of the massacre. He's unaware, however, that she's working with Hennessey (Kenneth Cranham), a government official in charge of cleaning up
after the tragedy and covering up its particulars. Meanwhile, the creature responsible, an apelike humanoid (Douglas Mann) nicknamed Chad by its creators, has escaped into the countryside and evaded the search parties sent after it. The beast hides out at a nearby farm, where it kills the owners
but then befriends their children.
Seeking information on the clinic, Peter enlists the investigative help of a journalist friend, who is ultimately killed by Hennessey's men, but not before feeding him information about Dr. Jenner (David Calder), the head of the facility. The trail leads Peter and Alison to Jenner's old partner,
Dr. Liawski (Sebastian Shaw), who now resides in an old-age home, and a tape he provides them reveals the truth: the clinic was devoted to the creation of human/lower primate hybrids, which could be used as slave labor or for the harvesting of organs for transplant. Soon, Alison makes her own
confession to Peter: she had been working with Chad at the lab, and, knowing that the increasingly intelligent creature would soon be killed, left its cage open to allow it to escape; she never expected the bloody aftermath and has been plagued with guilt since.
Peter and Alison eventually track Chad to the farm, where they talk it out of killing one of the children and spirit it to safety in Peter's car. But as police and Hennessey's men surround them, the distraught Forester appears and shoots the creature dead with a shotgun. Some time later, Hennessey
goes to visit a new lab--a much larger facility, one that is breeding hundreds of the humanoid creatures.
Although distributor Prism Entertainment is selling MONKEY BOY as a monster revenge story, the movie is actually much more concerned with intrigue and thrills of a more prosaic kind. The opening massacre is vivid and scarily presented, with the death of Tracy (who seems to be set up as a key
character) coming as a real shock, and there are a couple more murders and some teasing shots from Chad's point of view. But for the most part, the screenplay is taken up with investigations, confrontations and characters worrying variously over What They Have Wrought and What They've Gotten
On this level, MONKEY BOY maintains a decent amount of interest, although, as a result of the tampering for American release, the story development appears rushed and certain subplots either don't pay off or go unexplored completely after being set up. There are more than a few tense sequences,
though horror fans may well become restless waiting for Chad to do its thing. In the end, of course, the filmmakers intend for us to sympathize with the creature, which is only just reacting to the hostile world around it; perhaps this intention is responsible for the lack of blood-and-guts attack
In any case, it's best for prospective viewers to ignore the hard sell of MONKEY BOY's American campaign and be prepared for a more understated kind of monster story. (Violence, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: NR
- Review: MONKEY BOY is the American video-release title for a condensation of "Chimera," a British TV production originally broadcast as a four-part, three-hour-plus miniseries. One would imagine that this 105-minute version would have been cut to emphasize the tit… (more)