Coming off the moderate success of PSYCHO II, Australian director Franklin again delves into the thriller genre with borrowings from Hitchcock's REBECCA (1940) and THE BIRDS (1963). The story begins in London as Shue, an innocent young blonde zoology student, meets Stamp, an eccentric
university professor who studies chimpanzees. She is hired to work as his lab assistant at his Victorian mansion, remotely located along England's coast. When she arrives at the front door, she is greeted not by a human servant but by Link, a well-mannered chimpanzee dressed in a tuxedo. Shue
becomes familiar with Link and his two companions, Imp and Voodoo, but before long mysterious things begin to happen. One day Stamp disappears without a trace. Then Voodoo is found dead. Link begins to act strangely, disobeying Shue's orders and bullying Imp. Link's actions, however, seem more
mischievous than dangerous, especially when he decides to cook a telephone in the microwave. When Lloyd, an acquaintance of Stamp's, arrives to take away Voodoo, the situation begins to intensify. Lloyd tries to kill Link, but is scared off by the raging chimp, who proceeds nearly to overturn his
van. As time passes, Shue grows increasingly perturbed at Link, locking him out of the house--an action that infuriates the chimp. Link, by now, has turned bloodthirsty. Shue, however, acts as if nothing strange is going on, wandering through the mansion's grounds unconcerned for her own safety.
In the nick of time, Shue's boyfriend and his pals arrive on the scene. Two of them are killed by the crazed chimp, but Shue manages to outsmart Link and blow him to smithereens in a finale that looks like KING KONG meets WHITE HEAT. Director Franklin likes to call LINK "an anthropological
thriller as opposed to a psychological one"--a distinction that might have been valid had LINK worked as a thriller. Unfortunately, the film fails to provide much thrill, instead coming across as hilariously inept. The blame seems best laid at the feet of the screenwriters who consistently paint
Shue as one of those characters in suspense pictures who always do stupid things. She does everything that Stamp has warned her not to do when interacting with the chimps: she wanders around dark cellars, she ignores warnings of vicious wild dogs, she even undresses in front of an overly curious
Link. After a point, her stupidity becomes so frustrating that one hopes Link will tear her to shreds. What is even more distressing is that Shue has a wonderfully innocent screen presence (she's been seen before as Ralph Macchio's girlfriend in THE KARATE KID) that fights against the inanity of
her character. Stamp is likable as always, stepping into a role that is an extension of Peter O'Toole's eccentric-scientist character of CREATOR, but he disappears from the screen far too early in the film. The performances from the three chimps are amazingly expressive, thanks to the expertise of
animal trainer Ray Berwick, who also worked for Hitchcock on THE BIRDS. Although the film falters in creating suspense, it impresses with some exceptional technique, chiefly in its use of the Steadicam combined with a wide-angle lens and slow-motion photography to duplicate the chimps' point of
view. Leading-chimp Locke is actually an orangutan, a more docile, readily manipulated animal than the chimpanzee. Wearing slip-over ears and dentures, with his fur trimmed and dyed black, the animal actor simulated the real thing well and stole his every scene.
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- Released: 1986
- Rating: R
- Review: Coming off the moderate success of PSYCHO II, Australian director Franklin again delves into the thriller genre with borrowings from Hitchcock's REBECCA (1940) and THE BIRDS (1963). The story begins in London as Shue, an innocent young blonde zoology stude… (more)