Monkey status: One ape-like creature is featured in this film
Recently George A. Romero died at the age of 77 of lung cancer. To honour his legacy, Is there a monkey in it? has decided to take a look at some of his films. Acursory glance at his filmography revealed Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear (1988) but to be honest, that just seemed like low-hanging fruit. Is there a monkey in that movie? I mean, obviously.
So we checked out some of his other lesser known classics. He was best known for his zombie flicks such as Dawn of the Dead (1978) and the one that started the whole walking dead phase, Night of the Living Dead (1968).
What not of people know is that he also directed a rom-com in 1971 called There’s Always Vanilla, about a guy leaving the army and then hilariously moving back home to Pittsburgh and relying on an old lady for total physical, emotional and spiritual support. I don’t know, I haven’t seen it – I was told there are no monkeys in it.
What we did go back and dig up from its shallow grave was 1980’s Creepshow, a horror anthology film adapted from the works of Stephen King. Most of this film isshockingly monkey-less. We begin with a wrap-around narrative about a kid who likes to read horror comics. The little kid playing him is in fact Joe King, Stephen King’s son. Nowadays we know him better as author Joe Hill – he wrote that film Horns where Daniel Radcliffe walked around with inexplicable devil horns the whole film. Weren’t any monkeys in that one either.
King himself also shows up as Jordy Verrill and proves to everyone why he probably shouldn’t be on screen for anymore than a cameo. His acting co-star is a space fungus growing on his face and unfortunately it comes off more believablethan the Crimson King himself. When he shows up as a character in the upcoming Dark Tower movie franchise they are going to have to figure out a solution. He can’t do it himself. Maybe Jason Segel can sew Stephen King’s face over his own like in Face-Off. (Weren’t any monkeys in that one either, were there!)
But enough about movies that don’t have monkeys, because Creepshow ain’t one of them. While four of the five segments are totally monkey-less, The Crate pulls the entire film back from the brink.
Shot at Romero’s alma mater, Carnegie-Mellon University, this is a simple tale about a big ol’ box that’s been under a stairwell for 147 years. Inside a monstrous gorilla-like creature is discovered with an unmatched bloodlust. Another potential job for a simian actor squashed – the ape is played here by a puppet (which I might add, is almost indistinguishable from the real thing!)
The ape in the box kills anybody who comes close. The plot has it serve as a kind of physical manifestation of the protagonist’s murderous impulses – Henry Northrup, played by Hal Holbrook, is a meek and mild lecturer at the university who totally detests his wife, to the point of showing his gory daydreams of killing her in cold blood. When he learns of the creature in the box he oddly sees it as an opportunity to get his wife off his back – by having the thing rip her to bits and then eat the remains. Simple and understandable scheme.
I don’t know how your average ape would feel about being portrayed in such a bloodthirsty way, but I guess we do have our human serial killers in films and we don’t complain about them. Maybe it was high time for a Gibbon Voorhees or a Hannibal Lemur.
So if you have a jonesing for something monkey-like pulling a bunch of people into a big crate and then tearing them to bits, look no further. One of the many sadnesses of Romero’s passing is that we will never see this creature’s future through his eyes. Where does it go after its escape? Are there more apes out there with similar bad attitudes?
I mean, it’s sad we won’t say that, but I guess it’s sadder for his kids and stuff. Sorry if Isounded insensitive. It’s a bummer. Lung cancer, ay. Sorry.
Dedicated to the memory of George A. Romero