Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shakma, Roddy McDowell vs. the Ape

When animals is usually because a human did an evil or stupid thing.  That is the case in 1990's "Shakma," where experimentation on the brain of a baboon has fatal consequences on medical students and their professor.  With the popularity of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (released in theaters last week-end), "Shakma" is a timely movie for this blog, especially since Roddy McDowell stars.  The two really cool aspects of this movie, setting it apart from average fare, are the fantastic ending and real surprises on who survives and who gets chewed up by the psycho baboon.
As the story begins, Dr. Sorenson (McDowell) is finishing up with brain surgery on Shakma the baboon, as his students watch.  Bad news, when Shakma comes to, he is all spazoid (my word, like it?).  Sorenson then has Shakma euthanized.....or so he thinks.  Remember, this is 1990.  Fantasy Football and elaborate computer games do not yet exist.  So...what are restless med students and their professor to do to let off steam.  Exactly!  Sorenson arranges a huge role playing game akin to "Dungeons and Dragons" where he will act as the game master.  His students will be knights, elves, wizards, dungeon keepers, and princesses.  They will search the halls for weapons, powers, and magic crystals in hopes of freeing the princess (Ari Meyers of "Kate and Allie").  Uh oh..... Shakma regains consciousness and he is really ape-s&#@.  As the students prowl the halls, Shakma hunts them down in very bloody fashion.  Sam (Christopher Atkins of "The Blue Lagoon") and Tracy (Amanda Wyss of  "A Nightmare on Elm Street") figure out what is happening and realize the game has changed.  
As idiotic role-playing med students get chewed up, Tracy and Sam attempt to find ways to rescue their surviving peers and kill Shakma.  The two work brilliantly to distract the monster, while they search rooms for survivors...though this will be a futile effort.  Their strategery will then be focused on escape.  Sam must rescue the princess from the seventh floor, and Tracy will keep Shakma trapped on the fifth floor.  With the stakes being life and death, there is no room for error.  As Kim, dressed as a medieval princess waits to be rescued by a prince, she has no clue of what is happening on the floors below.  
I don't want to say too much more, as the final 20 minutes has many surprises.  Shakma is relentless and unforgiving and chooses his kills without regard to the attractiveness or clean-cut nature of the characters. Will Sam be able to save the princess?  Will a modern remake of "Shakma" use Fantasy Football or a zombie role playing game as a plot device?  Though inspirational to the baboon community, humans will find "Shakma" unsettling.  For more ape fun at the movies, see "Shakma," which is on Netflix.    

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