An experiment in terror!
Sometime in the middle '80s, someone thought that monkeys must have been really scary. How else do you account for not one but two killer monkey movies in a three year span? Before there was George A. Romero's Monkey Shines there was Richard Franklin's horror tale Link. Franklin had already honed his horror movie directing chops on Psycho II, though I'm not sure that's much preparation for making a movie about killer simians. Either way, Franklin toiled long hours to bring us Link, the story of an orangutan who seems to hold a grudge against everyone who walks on two feet. Franklin cast young ingénue Elisabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting, Hollow Man) in the role of Jane Chase, and Terrance Stamp (Superman II, The Limey) as the eccentric professor who lives with the mad monkeys. Anchor Bay steps in, brushes off an old '80s classic, and presents Link on DVD!
Facts of the Case
Jane Chase (Shue) is a young nubile grad student in London who is looking to become the assistant to the brilliant zoology professor Steven Phillip (Stamp). Professor Phillip is an eccentric older man who is raising monkeys in his old mansion in the middle of nowhere. Phillip also sports a hairstyle that would scare even Phyllis Diller. Phillip agrees to have Jane on as a hired hand at his mansion to help look after his chimps, cook, clean, et cetera. Basically, she's going to be Professor Phillip's housemaid. Jane seems okay with this and takes a taxi out to Phillip's mansion.
At the house, Professor Phillip lets Jane in on a few rules about the primates she'll be helping with: never get involved with their personal squabbles, always forgive them, and always let them know that you are the dominant species. Phillip introduces Jane to three of his "kids": two apes and a goofy orangutan named Link. Link wears a butler uniform and performs odd tricks like smoking cigars and answering the door. Phillip has been teaching the three primates menial tasks such as recognizing shapes and talking via a computer.
While Jane is taking care of things around the house, Prof. Phillip suddenly disappears. To make matters worse, she finds one of the other two monkeys dead in a closet. Guess who might be to blame? Jane is starting to get worried.
Suddenly Link starts to become uncontrollable. He knows how to unlock doors. Link understands how to start a match…
…and Link has found out how to kill.
Boy oh boy, there ain't nothin' better in life than a mad monkey movie! Who doesn't love the thrill of Neanderthals attempting to dodge the vicious attacks of killer chimps! More fun than a barrel of…uh, well, you know what.
I'm just going to start out by saying that Link was not very scary. How terrified can you be of a monster that spends half its waking life scratching its ass right before it smells its fingers? Like the movie Def-Con 4, I can recall seeing the video box art for Link and thinking it looked oh-so terrifying. The cover shows piercing eyes staring out at you like it is the Devil himself. Being the studious and generous reviewer that I am, I am going to dispel what I think is a commonly held belief: the monster in Link is not a monster at all. Instead, it's an orangutan aptly named "Link," who ends up going a little too koo-koo for coco puffs.
The plotline to Link rides on a very basic structure: a girl is all alone in a big house with a killer on the loose (and the killer eats bananas with his feet). The movie is often funny and inspired, hinging on the acting abilities (if you can them that) of the monkeys. Much like the movie Monkey Shines, Link's creators have done a fine job of getting great performances out of their simian stars. Sharing the screen with them is Elisabeth Shue as Jane and Terrance Stamp as Professor Phillip. Neither of these characters show much depth, but why should they? All they're needed for is to out think, out play, and out last a menacing orangutan. Shue is button cute as Jane, and Stamp is effectively weird as the professor who ends up getting more than he bargained for from his leaf-munching houseguests.
At the end of the day, what have we learned from Link? Let's summarize:
• Never under any circumstances should you stay in an isolated
mansion with wild animals (this includes Terrance Stamp's hairdo).
Link is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. As usual, Anchor Bay serves up another great transfer of a little known movie. The colors were all bright and clear, blacks deep and solid with only a hint of grayness to them. The image sometimes tends to have a bit of softness to it, though I have a feeling that's more due in part to the movie than Anchor Bay's transfer. Otherwise, this is a very nice job by Anchor Bay, and I am sure that Link fans will be pleased to see the movie finally in its original aspect ratio.
Audio is presented in Dolby Surround 2.0 in English only. This is a middle-of-the-road track, doing the job, though not impressively. I'm of the opinion that Link may have benefited from a new 5.1 remix. Even so, this is a fine mix with dialogue, effects, and music all clear. No subtitles are included.
The only bonus features Anchor Bay has thrown on this disc include a teaser trailer and a theatrical trailer for Link. These are nice to have, though Link fans will be disappointed at the lack of any other substantial supplements.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The main trouble is that Link is just not scary. Scene after scene I kept imagining some off-screen trainer with a grub in his hand, prodding Link to do his bidding. Except for some typical chimp screaming and yelling, Link looks about as cute as a teddy bear. He has those sad eyes and goofy grin that make you want to hold him in your arms and let him breast feed off your nipp…uh, I mean…you know, the uh…umm, let's just move on.
I know there are those of you out there who love Link. It may be because you really liked the movie, or maybe it's just a nostalgia thing. For me Link was not a bad movie, nor was it a great one. At the very least, I can say that it was entertaining. While Link may not rank high up on my "best of the '80s horror movies" list, it was still a lot of fun watching an orangutan have a conniption on screen. Anchor Bay has done a wonderful job with this disc, though a lack of extra material does disappoint.
What kind of cold hearted monster would I be if I locked up Link? Like he doesn't spend enough time in a cage as it is…
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Theatrical Trailer
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