A blog exploring the sexy, shocking, surreal, and silly side of horror films.

August 8, 2010

Link (1986)

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Link (1986) 
Director: Richard Franklin

When I was a young lad, the VHS cover for Link used to give me nightmares. In fact, anything dealing with a killer ape, monkey, or simian-like Sasquatch was enough to give me the heebies followed by a reoccurring sweat of the jeebies. Little did I know, however, that behind the snarling and eerily illuminated ape face on the VHS box there waited a tepid movie with so few scares it scarcely belongs in the horror genre.


Jane Chase (Elisabeth Shue) his hired to be the personal assistant to Dr. Steven Phillip (Terence Stamp), a primate researcher. Dr. Phillip is conducting communication and IQ experiments with chimps at his isolated and rural estate in the UK. How isolated is it? On one side is a rocky cliff face falling steeply into the ocean. On the other side are miles of open fields apparently prowled by wild dogs. Jane comes to live with Dr. Phillip and meets his three test subjects: Imp, a mischievous chimpanzee; Voodoo, an older and more feral chimp; and Link, a former circus ape who dresses in human clothes and performs as butler around the house. Link's also very fond of matches as he was known in his circus days as the "Master of Fire". When Dr. Phillip decides to have Link euthanized, Dr. Phillip mysteriously disappears, and Link begins to exhibit some bizarrely intelligent, possessive, and violent tendencies that keep Jane isolated in the house and at Link's disposal. Soon, people and apes start to die by Link's hands, and Jane tries in vain to escape.

Rating: 2 / 5 Arsonist Orangutans


Apes can be scary. Despite how we dress them up and teach them cute tricks to comically mimic human behaviour, apes are capable of a sudden and primal ferocity. When coupled with their small frames yet immense physical power, even the playful chimpanzee can be a threatening force of violence. Unfortunately, Link fails to capture any sense of dread or terror. For one, the kills are all off screen except for one scene in which Link pushes someone down a well. There's very little blood, and when Link finally does goes apeshit near the end of the film, there's just no suspense. The whole thing plods along while Link -- who by the way is actually an Orangutan died brown and not a chimp as the film seems to imply -- runs around in tiny dress clothes banging on doors and windows. Yawn.

Terence Stamp (L) meets his stunt double (R) on the set of Link
In terms of outright silliness, the film's score is the major offender. In Link, the main theme is a horrible synthesis of synthetic jungle pop with circus music, and the rest of the score feels as bouncy and frolicsome as the theme from Gremlins. Whenever Link strolls onto the screen, even when he's hunting down Jane in the house, he's accompanied by a circus-like tune that makes you laugh rather than scared. It's a dull excuse for horror, and not over-the-top enough to be camp or a send up of other killer ape films.

Some apes, it seems, are classier than others.

If you're not aware, Monster Chiller Horror Theatre embraces a very broad definition of "sexy" that can be boiled down to a simple lowest-common-denominator: nudity. For fans of the female form, Link certainly gives as a worthwhile peek at a young Elisabeth Shue completely in the buff. Check out this hot action.
While disrobing to take a bath, Jane is visited by a very intense Link who forces himself into the bathroom. You know he's up to something lascivious because he's taken off his dress clothes. Jane, too, is completely nude and although the camera does not dwell on Elisabeth Shue's very beautiful body for long, we do get an eyeful of what made her a crush object for so many men in the 1980s. The sexiness of the scene is soiled, however, given that Link is ogling Jane intently, implying -- but never actualizing -- a disturbing theme of ape-on-woman sexual violence.


What does Link have to offer? A goofy soundtrack, some fleeting nudity, flat dialogue on the part of Shue, and apes running around being silly or growling. I could commend some of the camera work and crane shots, or I could point out the beautiful coastal UK setting, but none of that really matters in the end. Link isn't scary. Link isn't interesting. Link is a dud of a movie. But, let's not end this review on a flat note.

Link is in reality an orangutan, yes? He wants and likes fire, right? Well, so does another more exciting and interesting fictional ape that I know. Let's end this review, then, with a musical number from the Jungle Book's King Louie.

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