George A. Romero wasn’t just the master of zombies. The proof with Monkey Shines (Route incidents), a terrifying monkey film whose complex production somewhat disgusted the filmmaker from the Hollywood industry.
The recent exhumation of the incredible The Amusement Park proved once again not only that George A. Romero still has nuggets for us to discover, but also that he is far from being the only one who popularized the zombie around the world. Season of the Witch, Martin, knightriders…His filmography overflows withworks diverse, not always horrifying, sometimes called minor – wrongly – by fans of Night of the Living Dead and often misunderstood at the time of their release.
Monkey Shines is one of them. Received with suspicion in 1988, by critics and spectators, it testifies to the ambition of the master, but also to his difficulties in coming to terms with the image that Hollywood executives attached to him after the success of his living dead. Back to the complex genesis of an ape-like anomaly.
The jungle Book
Michael Stewart started writing in the early 1980s. After two political thrillers, he devoted himself to medical horror with two novels: Monkey Shines and far cry. It was good for him, since he thus attracted the attention of Hollywood and more particularly of MGM/UA, which put an option on the two books for the modest sum of 20,000 dollars. Except that seven months later, they still haven’t done anything about it and the option expires. This is the opportunity Charles Evans, producer of Tootsiewho sees in the first the opportunity to reconnect with success.
Romero, meanwhile, is at the height of his glory. Still crowned with the success of creepshowhe nevertheless had to restrict himself to his next film, Day of the Living Deadwhich he saw as a flamboyant zombie fresco until the budget was halved, due to his refusal to limit himself to an R classification. So when the producer came to see him, through a collaborator, with a budget of 7 million and a chilling story unrelated to putrefied flesh, he enthusiastically accepts. Under the tutelage of the Orion studio, the two men set to work.
They have their work cut out for them. First, you have to modify the original text without offending the author too much. The scenario writer delivers an enormous scenario of two hundred and twenty pages, reduced at the cost of many disputes with Evans. The writer sees the process in a good light. It must be said that Romero’s version, the one we will see on screen (or almost, see below), admirably extends the medical themes of the original material while inserting its whims, such as the vision of a natural creature. made evil by the injection of a part of humanity. The legendary misanthropy of the director, here almost philosophical, finds its place there..