Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Shakma (USA, 1990)

(Trailer) Crappy films like this give bad films a bad name. Badly filmed and badly acted, Shackma is neither hilariously lousy or mildly effective, but rather 100% predictable and boring, neither its body count nor blood level helping in any way to keep the viewer awake. Movies like this shouldn't even be relegated straight to video/dvd, but should rather simply not be made. Co-director Tom Logan may have some 15+ years experience as an actor in the realm of soap operas (including regular parts on General Hospital and The Young & The Restless), but this atrocity — and all the other tripe he’s directed since — proves that he obviously gleamed little insight on how to make a film over the years. Co-director Hugh Parks must have as little insight as Logan, for Shakma is so dull and uninteresting that were it not for the blood, the film could be mistaken for a low-budget TV movie. Was there an actual script written before they began filming, or did they make it up as they went along?
As far as killer monkey movies goes — a rather small genre, luckily enough — Shakma is not as much fun as the big-budget guilty pleasure Congo (1995) or half as good as the relatively dull oddity Link (1986). Unsurprisingly enough, the movie stars some true has-beens, the most noteworthy being Christopher Atkins and Roddy McDowell. Atkins has bigger biceps and less curls than he did in The Blue Lagoon (1980), but his acting ability hasn't improved any. As for McDowell, though a regular face with steady employment before his death of cancer in 1998, his name has for decades hardly meant quality. True, he had parts in many a trash classic, including but not limited to The Poseidon Adventure (1975), Legend of Hell House (1973), It! (1967) and The Loved One (1965), but he also was seen in such mistakes as Embryo (1976), Class of 1984 (1982) and Angel 4: Undercover (1993), not to mention the Planet of the Apes TV series in the 1970s.
Aside from that of the killer baboon, the only mildly surprising and interesting face in Shakma is that of Amanda Wyss, who is easily as attractive in Shakma as she was six years earlier when she played one of Freddie Kruger's original victims in the classic A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984). Still, like all characters in Logan and Park's movie, her character reacts so idiotically in the end that one isn't sorry to see her go.
In terms of body count films, Shakma is provides the typically minimal characterization of the future dead bodies and idiots wandering around alone despite the knowledge of lurking danger, but completely lacks the typical series creativity in terms of methods of death that makes classic trash like Friday the 13th (1980) so much fun. In Shakma, everyone simply gets their throat ripped out, but for one guy who gets acid in his face and then gets his throat ripped out (why the acid covering his chest doesn't burn the attacking ape as well is not explained).
The little story that is there consists of a bunch of students playing some sort of Dungeon & Dragons type game in a locked up medical building, not realizing that a killer baboon (named Shakma) is on the loose. A few eventually realize what is happening and, logically enough, continue to wander off alone and put themselves into greater danger until they too get ripped apart. In the end, it's only Atkins against the baboon, and though the man actually wins, he ends up bleeding to death on the floor as he crawls down the hall. Sound original and exciting? Sure, and Christopher Atkins is one of America's great underrated actors.....

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