You know when someone is daft enough to say; ‘if it’s alright with you, I’ll wait outside’, that it’s the horror movie equivalent of deciding to wear your red jersey on a Star Trek away mission. It doesn’t end well for that fellow in Richard Franklin’s 1986 creature feature Link.
Elizabeth Shue plays an American zoology student who volunteers to assist Dr Steven Philip (Terence Stamp) who is carrying out research into chimpanzee intelligence at his isolated old house on the English coast. Aside from Dr Philip the only other residents are three chimps: Voodoo, a violent elderly female, Imp a cute, cuddly baby and Link, a former circus performer, trained to be Philip’s butler (for some reason played by an orang-utan with his hair dyed black).
Well, it isn’t long before Shue finds herself alone in the house and the nasty stuff kicks off with Link spying on her in the bathroom. Before long she realises that something isn’t quite right and the formerly docile butler has turned into a bloodthirsty killer with several times her strength. Things don’t get much better when her boyfriend and his mates turn up either.
Shue makes a good stab at the woman alone in the creepy house with the evil beast, but it’s a real shame that Stamp’s character does not have more screen time. The apes are fantastic, although I suspect you would never be allowed to use animals in this way for a film today.
Franklin’s idea behind Link was to make ‘a sort of Jaws with chimps’ and the story was partially inspired by Jane Goodall’s research into violence amongst the primates. The thing about chimps over sharks though is that chimps are a lot smarter so keeping out of the water won’t save you from a chimp gone bad. The thing that made Link so effective as a chiller for me were the close ups of the benign expression on Link’s face, I could just imagine that behind his child-like visage he was thinking about doing something really nasty. Then there is the jolly circus type incidental music that accompanies Link whenever he turns up. Jerry Goldsmith’s creepy little tune kind of worms its way onto a repeat circuit within your consciousness, after watching the film it came with me on a three hour walk in Epping Forest and then around the supermarket!
Watch the trailer below…
Link was released on DVD on August 26 August by Network. DVD extras include the US and UK cinema trailers and an image gallery.
If you like British creature features with apes try the following film:
Konga (1961): Michael Gough plays Dr Decker, a scientist who’s rapid growth serum turns his pet chimp into ‘ a huge monster gorilla that’s constantly growing to outlandish proportions loose on the streets’ of London. It’s King Kong on the cheap.
Review by Simon Ball
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