Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ten Statements About....LINK (1986)

When an ape loves an actress.....
"He missed the bus by a lousy one percent. That one percent counts for all of human civilization, the entire history of art, music, science, literature...everything you're willing to give up on so you can go away and live with badgers."

1) Given the way this film shakes out, accompanied frequently by Jerry Goldsmith's rather...circusy soundtrack, I really have to wonder if somewhere down the line of this production it was meant as a black comedy.

2) Even though it's very obvious that Terrance Stamp's Dr. Phillips is done away with fairly early on, it's to director Richard Franklin's credit that I didn't accept that his character wasn't coming back until I realized over thirty minutes had passed with just Elisabeth Shue inteacting with an orangutan and a chimp.

3) While there is some references to Dr. Phillips experimenting stimulate Link's intelligence, the genius is that Link's behavior can be explain within the realms of actual ape behavior. He's exceptionally clever in terrorizing Shue's Jane, and is obviously acting out of self-preservation, but he's still emotionally just an animal motivated by animal instinct.

Thankfully, the sport of monkey pulling didn't catch on....
4) I know Link was played by an actual orangutan named Locke at times...but Locke was an exceptional actor. There are moments in this film where you see the actor reacting with a twist of its lips, or staring with these weird, soulful eyes where you swear he's in the scene, not just reacting to a trainer offscreen. And speaking of that monkey...

5) Naked Elisabeth Shue being peeped on by itself would be creepy...but Elisabeth Shue trying to persuade Link to go away as it stands in the doorway naked staring at her frankly...brrrrrr.

6) There is no reason whatsoever for Steve Pinner's David and his mates to be in this movie, except to show up in the third act and provide Link with some extra victims to slaughter. Although, admittedly, it was cool that Franklin thought to reverse the usual trope by making Pinner the Girl School Screamer and Shue the hero who saves him.

7) I find it fascinating that this was produced by Dr. Who's Verity Lambert when she was heading EMI during its disastrous final days. And knowing this was typical of the films that Lambert greenlit during her tenure explains a lot.

"You wanna piece of me?  Well, do you?  DO YOU?"
8) I was struck the many, many tracking shots through and, in one instance, over walls. Sometimes it's to give us a 'beast eye's view' of Link's activity, but overall it gives the film a definite whiff of giallo to it...which, to be fair, is a change of pace from Franklin's usual Hitchcock love.

9) I'll admit it--even with the really, really obvious fake rottweiler after the fact, Link's murder of the animal in defense of Jane during the early part of the second act is pretty shocking, and maybe is the best scare of the film.

10) I love how Stamp gives Shue a list of rules...which Shue promptly violates quickly throughout the film. But then, if she wasn't on some level a dumbass, there would be no film.

Overall...a weird, weird film, very unlike the other entries in Franklin's filmography. I don't know if it would work for everyone, but if you're in the mood for something offbeat, you might want to give it a look.

Plus, 80's era Elisabeth Shue--albeit a seriously deglamourized one. If you grew up during the 80's, that might be enough.

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