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Film Review: Blue Monkey (1987)

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SYNOPSIS:

While working in a greenhouse, a man receives an insect bite after touching an exotic plant. Immediately, he falls ill and is taken to an emergency room where the doctors diagnose him as suffering from an unknown bacteria, and a strange parasite which emerges from his mouth as a large slimy wormlike creature. Soon, there are more cases of bacterial infection, but the more immediate problem for the hospital is the wormlike creature which after accidental exposure to a genetic growth stimulant grows to monstrous proportions and starts a reign of terror and bloodshed in the hospitals abandoned wing.

REVIEW:

I have to admit up front that I am a fan of low budget practical horror films from the 80s. They aren’t always very good, in fact most of the time they really stink on ice. But there’s something about them that makes me happy. It’s the same feeling I get watching cheesy 1950s science fiction films. So dated, so ridiculous, and so much fun.

Let’s start with the title – Blue Monkey. I have no idea what the title has to do with anything going on in the story other than the whole film is washed in blue gels. The film was written by George Goldsmith (who also worked on the screenplay for Stephen King’s Children of the Corn) and Chris Koseluk. Director William Fruet has had quite the career, working on such projects as The Ray Bradbury Theater, The War of the Worlds tv series, and RL Stine’s Goosbumps.

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Our story begins in the greenhouse of Marwella Harbison (Helen Hughes). Handyman Fred (Sandy Webster) gets stuck with a thorn from a rare island plant that Marwella is caring for. The cut gets infected almost immediately, and Fred is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

Here we are introduced to a host of characters, including a supporting role played by Joe Flaherty (SCTV) as an expectant father. I’m always pleased to see him show up in anything. His very presence makes every film better, in my opinion. Alas, you don’t get a lot of him in this film. His wife Sandra is played by Robin Duke, another SCTV alumni.

We also have Detective Bishop (Steve Railsback) who has come in by ambulance at the same time with his inured partner, who was shot in a criminal chase. The detective becomes our way into the inner workings of the hospital, as he develops a relationship with ER doctor Judith (Susan Anspach).

Then we have a wonderfully endearing gaggle of children who are patients in the hospital. This little group is led by Leukemia patient Joey (Stuart Stone, who has grown up into quite an amazing career), and he gets them into all sorts of rascally trouble. Also of note, one of this little group is played by Sarah Polley, who would later appear in films such as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Dawn of the Dead.

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I must mention the hospital adminstrator, played by the always wonderful John Vernon. You would know him from such classics as Animal House and it’s ill-fated tv series Delta House. In fact, you would know him from everything made throughout the 70s and 80s.

Marwella is placed into isolation, just in case she is infected with whatever Fred has. And here we meet probably my favorite character in the film – Marwella’s blind friend Dede (Joy Coghill), who has the inate ability to sneak her way into every secure area of the hospital, and also smuggle in liquor. My kind of friend, right there.

And so the stage is set. Poor Fred dies, and from his mouth emerges a worm-like monstrosity. Of course the doctors put it in a bell jar and want to study it. And of course, this can only end badly. The little wiggler gets loose and other people start showing signs of the same infection as Fred. The hospital staff contact the local CDC who, in typical 80s “fear the future” fashion, quarantine the hospital and lock it down with heavily armed military personnel.

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The little worm starts to become somethIng else, and people start disappearing. The military outside…the monster inside…and all those doctors and patients trapped in the middle. Let the games begin!

While the cast alone is worth the price of admission, this is a horror film. And we have to talk about THE MONSTER. Our creature goes through several stages of metamorphosis, all of which were created by Sirius Effects. While the practical effects in this film are very much a product of the time period, the monster’s final stage of evolution is simply beautiful. At this point in the film, the monster is played by actor Ivan E. Roth. He appeared in a number of films in this time, including Night of the Creeps, Night of the Comet, and Tales from the Crypt (tv series).

Sirius Effects has created an amazing monster. Simply stunning to look at, and quite frankly not just a little scary. The film has elements of Aliens, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Poisiden Adventure. So much going on, as is typical for these films back then.

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I really enjoyed this film, a lot more than I thought I would. The effects are really good for the time, and visually the director gave us a good show.

So on a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 7 wiggle worms.

One comment

  1. John Marinaro

    Greatest movie ever.

     

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