Link (1986)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Elizabeth Shue, Terrence Stamp
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

What is it with movies about monkeys? True, ’King Kong’ scared the crap out of a whole lot of folks way back when, but that was…well, way back when. Yet, Hollywood has never seemed to grow tired of bringing man’s furry friends to the silver screen. With this in mind, Anchor Bay brings us the terror tale of ’Link’ to DVD. Starring a young Terrence Stamp, an even younger Elizabeth Shue, and not one – but THREE monkeys, the question for ’Link’ remains: just how evolved is this one?

’Link’ is the story of Jane (Shue), an American student studying in England who is a big fan of one professor Dr. Phillip (Stamp). Phillip has written a book about the nature of chimpanzees and it’s safe to say that the animals aren’t the only things Jane is interested in. Instead of perhaps taking one of the Dr.’s classes, Jane pursues an ad to be an assistant of his, only to find out that he was actually looking for sperm donors (which are naturally hard to find on college campuses). But since Jane seems so eager to work with the professor, Dr. Phillip proposes that she come out to his house during the summer vacation to assist him in his work with his three personal chimps. So, summer comes round and Jane takes off to the professors house, which is surprisingly a mansion overlooking the ocean in the middle of nowhere, and it is at the door where she first meets Link. An altogether evil-looking orangutan, Link answers the door in a tuxedo and shows Jane to her room, even carrying her bags for her. While the monkey originally sets her off a bit, it is the new side of Dr. Phillip that makes things really uneasy for Jane. She soon learns of his plan to sell Voodoo, another of his chimps, and gets a peek at the scientific experiments the professor’s been performing in an attempt to increase the animals’ intelligence. Apparently, however, the beasts are already smarter than he realizes and also aren’t too fond of his idea to start getting rid of them, therefore they do want beasts do and stage a mini-revolt against Dr. Phillip while Jane is out of the room. When Jane comes into the room, Dr. Phillip is nowhere to be found and Voodoo is dead. From here on out, Jane struggles to try and find Phillip without completely turning her back on Link, who’s been acting a bit odd to say the least.

While ’Link’ starts out better than one might expect, the film quickly loses steam once Stamp exits stage left. After listening to Elizabeth Shue talk to monkeys for ten minutes as if she earnestly expects them to open their mouths and respond, I was about ready to hit the ol’ mute button. It’s not all bad though, as there are some tense moments, which are staged very much like a slasher flick. The thing that makes them more interesting, however, is that you never really know if Link is friend or enemy. He’ll look at you like he wants to kill you (I know what you’re thinking, he’s a monkey – but he really is just creepy looking!), then turn around and go about his business, inflicting no harm and giving no real reason to be concerned. Of course, with a movie like this you can pretty much figure out the end way before it happens. Don’t expect a whole lot of surprises.

Anchor Bay has done a decent job with the transfer for ’Link,’ though it won’t light your screen on fire. Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), the picture often looks grainy and the colors are fairly muted. Still, it is generally a clean print and there is little edge enhancement or noise. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and is basically satisfactory. The opening POV sequence (as unrelated to the rest of the film as it may be) features some nice sound effects work and dialogue is clean and free of distortion. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is a little heavy and too circus-like for my tastes, but sounds fine on the disc.

If you’re in the mood for a unique ‘80’s thriller and a bit of campy fun, then this is definitely a flick worth checking out. Also of note is a bit of trivia: ’Link’ was produced by Rick McCallum, who later re-teamed with Stamp to make another little monkey movie, ’Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’