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Director: Tom Logan / Hugh Parks
Cast: Christopher Atkins, Amanda Wyss, Ari Meyers, Roddy Mcdowell
Scorpion Releasing / Region 0 / Rated R / 1.78:1Anamorphic Widescreen / English Mono / 102 minutes
Disc Extras: Watch in "Katarina's Bucket List Mode"
Does anybody out there remember when Cinemax used to show a new horror movie every Thursday night? For an adolescent like me at the time, catching Troma films and Full Moon flicks was the greatest thing ever. Cable TV for my generation was the equivalent to the drive-in theatre. The film Shakma was born out of that early '90s bloody cable TV craze. God, I miss it. Horror fans in their 30s and 40s know what I'm talking about. It's too bad Cinemax decided to nix their Thursday night horror tradition and replace it with drama movies. Oh, the humanity! Anyway, on with the review for Shakma, the killer with the famous red ass.
What do college kids like to do on Friday nights? Drink, party, and have sex, right? Nope. The answer is, they like to play live action Dungeons & Dragons role playing games. Duh. Ditch the condoms and Jack Daniels and replace them with goofy costumes and acne. What could make this game more interesting? A princess in peril? A guy in a rubber mask pretending to be a monster? A dork who chews his gum obnoxiously every other word he speaks? Roddy McDowall acting very annoyed at anybody and everything? Oh, I got it. Throw in a raging baboon that was supposed to be euthanized for being too aggressive. That'll get the dorks shitting their pants. A group of college kids are trapped in a building with a killer baboon on the loose. It's that simple. Shakma has a slasher movie feel to it. Just replace the killer with a baboon, slaughter some kids, and presto, you got a marketable movie. Not so fast!
Okay, Shakma doesn't exactly have dynamic characters. Sam, the hero, is a pretty boy who tries to save everybody from the bloodthirsty baboon. We get a princess, who is younger than Sam, and has a crush on Sam, and isn't that cute? Sam's girlfriend, Tracy, is the practical one who tries to be the tough female. You got Gary, the token black guy (he calls himself this; if you check the Amazon reviews for this release of Shakma, Gary (Robb Morris) has actually written a review and includes tidbits about being in the film). Professor Sorenson (Roddy McDowall) acts like everybody is a gnat flying in his ear, and he wants to swat them into oblivion. Most of the characters don't do much beyond adding numbers to the body count. Let's be honest. And that's okay.
There might be a small downside to Shakma and I didn't expect it; this movie is super bleak. Without spoilers, I'll say this much. Things don't go well. Everybody's hopes and dreams are ruined, and the ending makes you feel terrible inside. George Romero's Monkey Shines has a similar downbeat atmospheric quality, but Shakma takes it to another extreme. You want to walk away happy, viewer? Not happening, bitches. And let's not forget our star, "Shakma" the baboon. That's who we came to see, right? It's interesting to have a live animal chasing after distressed college students. There's no CGI. You get plenty of shots of that red ass and our angry animal pounding on doors and stalking hallways. Maybe it's my imagination, but the ass gets redder as our baboon spills more blood. I liken it to a butt mood ring. I love that primate.
Shakma deserves a second look by those who lived the late '80s/early '90s cable TV horror-thon. This movie was made for you. Those who haven't seen the film should give it a first look. Our killer baboon won't polarize horror fans or change the face of horror, but it does one thing successfully, and that is it gives you something interesting to watch for an evening. Most new horror movies can't even accomplish that anymore. Shakma, I dub thee the "Slasher Killer with the Best Ass". Scorpion Releasing has put out the best-looking version of the film to date. You see some specks on the print every once in awhile, but it's nothing that disturbs the viewing experience. The HD looks great. You can actually see details of people's torn out throats. You gotta love that gory HD. Skip watching the feature in "Katarina's Bucket List Mode" unless you like rolling your eyes at stupidity. Maybe you should watch it sitting beside Roddy McDowall's annoyed character. Now that would be a fun movie mode!
For more by horror/sci-fi/exploitation writer Alan Spencer, check out his AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE!