The only thing separating Blood Monkey from others of its ilk is the presence of Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham. He brings some class to what's generally another passable creature feature though he has set foot in the sub-genre before appearing in Mimic and fellow Sci-Fi Channel fare Shark Swarm. Otherwise it's business-as-usual as veteran British director Robert Young (Vampire Circus) puts his cast through the paces as they encounter some mild gore, milder adventure and have an unintentionally funny/dumb moment where our murderous apes pee on their tents - which is explained with the priceless line, "Some animals piss on their prey".
In the opening moments we see Professor Hamilton (Abraham) and his crew capturing a rare ape but before they get a chance to transport it back to the States it breaks free and kills pretty much anyone who gets in the way. However, the good Professor is spared giving him a chance to gather together a group of student researchers in order to head back into the jungle and attempt to re-capture the beast bringing himself not only glory but also a large chunk of change.
This, of course, doesn't sit well with Hamilton's charges when they find out his master plan, which doesn't really bother the Prof as he won't be thrown off course and has also brought along his psychotic local Native "assistant" Chenne (Prapimporn Karnchanda) who generally spits out some broken English and gets aggressive and abusive with everyone. After a pretty dull build-up with our students rappelling down a cliff and passing a junky looking giant skull around the campfire one evening while learning about the ancient apes they soon find themselves on the receiving end of the apes displeasure when they decide they don't wish to be captured. Cue our finale, which, after a slow first hour where Young keeps his creatures in the distance and mostly off-camera, has our generic cast of characters getting killed off.
Despite being fairly uninspired, Blood Monkey somehow manages to be a tiny bit more watchable than a good portion of the other films in RHI Entertainment's "Maneater" series - not a huge feat when you consider Vipers and Swamp Devil are included in the set. It was obviously made on the cheap over in Thailand giving the production a few decent jungle scenery moments but it tends to take itself too seriously most of the time and suffers from the usual Sci-Fi trappings of middling CGI effects and minimal plot. Young does actually manage to get a smidgen of suspense off in the last third and the final moments actually work pretty well.
Abraham's almost too good an actor to be here and I think he knows it as he shows no restraint in making Hamilton a tiny bit nutty as he tends to yell more often than not. Matt Reeves brings some much-needed comic relief to the proceedings and amuses as wise-ass Anthropologist Greg, Karnchanda must be seen to be believed and Amy Manson is sort of annoying as the script's selected heroine, Amy. The rest of the cast felt pretty much interchangeable.
When it comes to apes and horror I tend to like mine to lean more towards the sci-fi and misunderstood humanity of the original King Kong from 1933 or the outright "Stomp! Smash! Boom!" cheese of The Mighty Peking Man but I somehow managed to sit through all of Blood Monkey without much pain. It's your standard Sci-Fi fare that has just enough going for it to make it an okay choice if you're flipping through the channels and there's nothing else on, otherwise you'd be better off checking out the two movies mentioned above. (Chris Hartley, 3/24/10)
Directed By: Robert Young.
Written By: George LaVoo, Gary Dauberman.
Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Matt Ryan, Amy Manson, Freishia Bomambehran.