Apes, monkeys, gorillas, and other primates have enchanted and terrified us so called evolved folks for generations. Starting with stories like "The Monkey's Paw" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue" they have evoked images of humanities's most primal fears and primitive desires. Great stuff for horror and sci-fi movies! Whether they are merely something to advance the story like in 2001: A Space Odyssey and 28 Days Later or the Main subject as in the highly anticipated Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Simians are a rich part of our cinematic history. So being a member of The Church of the Jeebus Monkey of modern day primates and the fact that we're coming up on a family picnic holiday weekend I decided to cook up a list about the evolution of simian cinema.
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
Like most Poe adaptations it had little to do with the original story but it did have Bela Lugosi and a man in an ape suit combined with shots of a chimpanzee to create this morbid, monkey madness!
King Kong (1933)
The most iconic of films featuring a giant ape. In 1991, it was deemed "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry (source wikipedia). It featured stop motion animation and special effects from pioneer Willis O'Brien to create The Mighty Monarch of Monkey Melodramas!
The Ape Man (1943)
Bela Lugosi is at it again as mad scientist Dr. Brewster with a gorilla assistant and a ghost hunting sister. He's made himself half ape with his experiments and needs human spinal fluid to bring himself back to his old self.
Gorilla at Large (1954)
An independent film with an all star cast and in 3D! I don't now what to say so I'll let John Landis tell you about it.
"I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there's something better than man"
-Astronaut George Taylor (Charleton Heston)-
The Planet of the Apes (1968)
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, Kim Hunter, James Whitmore, James Daly, and Linda Harrison. The film was a blockbuster hit. It received an Oscar for it's groundbreaking make up effects and spawned four sequels as well as a live action and animated TV show. One of my all time favorite movies everyone should see this film . If you don't believe me ask John Landis
Monkey Shines (1988)
From the legendary George Romero comes this tale about a cute little Capuchin helper monkey and the quadriplegic he is suppose to be helping. The bond they form tragically becomes psychic and the monkey becomes homicidal all thanks to another "Experiment in Fear" being performed on him. When will we learn that experimenting on primates could really piss them off.
If experimenting on primates wasn't bad enough, it's really a bad idea to get involved in a role playing game while you're locked inside the same building as the labs and your professor as well as the game master is Roddy McDowell! This would drive any genetically modified baboon ape shit crazy! It is fun just to yell SHAAAAKMAAAAA though.
Since 1990 movies have evolved significantly. I'm glad we're to the point where another good Planet of the Apes can be made. I know there are some movies I may have missed let me know in the comments below. If you want you can even throw in some missing link movies. I think primates have evolved, It's the humans I worry about, so don't monkey around too much this weekend. I hope you Gorilla up something tasty!