|Directed by||Robert Young|
|Produced by||Charles Salmon|
|Written by||George LaVoo
|Starring||F. Murray Abraham
|Music by||Charles Olins
|Edited by||Anuradha Singh|
Thai Occidental Production
|Distributed by||Genius Entertainment|
Blood Monkey is a 2007 American direct-to-video natural horror film produced by RHI Entertainment and directed by Robert Young. It aired on various video on demand channels, before officially premiering in the United States on the Syfy Channel on January 27, 2008. Filmed in Thailand, it is the 1st film in the Maneater Series produced under an agreement with Syfy.
Reviewers panned the film, criticizing the acting, dialogue, plot, low quality special effects, and the lack of appearances by the titular monster, the monkeys. They also questioned the appearance of F. Murray Abraham in the film, though note that his performance was its only positive aspect.
Anthropological professor Conrad Hamilton attempts to study a new species of primate, possibly the missing link between humanity and the great ape, found in a hidden valley deep within the jungles of Thailand. Hamilton's initial research team tries to capture one of these new (and very large) primates, but fail and are all killed. Hamilton and his assistant Chenne, who survive because they are away from the camp site, scour the area looking for clues and remains of their team.
Meanwhile, another research team is inbound, this one a crew of college anthropology students with no idea of what they're in for. The students, Seth, Amy, Greg, Sydney, Josh, and Dani, are flown into a remote region of the Thai jungle, and picked up by a guide who drives them deeper into bush. He drops them off in a panic at the edge of trail/road, which leads further still into the foliage, claiming "bad things" are in there and won't go any further. He heads back the way he came, leaving the students to march forth into the unknown. They walk until they reach the end of trail and set up camp. As evening sets in, noises from the jungle raise suspicion until a set of glowing green eyes can be seen close by, watching. Just before the unknown creature attacks, Chenne arrives with a flare that scares off the unseen menace.
Chenne escorts the students to the relative safety of Professor Hamilton's camp, and the following day they meet the obsessed man and somewhat learn of his mission and their purpose. Hamilton professes of dream findings in an uncharted valley located deep within the jungle and their potential for career-launching documentation. He has Chenne confiscate their mobile phones and hand out information bracelets for each member that contain all of their emergency contact info, then he leads the slightly unwilling team to the valley entrance. After a pep talk, Hamilton convinces the students to continue and rappel down the cliffside and into the valley, although Josh is injured during the process.
On their first night in the valley, Hamilton passes around a skull and explains that it belongs to the creature he's looking for. The students cannot identify the skull since its characteristics are both human and primate in nature, but nearly twice the size of any known human or primate cranium. They are soon interrupted by a bloody survivor from the original research team, who Hamilton and Chenne quickly shelter and care for. The man dies shortly afterward, and Hamilton tells Chenne that the creatures let him go as a warning.
During the night, Sydney visits the outhouse, only to be dragged away into the jungle. The next morning, Hamilton tells the team that Sydney came to him scared and homesick and wanted to go home, so Hamilton has Chenne take her out of the jungle, leaving everyone suspicious. However, in another part of the jungle, Chenne is dragging Sydney through the brush and eventually leaves her, battered and beaten. Sydney eventually stumbles into an unseen creature that tears the right side of her face off.
The team continues to follow Hamilton and Chenne, who appear to be tracking something with a GPS reader. Unknown to the students, Hamilton is tracking each of the students by a hidden chipset in each of their bracelets. At the moment, he is tracking Sydney's bracelet. The team eventually demands more information about their expedition, and Hamilton comes mostly clean. The students remain unaware that they are being tracked, but resolve to steal the AK-47 in Hamilton's possession and maintain control of the situation to themselves. Seth begins leaving a trail through jungle by tying off pieces of cloth to trees.
On their third night, while the students are beginning to fashion their plan for the following day, a foul-smelling rain begins pouring down on their tents. Just as they recognize the smell as urine, Josh is yanked out of his tent and dragged up into the trees. Panic sets in as the team scatters and begins following his screams through the jungle. As Greg attempts to save Josh, Chenne accidentally shoots him, but then proceeds to tie him to a tree as bait. She camps out nearby with her gun, but one of the monsters sneaks up on Chenne and kills her before mauling Greg.
Hamilton runs across Seth during the chaos and knocks him unconscious after listening to his complaints. Hamilton locates the two remaining students, Dani and Amy, and continues his venture, ordering Dani to document everything with her video camera. Believing themselves to be the only survivors, both girls have little choice other than to follow the professor in hopes of being rescued. The professor successfully tracks Sydney's bracelet and finds it still attached to her severed arm which is dangling from a tree. Hamilton examines an apparent rigging done to the tree, only to spring a trap which results in several bamboo shoots impaling him through the back. He delivers a final address to the girls before he dies.
Just as they turn to run, it's revealed to be Seth, to their delight. They run back to their campsite, only to find it cleared of their tents and equipment. Completely panicked, they keep running while the monster seem to be following close by in the brush and in the trees. Dani is soon pulled up into the trees and killed, leaving only Seth and Amy standing. They run further still and reach a cave, where they see Seth’s entire cloth trail assembled and attached to the opening. They go into the cave and use the night vision from Dani's video camera to move around. At least one of the creatures follows them into the cave, grabs Seth and kills him.
Amy sheds light on one of the monsters for the first time, revealing it to be a large gigantopithecus with a bloody set of fangs. Several more gorillas enter the cave and Amy screams in terror as one of them bears down on her and kills her.
- F. Murray Abraham as Prof. Conrad Hamilton
- Matt Ryan as Seth Roland
- Amy Manson as Amy Armstrong
- Matt Reeves as Greg Satch
- Laura Aikman as Sydney Maas
- Sebastian Armesto as Josh Dawson
- Freishia Bomanbehram as Dani Sudeva
In October 2006, RHI Entertainment made a deal with the Sci Fi Channel to produce a series of ten made-for-television natural horror films to air on the network the following year. Dubbed the "Maneater" series by RHI Entertainment, Blood Monkey was the first film of the series to be released. Although the agreement called for the films to premiere on SciFi, the first six films in the series actually premiered in Canada on video on demand due to an existing pre-licensing agreement.
F. Murray Abraham felt his character was "so interesting because he is so monomaniacal". For one scene, in which the characters had to scale a high cliff, the actors learned abseiling—the controlled descent down a rope along an extremely steep cliff or slope—and performed the stunt themselves. Abraham said it was a "thrilling" challenge. Matt Ryan felt the most challenging part of filming the movie was all of the running through the jungle that was required for many scenes.
Blood Monkey premiered in Canada on the subscription-based video on demand channel Movie Central on Demand earlier in 2007 as well as other VOD channels before it aired on Syfy, then the Sci Fi Channel, on January 27, 2008. It was released on DVD on November 6, 2007 by Genius Entertainment, with no extras. The film was re-released to DVD on July 22, 2008 as one of three films included on the first volume of the "Maneater Series Collection" film sets. The other two films were In the Spider's Web and Maneater, the second and third films in the series, respectively.
Blood Monkey was heavily panned by critics. Horror.com's Staci Layne Wilson felt Blood Monkey was "abysmal" with forgettable, expendable actors following F. Murray Abraham. In reviewing the film for DVD Talk, author Nick Lyons thought the six students were "stereotypical" and expressed sorrow that "respected award winning actor F. Murray Abraham...lowered himself to star in this." Noting that other films in the genre are often "so bad it's good", he felt Blood Monkey failed to accomplish even this dubious achievement. Most of the film was deemed "unwatchable" for mostly having scenes of the characters walking about aimlessly and a seeming lack of production values. Monsters and Critics.com's Jeff Swindoll also questioned Abraham's apparently not knowing "better than to star in this dreck" as a "cheapjack version of Captain Ahab". He panned the film's laughable special effects, though he offered it minor praise for its "rather bleak ending" similar to the series' titular title Maneater. David Johnson of DVD Verdict criticized the film's low budget and "trite" acting, with no fright value when the actual creature doesn't appear until even the end of the film... Scott Weinberg, reviewing the film for FEARnet, considers the film "extra-stupid" and also notes the film's lack of appearances by the titular creature. Stating "the dialog is rotten, the actors are bad, and the FX are hilarious", he felt Abraham delivered "a patently perfect performance" and notes that he "gets progressively more outlandish as the movie goes on."
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