5 Horrifying Monkey Movies You Might Have Missed

Image credit: Legion-Media, The Asylum

Fascinating stories about dangerous primates that you'd better stay away from.

The outbreak of monkeypox, now traveling the world, has forced many of us to take a slightly different look at our distant "relatives". Meanwhile, filmmakers have long viewed monkeys as interesting subjects for their films and, over the decades, have made quite a few movies in which gorillas, chimpanzees, and macaques appear as frightening beasts.

Link (1986)

The film's protagonist is a student named Jane (Elisabeth Shue) who works as an assistant to primate researcher Dr. Stephen Philip (Terence Stump). He lives in a lonesome house with two chimpanzees and an orangutan named Link, who is so clever that he acts as a butler. One day, the doctor goes to town and vanishes, after which Link turns into a real monster. Only a miracle can help Jane escape…

In Link, directed by Richard Franklin, the monster is an ordinary orangutan (in contrast to the giant ape in King Kong) who turns into an uncontrollable, strong, and intelligent killer beast that no human can handle.

Monkey Shines (1988)

Student Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) gets hit by a car and becomes almost completely paralyzed. His fiancée abandons him, further adding to his depression. Angry and miserable, Allan quarrels with his mother and the nurse looking after him. Then his friend Geoffrey Fisher (John Pankow), who is working on increasing monkeys' intelligence, decides to help and brings Allan one of his test subjects: the capuchin monkey Ella is meant to raise his spirits and assist him in his daily life. But Ella becomes so attached to her master she can harm anyone who comes between them…

Both in Aladdin and Pirates of the Caribbean, capuchin monkeys didn't look all that cute, but the master of horror George A. Romero made one that is so frightful it really evokes your inner zoophobia. Watching the movie can make you forever afraid of little capuchins… Monkey movies have never been so terrifying!

Congo (1995)

A tech company sends an expedition to the African jungle in search of blue diamonds for their laser project. While developing a diamond deposit, two experts find the ruins of a lost city — but both get killed by a pack of bloodthirsty gray gorillas. Another team is sent to search for them, joined by primatologist Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh). Elliott has taught sign language to his gorilla named Amy and uses a special device to translate her communication into human speech. His aim is to take Amy home to the jungle, and their trip is funded by someone named Herkimer Homolka (Tim Curry) who believes the gorilla will lead him to the legendary mines of King Solomon...

The adventure film by Frank Marshall (Eight Below) is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park). Though it was paid off at the box office, the film was severely criticized and received seven Golden Raspberry nominations and a 5.2/10 rating on IMDb. Today, the visuals and the story itself appear obsolete, but Congo still deserves a mention in this monkey selection: the gorillas in the movie are realistic enough to strike fear, and the sight of monkey muzzles stained with human blood still proves a scary spectacle.

Outbreak (1995)

Poachers smuggle a monkey (another capuchin!) from Africa to the US. They are unaware that the animal carries the terrible Motaba virus. The hemorrhagic fever caused by the virus has wiped out African villages, and while it's "on the loose" in the US, millions of people can be killed unless a vaccine is found. Now, to make the vaccine, the characters need to find the capuchin that happened to escape. What's more, they need to act fast because General McClintock is ready to stop the possible spread of the disease, and his solution is rather radical: he's going to drop a bomb on the infected hospital.

Zoombies (2016)

In a huge safari park, where wild animals live in almost their natural habitat and visitors can watch them from just a few meters away, something strange and frightening is going on. An infection had struck (you guessed it) a capuchin, who died and then revived, becoming an aggressive bloodthirsty zombie — a very fast and agile one, too. Soon, all the animals in the safari, from parrots to giraffes, turn into zombies, which certainly can't end well for the park staff…

Zoombies is the purest example of a grindhouse movie, which appears visually impressive despite being filmed on a minimal budget. The undead animals look natural and really creepy, and overall, the film may be described as "so bad it's even good" — and that's why a horror lover may take pleasure watching it.