Movie Name: Shakma
Studio: Castle Hill Productions
Release Date(s): October 5, 1990
MPAA Rating: R
A group of medical students are planning an overnight role-playing game with their professor (Roddy McDowall) in a research facility. When a crazed baboon gets lose in the locked down building, the horror begins as Shakma begins to kill all the students. It is a fight to escape the building and there can only be one winner.
Directed by Hugh Parks and Tom Logan, Shakma is a survival horror film. The movie was met with mixed reviews.
Animal horror movies are some of my favorites. The movies don’t have the logic of a serial killer movie and generally are about escape and being trapped…plus, it is always fun to see nature win on occasion. Shakma has a cheesy set-up and execution, but has some genuine moments…that baboon is crazy.
The roleplaying game aspect of the movie is downright stupid. It does provide a reason for the characters to be shut up in the building and does set-up the fact they can’t communicate with each other. I don’t however see most of this medical class and the professor getting into it. I also believe that students this smart would behave a bit more logically in the situation…the movie constantly has Shakma being trapped and released by the idiots who just don’t lock the baboon in a room and leave it. I do commend the movie for pulling no punches and killing characters you thought would live.
The acting is pretty poor. Christopher Atkins was never accused of being a good actor from his days in The Blue Lagoon and The Pirates Movie, but here, he’s almost as creepy as the baboon. Amanda Wyss’s tangle with Freddy Krueger was better than Shakma, but she gets a bigger role here and Kate & Allie’s Ari Meyers feels too young for the role since she’s almost ten years younger than the other leads. Roddy McDowall should have channeled his Cornelius from Planet of the Apes to try to talk to Shakma…
Shakma is the star of the movie. The baboon is genuinely frightening at points…especially when it takes off on two legs. The name comes from the Chacma baboon which ironically the baboon playing Shakma isn’t…he’s a Hamadryas baboon. Must of the “raging” Shakma was created by having a female baboon in heat hidden behind doors.
Shakma is a somewhat creative horror film. There is a lot of stuff that is wrong with Shakma, but there are a few genuine scares due to the strength of the wild baboon actor. Shakma also shows how horror has changed over the years. Now, the characters would have whipped out a cell phone and called police…Shakma would have been gunned down and everyone would have gone home. It is a bit of a less compelling story.