Cult Cinema: Blue Monkey

Andrew reviews the forgotten Canuxploitation flick, Blue Monkey!

Should have worn protection. 
Where to begin with this one?  Which of the three titles is it, actually?  Green Monkey, Insect, or the perversely bizarre and inexplicable one they ultimately settled on, Blue Monkey?  A giant killer insect Canuxploitation (Canadian exploitation) flick that somehow precluded the equally execrable but far more expensive The Fly II, it's another one of those movies were an epidemic terrorizes a hospital with many scenes of terrified onlookers running for their lives as they're pursued by a rubber ant monster hastily worn by an unlucky puppeteer.  Why is it called Blue Monkey?  We will never find out but if, like the film, saying the title out loud is designed to make people laugh then it has brilliantly succeeded.  This is low budget camp with it's tongue firmly planted in cheek as well as a startlingly talented ensemble cast.  The film prominently features Steve Railsback channeling the mania of his performance in Lifeforce, John Vernon typecast once again as an evildoer, unexpected cameos by Robin Duke and Joe Flaherty as an expecting couple and Sarah Polley as a child patient in one of her earlier roles.  

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Holy schnikes!!! It's the '80s!!!
A jokier take on David Cronenberg's Shivers with far less uncomfortable sexuality onscreen, Blue Monkey depicts a parasite emerging from an elder's gullet which looks not unlike a living piece of human fecal matter with a monofilament wires tugging at it.  I honestly don't know which is funnier, the turgid thing being dragged away by wire or the blase reactions of doctors who aren't the least bit phased about an alien looking creature crawling about their lab.  Equally silly is the science lab from Honey I Blew Up the Kid is just around the corner in this hospital because, hey, most hospitals have revolutionary multimillion dollar science experiments transpiring behind closed doors.  Soon after children in this security free hospital break into the lab where the parasite is being kept and inadvertently feed it a growth agent which turns the parasite into a giant ant/fly/mantis hybrid thing or whatever you want to call it.  It doesn't take long for sexy nurses to deliver screams directly into the camera ala 1950s drive-in flicks and for Steve Railsback to fly off the rails.  Here and there we're treated to some inspired effects work, as with a hive where human victims are cocooned in a translucent bubble to be slowly absorbed by the creature and the 80s Adam Greenberg-esque blue lighting effectively hides many of the technical limitations of the creature.  This wouldn't be a cheeseball throwaway Canuxploitation flick without a hefty dose of Casio keyboard music by Patrick Coleman and Paul Novotny, whose "stellar" work managed to land them, well, a couple more jobs.

Look at all that distortion.
Gotta love VHS!
To my knowledge, Blue Monkey only ever received a VHS and Betamax release with not even so much as a laserdisc let alone a DVD release in sight.  Released theatrically in 1987 with three separate posters for the multiple titles this thing got saddled with, Blue Monkey has all but been forgotten with exception to VHS aficionados willing to shell out $40 for a used copy.  As it stands, it's pretty generic drive in exploitation trash but under the right circumstances can be a lot of corny fun.  It doesn't take itself the least bit seriously and is most certainly spoken of the same breath as the far more technically proficient and enduring Them! as well as fodder like The Deadly Mantis and Tarantula.  

You know you're in good company when you have Steve Railsback as your hero, ready to blow into scenery chewing at any second.  Not as funny as I hoped it would be but overall Blue Monkey is a swell time if you're slightly intoxicated with a group of friends looking for an old fashioned sci-fi horror laugh.  It is far more entertaining and enjoyable than the frankly idiotic and disappointing The Fly II and it takes itself far less seriously.  Does Blue Monkey deserve a DVD or blu-ray release?  Maybe but that would take away from the campy and trashy charm of a forgotten VHS killer insect flick with one of the strangest titles ever given to a movie, period.


- Andrew Kotwicki