He takes another sip of his coffee and begins to write about Shakma, although he truly feels that the title should always be written in all caps and yelled -- SHAKMA! -- because that's the way it should be.
So I had heard about SHAKMA! since it's release 20 years ago, having seen the poster and having caught bits and pieces playing at the awesome video store that displayed said poster back-in-the-day. I also missed a screening of it at the Cinefamily a couple years ago, but I didn't miss out on one of my all-time favorite tweets about that film, one that displayed the sheer joy gained out of watching a killer baboon doling out raw psycho street-style ownage to a bunch of med students -- and after finally watching SHAKMA! the other night, I'd have to agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly.
See, SHAKMA! takes place in this medical research building located in Orlando, Florida and I guess Shaquille O'Neal was off playing ball somewhere else because I'm sure Shaq Diesel would've stepped in early in the film and stopped these assholes from doing what they were about to do, which is put some poor baboon (the titular SHAKMA!) through a surgical procedure that apparently involved reaching into SHAKMA!'s inner wiring and flicking the setting switch to Evil, because Dr. Shaq's a good dude and he wouldn't have stood for that kind of cruelty to animals in the name of science. He would've given Professor Sorenson (played by Roddy McDowall) and his students a stern talking to, because that's how my boy Shaqma rolls.
But alas, Shaq Daddy was not there to teach these...scientists...a lesson, so McDowall and company go ahead and power-saw SHAKMA!'s head open and fuck with it something awful. So they do what they do, and then cart the passed-out baboon to wherever you put the passed-out baboons. Then the movie introduces who I'm pretty sure is going to be the main dude, a med student played by Christopher Atkins From The Blue Lagoon (that's his official full name, he changed it to include the movie he's best known for). We see him fucking around with his chick, a fellow med student played by Amanda Wyss from Silverado and A Nightmare on Elm Street (but she only goes by the name Amanda Wyss).
Atkins and Wyss have a cool thing going on; he likes to push her buttons, or at least I hope that's what he's doing, and that he really doesn't honestly think that she's a "militant feminist" just because she's not interested in the life of a happy homemaker -- darning the socks, cooking the dinners, making the babies. I mean, c'mon, Atkins, if that's what she really wants to do, then why would she be in fuckin' medical school, ya fuckin' jackass? Better yet, why are you in fuckin' medical school? Obviously you don't have the capacity in your man-animal brain to understand where this chick is coming from, let alone the intricacies of the human body.
He also fails to grasp the idea behind having animals at a research facility, I mean, did he think they were placed there to boost morale? Sorry, chief -- all those rats and monkeys are there to get Hostel'd on in the name of Science. But I guess he didn't know that, because as soon as he finds out that his beloved SHAKMA! is now a bloody baboon who had his brain cut up, he gets all emo about it, which I guess triggers the psychic bond that is created whenever Man and Animal become very close, because suddenly SHAKMA! wakes up and is immediately open for ass-handing-back business. He takes a swipe at some random douche and then another douche hits the alarm, causing McDowall to arrive, dressed like he just came from the local Dress Like Pee-Wee Herman contest, where he placed 11th because the colors and material have to be same, not just the particular types of clothing, I mean c'mon, he didn't even have the right shoes. Anyway, in the end, wannabe Pee-Wee is able to sedate SHAKMA!
Pure fuckin' incompetence -- that's what really sets this party off. McDowall gives Atkins the simple task of shooting up SHAKMA! with a particular sedative (I think it's supposed to kill the baboon, I'm not sure because I was sooooo fuckin' blitzed while watching this) and this fool actually manages to fuck that up; Atkins ends up grabbing the wrong vial because he was looking the other way while grabbing it -- remember, this is a man who is pursuing a career that involves having responsibility for the health and well-being of others. So because he shot SHAKMA! up with what I'm guessing was a very light tranquilizer, or SuperAIDS version 2.0 (commissioned by the CIA), our baboon is only taking a nap for the time being while a group of these wannabe Dr. Houses are setting up for a weird Mazes and Monsters type of game, to be played in the research building after hours. Somehow they got McDowall to take part as the Game Master -- shit, the whole thing might have been his nerdy idea, I don't remember.
So yeah, this game; the building is locked up and most of the lights are shut off, allowing the group to split up and go around looking for keys and clues and shit, trying to either find or stay away from Nemesis, who I guess is like the douchey frat-boy minotaur in the labyrinth that is the research building. This Nemesis guy, he's not the Resident Evil villain or the Albert Pyun movie, he's just one of the med students and he's been asked to take part in the game, and he has to wear a stupid monster mask when playing as Nemesis. Meanwhile, his chick is waiting outside in her car, listening to the most awesome generic jazzy synthesizer music on her tape deck.
The game players all keep in contact with each other, using the kind of walkie-talkies you beg your dad to buy you at Toys R Us, and then you bitch about 'em afterward because you can't hear shit, but hey, at least they came with a Morse Code button that you never properly used and a Morse Code key that you never bothered to learn. Meanwhile, McDowall is chilling out in his office (at this point, he's now dressed like someone who should be sliding me a cold mug of Budweiser with one hand, while wiping down the bar with the other), keeping tabs on their locations with a map on his computer. This is what you did for fun in 1990, I guess. I'm not judging, because to be honest with you, I wish I could play something like that, but I don't know, I'm afraid of people or something.
But I'm not afraid of the bearded med student/computer nerd who's either got a stroke or is gay, based on the way he speaks, because that would be wrong, to be afraid; during a conversation with Atkins, he pronounces "game master" like he wanted to cut it off at the first half of the first syllable, creating a key that would unlock the gates to a whole new world of acceptance and understanding, but he won't. He probably secretly hopes that his lisp will be enough to out him, and his friends will pick up on it and not be hateful dicks to him because of his alternative lifestyle. Or maybe that's just how the actor playing him thinks computer nerds talk. Anyway, he's the first to get fuckin' merked by SHAKMA! and even his death stare is annoying.
There's this young girl, played by a young adult, and she's the Nemesis guy's little sister; she's part of the game, playing some kind of princess who awaits the winner of the game in the top floor, ready to award the person who saves her with underage poon or something, I don't fuckin' know. All I know is that she has a thing for Atkins, and maybe he has something for her, based on the pervy looks they share. But it's mostly her who is doing the staring, usually while Atkins is busy doing something else and not paying attention. Man, that would be awesome to have that happen to me, to be the one lovingly stared at, rather than be the one doing the staring -- and better yet, I'm not being stared at because of my usual freaky/ugly/fatty ways, no, not at all, I'm being stared at because somehow this nice girl looks at all of this fat brown pockmarked flesh and the first thought that goes through her twisted head is not Call The Cops Call The INS, but instead it's I Want That.
So while these assholes are playing their game, SHAKMA! is prowling the fuckin' hallways, being a fuckin' boss and occasionally owning a motherfucker. The first time SHAKMA! does his thing, it's when one of the med students goes into the primate room; he enters, sees a bunch of opened-up cages, blood splattered all over the walls, then turns to find SHAKMA! in mid-monkey-chew. SHAKMA! looks back at the med student, still chewing, all like "'Sup, man? I didn't even know you were coming" and then upon realizing that the med student is not happy with what he's witnessing, SHAKMA! (who hates being judged) jumps onto the counter, knocks over a monkey cage -- with a monkey still inside! -- and gives the dude a look like "Yeah, that's right, I did that shit!" before finally jumping onto the guy to tear him various new profusely bleeding orifices. Orifici?
No joke, man, the actor who plays SHAKMA! needs a fuckin' retroactive Oscar for his performance here. I mean, if that fuckin' overrated shit-stinking Bart the Bear managed to convince the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to let him amble his Harold Perrineau-eating ass onto the fuckin' Kodak Theater stage, then why not Typhoon the baboon? This baboon is awesome; he's either locomotion-ing down the hallways at furious speed, bouncing off the walls like some amped-up basehead who's just tried Crystal Meth for the first time (and took way too much), or he's nonchalantly munching on the flesh of one of his previous victims during downtime. When he's not doing that cool shit, he's doing even cooler shit, like going the fuck off on doors. Man, this baboon hates him some fuckin' doors -- I suspect that when SHAKMA! was young, some asshole old man paid homeless doors to beat the shit out of him, therefore instilling within Lil' SHAKMA! a violent abhorrence for all things Doorknob'd and Deadbolted.
At one point, Atkins tries to defend himself against the almighty SHAKMA! by using a flashbulb to distract him, thinking he's Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window in this bitch, and SHAKMA! gets a full bright flash in his face. But my boy reacts by quickly closing his eyes and reflexively shaking his head, then bounces back with this "No, you did NOT just flash that shit in my face" look/screech before getting back into Killing-mode. It's beauty, eh, the way he kills -- even after it's obvious that you're a goner, it's not gonna keep him from giving you a quick Haggar-style jump kick with both feet, because he's the kind of baboon who likes to break it off after sticking it in, the little screechy bastard.
Let me talk about that screech/growl shit he does -- it is Good Times, people. Right now, it just hit me that the producers of this film really missed out on making some serious merchandise/licensing money with a SHAKMA! car alarm. That shit would've made some serious bank, on account of being so fucking effective; a thief tries to break into your cherry Geo Metro and suddenly triggers a barrage of loud-ass SHAKMA!-screams going at 150 decibels -- putting the Fear Of God into that poverty-driven piece-of-shit and causing him to run the fuck away. Plus, any passerby or neighbors will have extra incentive in notifying the authorities because Jesus Christ Someone Please Turn Off That Godforsaken Alarm. The SHAKMA! alarm also makes a great deterrent, because any thief worth his worthless salt would not try to fuck with any automobile displaying the "Protected by SHAKMA!" label, he ain't taking that chance, because like the slogan for the SHAKMA! Auto Alarm says: "You Mess With The Baboon, You Get The Horns".
I don't think I've made it clear how splendid a job I think this Typhoon fellow did in his role as SHAKMA! The Killer Baboon. He doesn't just Bring It with the killing scenes, he's also got a bit of a Pacino-esque hamminess to him; half the time, ol' Shakee Boy is making these crazy open-mouthed faces and at first I thought he was being kind of an over-actor, but now I'm thinking something else. Like, maybe he's making fun of his co-star Christopher Atkins, who occasionally displays similar wide-eyed/wide-mouthed theatrics in this film (particularly during the scene when he discovers the acid-melted face of one of his buddies -- no joke, SHAKMA! will absolutely fuck you up).
Typhoon probably noticed that shit and when it came time to shoot his coverage during that OMG My Friend's Face Has Been Melted Off scene, he looked over to the crew members (Typhoon's been chummy with them, sometimes even playing cards with them in his trailer between setups, like Tom Hanks has been known to do) and said "Hey guys, check me out -- I'm Chris Atkins!" and then started doing the faces, cracking everyone up, because when you work long hours on low-budget shoots like this one, you need all the levity you can get. Well, the director -- ruthless Eli Cross wannabe that he is -- he had them roll camera during that shit, then later had that shit printed and told the editor to try and use some of that footage somewhere in the movie.
I bet you the director didn't even have the decency to tell Typhoon about this, preferring to let him know when he watches the film for the first time. Boy, did Typhoon feel betrayed upon seeing what was meant to be a private moment between talent and crew, now blown up and presented to everyone on a 40-foot screen. But he knew someone who felt even more betrayed at the moment, and he was sitting only a few seats away: Christopher Atkins. Typhoon knew that he did wrong -- no matter how lighthearted his intentions were -- and he had to make up for it as soon as possible, especially knowing how sensitive Atkins could get. Typhoon couldn't judge Chris on his fragile nature, for he too was once like Mr. Atkins, having had to deal with all kinds of jokes and barbs from producers about how he'd fit in this business since Hollywood is all "monkey business" anyway. Or those lame smart-ass questions from agents asking him if he and a bunch of his fellow simians ever got together with a typewriter and tried writing Shakespeare. Oh, how those "jokes" stung him!
And yet, here he was, dishing out the same kind of hurt to his polite co-star. No, this had to be made right -- and soon! Typhoon decided he would make his move during the after-party, only he wouldn't be too sudden about it, he'd have to drink up at least one flute of courage before working up the nerve to make amends. But he would, and it did -- and thankfully, Chris being the sensitive, positive and trusting soul that he was, forgave Typhoon, and all was well again.
I spoil shit all the time here, but I'm going to spoil something particularly big here so SPOILER BITCHES, but yeah, I want to talk about how surprised I was by the fact that the love interest gets dusted in this flick. I thought I had it pegged: Amanda Wyss will live and so will Nemesis' Little Sister, because there's no reason to kill them off because why be different from every other movie ever made? I figured Atkins wouldn't survive because three's a crowd in the survivor game, plus, he needs to atone because it's kinda his fault that this shit happened. I mean, yeah, it's McDowall's fault for Tampering In God's Domain with whatever the fuck he was doing to SHAKMA!'s brain, but it's also Blue Lagoon's fault for not paying attention to what drug he was injecting SHAKMA! with. Seriously, Atkins -- that's a dangerous killing machine that you were told to put down and you decided that it wasn't Top Priority for your eyes to pay attention to the fuckin' label? What an asshole!
But no, they don't kill off Atkins, so in his place they kill off love interest Amanda Wyss! Wow! It's a pretty fucked-up sequence, and the way it plays at first, you think she'll get away from SHAKMA!, but no. She manages to hide out in a bathroom stall, standing on the toilet while trying to pull off an air vent cover. The end of this scene is shot from the outside of the stall, so we only see the top half of Wyss as she tries to make a jump for the air vent -- but then you hear my homebaboon doing his screech thing and down goes Amanda, out of frame and into a world of shit (literally, if the last occupant of that stall forgot to flush). The sound of screams and bloody murder follow...until...out pops Amanda into frame again, barely hanging on (both figuratively and literally). Everything's quiet now as she slowly tries to make an attempt at crawling up onto the air vent. A few beats pass, and then -- SKKKRRRREEEEEEEE!!!! SHAKMA! pulls her back down and finishes what he started.
Now, I was wondering what happened in that brief period of non-violence; was SHAKMA! being a sadistic fuck and fooling Miss Wyss into thinking that she might escape this ordeal? I only wish it were that simple. I'll tell you what fuckin' happened, but first I have to fill in some details for ya: throughout the movie, upon closer inspection, you'll notice that SHAKMA!'s dong is rather primed during all of his murderous shenanigans. It's disturbing, but maybe it's supposed to be, because watching this hairy, angry creature running rampant with his penis hanging out, killing everything that he doesn't agree with, well it's like SHAKMA! is the male id personified.
So when you consider that, along with where SHAKMA! is located during his attacking of Miss Wyss -- on the floor, looking up at the girl standing on the toilet, leaving her ass in full prime view -- well, it doesn't take the proverbial rocket scientist to figure out that when you're as Horny As Fuck as this pent-up creep is, you take advantage of the time a quick break gives you and you beat that meat, son, you beat that fuckin' meat. Unfortunately for poor Amanda Wyss, my boy SHAKMA! is like The Flash when it comes to Turning Japanese, so she didn't have time to escape before he finished and now he's back to giving the lady a hands-on lesson in How To Die Slowly.
By the way, it's thoughts like these that keep me from ever wondering why I'm doomed to die alone.
At first, I thought the filmmakers justified her death for committing the crime of being a smart, assertive woman who could get along just fine without a man's help -- whereas Nemesis' Little Sister is allowed to live because she's dumb and needy and therefore Not A Threat To Man's Dominance. But no, they kill the little sister off too because this movie is like Judd Nelson in that it's just so goddamn relentless and way harsh. Each woman's death is mourned in similar ways by Atkins; he picks up each woman's SHAKMA'd-up body and does that slow, traumatized Riggs-in-Lethal Weapon 2 shuffle-walk as he carries it down the hall, only with Wyss he does this extra bit where he leans in and gives her one final kiss on the lips -- which is still OK by the rules, because as my late beloved grandmother was fond of saying, "It's not necrophilia, if no fluid is involved".
One by one, the team of potential Marcus Welbys and Meredith Greys are taken out, even McDowall (who is last seen dressed like he should be running on top of Mt. Rushmore with Eva Marie Saint in tow) gets it in the end, leaving only one man to fight the deadly terror, with only cunning, booby-traps, and an overall sense of I Don't Give A Damn Anymore at his disposal. So basically, this is Predator for the Scrubs crowd. But ultimately, what this film really is, is a scorching indictment on the severe damages to society caused by Man's stupidity -- particularly one man's stupidity, Christopher Atkins' stupidity. I think it's a harsh way for one man to learn his lesson, but short of having the dead bodies magically awaken and having SHAKMA! reveal himself to be a dwarf stuntman, then having George Bluth Sr. and his one-armed friend come out and say "And that's why you always read the label!" -- short of doing that, I think this was the only way for homeboy to learn.
After what I'm about to write, you might think that I got a free trip to New York and was invited to the premiere screening of SHAKMA! at the Radio City Music Hall, where everyone in the audience was hooting, hollering and bouncing beach balls around, but I honestly thought SHAKMA! was a good flick. First off, I like everything, so there's that -- and second, I thought it was a pretty well put-together low-budget scare joint. The idea of a crazed baboon skulking around dark corners of a practically abandoned building that you are trapped inside of, well shit, that's pretty scary to me. Hell, being in a well-lit, wide-open space with an even-tempered baboon would scare the shit out of me. It's an effective B-movie thriller, is what I'm saying. But I'm also saying that I was as high as Harrison Ford giving a rare friendly interview when I watched it, so there's that too.
I'm disappointed that they didn't make more SHAKMA! flicks because that baboon was awesome and I would've seen ten more sequels devoted to his flank-steak ass running around, killing doors and people. Don't give me that "But SHAKMA! got burned to death at the end" bullshit, because as the late Moustapha Akkad taught us, Evil Never Dies (as long as there is money to be made off of it). Seriously, this guy could've been the next Freddy Krueger and it's too bad they never got around to making SHAKMA! 2: SHAKMA!'s Revenge, where the ghost of SHAKMA! can torture some young innocent baboon and possess him, and it's all ladled with thick servings of homoerotic subtext.
It's not too late though; everyone's remake/reboot/sequel/prequel crazy nowadays, so why not call that crazy fuckin' kraut Werner Herzog to direct and since Typhoon's probably dead now, get Nicolas Cage to play the fuck out of SHAKMA! and together they can call it The SHAKMA!: Port of Call Orlando if they want. Then the press can call up Abel Ferrara for his opinion and he'll be like "Whaddya fuckin' talkin' about? I didn't direct no fuckin' movie called SHAKMA!, I was too busy hustlin' and lookin' like a filthy deranged drug addict to be fuckin' with some fuckin' monkey, Jesus fuckin' Christ, ya fuckin' killin' me with these fuckin' questions! Lend me five dollars."
In conclusion, there's a black guy in this movie and while he isn't the first guy to die, in retrospect, he probably wishes he was the first to go because homeboy is rockin' some hair and clothes that make this New Jack look like he just came back from doing background work in House Party 2: The Pajama Jam! because that was the style back when this movie was made, the early 90's -- which I miss dearly, actually, because the present day sucks a dick, until it becomes the past and then suddenly you're missing that shit with all of your heart while at the same time going What The Fuck.
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