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Link (1986)

Remember that old adage about "never working with children or animals"? It was something Terence Stamp should possibly have borne in mind before agreeing to do Link, in which he gets out-acted by an enormous orang-utan (seriously - and it's not Ollie Reed, before you ask).

Link is a strange film - very 80s in lots of ways (Stamp's character loves his microwave oven), with an interesting premise (can you imagine what it would be like to be attacked by "a baby in a temper that's ten times as strong as you"?), and quite an old-fashioned ethos (old country mansion, girl in peril etc). Yet it's practically unknown. I certainly hadn't heard of it before it came into my possession, and I had to check its credentials as a British film (which is most definitely is).

Most satisfyingly, unlike films involving satanic babies (I Don't Want To Be Born) or killer cats (The Uncanny), the trio of monkeys in Link actually are frightening-looking and acting foes. There are points when you really do think Elizabeth Shue, and not her character, is in real peril.

Shue is an American student studying in Britain, who hears about a summer job at her lecturer's home on the coast. The lecturer (Stamp) has a thing about teaching monkeys to interact with humans, and despite not-very veiled threats about how dangerous it will be working there (the aforementioned mad baby quote and a tale about how another owner was "ripped to pieces" by his chimp because the animal was just pleased to see him) she takes the job.

Once she arrives she destroys all the hard work Emily Pankhurst and her bra burners achieved in one spectacular exchange...

Stamp: "Can you cook, clean - stuff like that?"

Shue: "Well, I'm female, I guess... that gives me a gnetic aptitude."

Well done, that girl. Now if you'll just strip off for a totally gratuitous bathroom scene, that would be perfect.

Shue is introduced to Stamp's household - Link, an orang-utan dressed as a butler who appears completely housetrained and enjoys smoking cigars; Voodoo, an almost uncontrollable wild chimpanzee; and Imp, a cute little baby chimp.

We discover that Stamp's character is planning on selling Link to a vivisectionist as he has outlived his usefulness - but Link has his own ideas on the subject and lets the insane Voodoo out of her cage. Shue is unaware of Stamp's apparent death, and assumes that he's buggered off back to London without so much as a by-your-leave. As she soaps herself up in the bath she is watched by a gurning Link (in a scene which manages to be saucy, brilliantly done and extremely uncomfortable all at the same time) and it becomes clear that the dirty old ape has designs on her pert young pups.

The film then quickly becomes a tense cat-and-mouse hunt around Stamp's decaying mansion, with Link going more and more (pardon me) ape-shit in the tradition of all good slasher movie baddies. He even manages to survive several shotgun blasts.

As people turn up at the house only to get brutally murdered and Shue fights to protect the innocent Imp (whilst still not really knowing what's going on), we're heading towards what can only be described as a frantic ending in the best Brit horror "burn the house down" style. There's even a twist at the end.

Link isn't a bad film - but the best thing about it has to be Link himself. At times the thing really looks evil, and at no point do you think "ah look, he's just playing" or "it's a bloke in a suit!". Unfortunately, it being a mid-80s film, it is saddled with some of the worst music ever committed to celluloid, which starts off just being intrusive and ends up totally inappropriate...

Last updated: February 24, 2010

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