Typhoon the Baboon has quickly risen to the top of my list as one of my favorite animal actors/cult characters of the 1980s! I was lucky enough put together a VHS swap last weekend at the iconic Cinemagic Theater right here in Portland, Oregon for their monthly VHS movie nite. The first Friday of every month they show a movie straight from VHS and project it on to the big screen. This week they were showing something I’ve never seen before from 1986 called ‘Unmasking The Idol’. I really wasn’t sure what to expect but what I ended up with was a glorious cult cinematic treasure to behold for the very first time from director Worth Keeter. I heard there was a baboon in this James Bond/Indiana Jones-ish action mash up, but nothing could prepare me for the ultimate primate-Typhoon!
Now come to find out Typhoon had also landed the lead role in the 1990 cult classic primate slasher flick: ‘Shakma’! I actually really dig that movie, it’s a pretty well done but ridiculous, fantasy game/LARPING in an office building with a batshit crazy baboon taking out nerds left and right piece of cinematic trash. Little did I know Shakma (Typhoon) was an action star before becoming a low brow horror icon!
His role in “Unmasking” is pretty hilarious, Typhoon or “Boon” in the movie excels in hand to hand combat, throws bombs, shoots guns, wears suits and compulsively flicks people off like a true champ! The movie without Boon, would still be a riot, but with him as part of an elite team of ninja mercenaries really makes this movie one for the books. A wild ride of 80s action insanity, full of idioticly charming pulpy plot lines, babes and most importantly BOON!
So after viewing Unmasking the Idol I felt a little sad that I’d most likely witnessed my last experience with Boon. However I was quickly alerted to the fact that this movie had a sequel from 1987 called ‘Order of the Black Eagle’ and indeed featured the star primate in the role once again! Apparently this time around though his role is a bit limited but I did hear that it features him driving around a miniature tank & blowing the shit out of Nazis! So yeah that’s next on my list for SURE.
Doing a little more investigating on Letterboxd I also found out that he makes an appearance in ‘The Fly’ with Jeff Goldblum?! Damn this guy’s got a pretty good filmography under his belt! I guess that one’s just gotta get a rewatch soon, especially due to it being the Halloween season AND to see Typhoon’s performance through a new lense.
Apparently Typhoon was able to follow simple commands quite well and even his role in Shakma where he portrayed a violent memesis he was merely shown food from an open door and then let loose when the door was closed. Naturally Typhoon being excited about the food would pound and smash on the door like a berserk maniac creating quite a stir on camera.
There’s actually a pretty cool & extensive article about his performance in ‘Shakma’ that’s worth a read if you’re interested in his acting career. Now I don’t want to make it all sound like working with Typhoon was always a pleasant experience, though it’s reported that he had quite a loving connection with his trainer here’s what David Cronenberg had to say about his experience directing him: “They’re very volatile, and there’s no such thing as a tame baboon, Jeff, because he was much bigger and stronger than the baboon, was able to dominate him, and the baboon’s wrangler said it was a good thing that the baboon formed that relationship….Otherwise there could have been big trouble on the set with some of the female members of the crew.” Umm…no Jeff Goldblum is NOT stronger than a baboon, if they get pissed they will fuck you up! They are indeed many times stronger than a human….
I also don’t want to give Typhoon a bad rap because lots of actors can be sort of grumpy on set. Everyone has flaws, even Typhoon. I did a little poking around and couldn’t find any more information about him being curious about how long he lived, with no results. So at this point I’m going to just believe that he’s out there, still alive planning his next big movie come back! ‘Unmasking The Idol’ has just been released on blu ray via Vinegar Syndrome too!!
So I recently found a copy of an 80’s monster movie I’d been trying to track down for years- Blue Monkey from 1987. One thing I totally dig is an awesome or even badly entertaining 80’s horror flick and with this one I was certain I’d found either a lost gem or at the very least a full on golden turd!! Well it turns out I was quite wrong on both guesses, after years of waiting I was quite disappointed to find out Blue Monkey is neither, but rather a total snooze fest that’s bound to put the kibosh on any movie nite party!!
The funny thing is for the first half hour this one delivers some serious promise, that’s the sad thing because after a strong opening you’re so damn sure this movie is going to deliver the goods and then some that it’s tough to give up on it! The basic premise is someone gets bit by a weird bug in an exotic greenhouse that causes big slug like parasites to emerge from the hosts mouth. When the person is taken to the hospital that’s when the “mayhem” begins and then quickly peters out into a movie that feels far, FAR longer than it’s 97 minute run time!! Yeah the first half hour has some cool gross out fx and even introduces us to a young Sarah Polley!
Aside from that there’s not much else to report, the rest of the movie features a shit ton of boring ass scenes of people walking around dark hallways and talking about a ton of shit my brain wasn’t willing to absorb. I watched this at a movie nite on a projector and as I looked around the room it was clear this movie was the fucking cure to the most intense case of insomnia!! I’d also like to add that there’s no blue monkey or anything related to a damn blue monkey in the whole damn film!!
Yeah people were nodding off and some I think got some nice zzzzz’s during most of the movies tiresome duration. When we finally get to see the monster mutant bug it’s just too little too late to give a damn. The only thing that kept this movie the least bit interesting were the two boozed up senior citizen patients at the hospital, and even the promise they showed waned pretty damn quick. The actual monster itself was actually pretty well done. If they’d have had the creature stalk people on and off during the loooong ass middle section of this movie it’d have been a helluva lot easier to sit through. Even adding a few of those “shadowy creature arm attacks and you throw some fake blood on a wall” type of scenes could have saved this one from being a full blown fucking sleep-aid!
I get really bummed out by movies like this, that with some clever editing, could have actually been a pretty fun little romp. It seems though the only thing this one succeeds at is being spectacularly boring, proving again the search for that lost 80’s horror gem is a tuff one. Every so often I’m proven wrong but usually if I haven’t heard of a movie being awesome from the 70’s or 80’s by the year 2017 there’s usually good reason! I’m glad the wait is over though with Blue Monkey, even though it was a total turd, it’s one I can happily cross off the list. This one never got a proper DVD release and now it’s finally clear why…you’ve been warned!!