Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Primal Rage: Shakma (1990)

Shakma (AKA "Nemesis" )(1990)
rating: ***
starring: Christopher Atkins, Amanda Wyss and Ari Meyers

Some killer animal flicks tend to blur into slasher territory as a few titles borrowed elements such as POV shots of the villain stalking its victim (or prey) and the methodic demise of victims, which more than usual are teenagers.

Jaws can be considered as a forerunner to this with its first half being similar to a slasher film while the last half  was more of an ocean-adventure. Later entries such as Grizzly (1976) and Wolfen (1981) further blurred the line as their structure and the beasts' motives were more personal, not unlike that of a human killer.

Here in Shakma, a murderous baboon escapes and starts running amok inside a small research facility where a group of teenagers just happened to be staying as well, playing a fantasy scavenger hunt where the prize money will be forwarded to their college fund.

In typical bodycounter fashion, the monkey maul its victims one by one as they try to find a way to survive the night, though these doomed guys and gals are far from your classic partying teenagers and the reason for them being gathered was a sound if not overly cheesy one. Still, they are guilty of committing the slasher trope of being dumb when the occasion gets the better of them, most precisely when they were trying to avoid getting killed which ranges from the the risky to the overly stupid.

The stalk scenes were also pretty intense thanks to the wild nature of the animal hunting these teens, although some of these scenes tend to go on nearly forever and, seeing this is a killer animal movie, multitude of the actual killings were done offscreen, lacking that much variety apart from the usual mauling.

There's also some pacing problems and unnecessary dialogues here and there, which meant we got a couple of slow runs somewhere in the middle of the film where our casts panic like blind mice cornered by a hungry cat. (An allegory not far from the truth), still, the story's not that hard to follow and there's fun in its simplicity.

Though I can tell the film would have been better if it had a slightly higher budget and if the producers made a stronger script and workable direction, Shakma's still a campy good time with low-logic cheese that faithfully follows the slasher body with an added bonus of animal attack!

A room full of animals ravaged
1 male had his throat mauled open offscreen
1 male gets a bottle of acid thrown to his face
1 male mauled offscreen
1 male had his face mauled, killed
1 female mauled to death
1 female mauled offscreen
1 monkey locked inside an incinerator, burned alive
1 male neck bitten open and bled to death
total: 8+

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