LINK (1986) Reviews and overview

 

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‘An experiment in terror’

Link is a 1986 British horror thriller film directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho IIRoadgames; Patrick) from a screenplay written by Everett De Roche (Patrick; Long Weekend) from a story by Lee David Zlotoff and Tom Ackermann. The movie stars Terence Stamp and Elisabeth Shue.

In 1979, director Richard Franklin optioned a short outline which he described as “a sort of Jaws with chimps.” He did not do anything with it until Everett de Roche showed him a National Geographic article by Jane Goodall about violence among chimpanzees.

“The English setting to me was essential. I wanted to contrast the primitivism of jungle animals with Old World values, high culture, and “civilisation” – which is one of the subjects of the picture.” Richard Franklin

The soundtrack score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith (The Mummy; AlienThe Omen; et al).

Plot:

Jane, an American zoology student, takes a summer job at the lonely cliff-top home of a professor who is exploring the link between man and ape. Soon after her arrival he vanishes, leaving her to care for his three chimps: Voodoo, a savage female; the affectionate, child-like Imp; and Link – a circus ape trained as the perfect servant and companion.

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A disturbing role reversal takes place in the relationship between master and servant and Jane becomes a prisoner in a simian house of horror. In her attempts to escape she’s up against an adversary with several times her physical strength – and the instincts of a bloodthirsty killer…

Although the title primate is clearly an orangutan, he is referred to as a chimpanzee throughout the entire film, and his fur appears to have been dyed black (orangutans have reddish-brown fur).

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The film was bought for American release by Universal, who cut eight minutes out, despite Franklin’s objections. When EMI was taken over by the Cannon group, five more minutes were removed.

Reviews: 

” 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…” British Horror Films

“Richard Franklin did a typically splendid job of creating a really fun, strange little “animal attack” movie that definitely went for a unique and original twist on the genre and killed it. His combination of suspense, action and humor is a perfect balance. Oh, and you also have another fantastic musical score from the legendary Jerry Goldsmith…” CHUD.com

“A flabby thriller that generates few surprises and no suspense.” John Elliot, Elliot’s Guide to Films on Video

“Whilst Link is not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination it is an enjoyable watch. We wouldn’t necessarily call the film a horror but it’s certainly horrific as the events escalate. With a tighter story and a better score it could have been very different. As it is Link is a fairly effective film that could have been so much more.” Entertainment Focus

“The small cast really gets into their roles as well actually sucking the viewer into Jane’s plot even further. Top off it all off with some quality jump scenes (Link rips a persons arm through a mail slot!) and a pretty nifty score and you have a decent animal attack subgenre 80’s piece.” Horror News

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“Richard Franklin certainly gains his feet in the last quarter of the film and offers a suitably tense series of shock effects […] The scenes with Link pursuing Elisabeth Shue through the house, spying on her as she bathes and trying to push her over the cliff in a freewheeling van, are well sustained. The chimp Link has an incredibly sinister expressiveness in its sleekly beautiful face and blankly luxuriant eyes.” Moria

“A great climax and priceless final shot bring the film to a sublime close and I was left sitting in the dark, wondering just how the hell the movie had worked at all. It’s a thought I find myself having during many Cannon productions. All production technicalities aside, Link stands with the best the company has to offer.” The Parallax Review

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“Director Richard Franklin studied with Alfred Hitchcock, and obviously learned a thing or two at the feet of his master, as while this doesn’t have the same reputation as some of his other thrillers, it’s actually not half bad. The plot may be fairly basic, but he made that contribute to a straightforward suspense piece laced with themes around Link’s possible sexual attraction to Jane and his belief (as far as we can tell) that his kind are the superior species.” The Spinning Image

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“Although Franklin delivers a decent scene every once in a while (like when Link kills a guard dog), it’s more of the exception than the rule. Franklin’s overuse of slow motion during the chimp POV shots is also pretty annoying and further dilutes any potential suspense from the film. I’m usually a fan of Terence Stamp, but his performance is just too aloof and droll…” The Video Vacuum

Link was released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber Studio Classics on May 14, 2019, with the following special features:

Audio commentary by film historian Lee Gambin and film critic Jarret Gaha
Deleted workprint scenes (standard definition)
Audio interview with director Richard Franklin
Link theme demo by Jerry Goldsmith
US Theatrical Trailer
US Theatrical Teaser
French Theatrical Trailer

Cast and characters:

Elisabeth Shue … Jane Chase
Terence Stamp … Dr Steven Phillip – Crow; The Haunted Mansion; The Company of Wolves
David O’Hara … Tom
Steven Pinner … David
Kevin Lloyd … Bailey
Richard Garnett … Dennis
Linus Roache [uncredited]
Locke … Link [uncredited]
Carrie … Voodoo [uncredited]
Jed … Imp [uncredited]

Filming locations:

St. Abbs, Scotland

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