Director – Frank Marshall
Cast – Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Grant Heslov, Joe Don Baker, Lorene Noh, Mary Ellen Trainor, Bruce Campbell, Misty Rosas
Release Year – 1995
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I remember enjoying this film so much as a child given my love for movies involving killer animals. Based on the acclaimed novel “Congo” by author Michael Critchton, this flick gives us an interesting antagonist…an unknown breed of killer gorillas.
This film opens with an expedition into the heart of the African Congo in search of a rare diamond that will revolutionize the communications industry. When the expedition goes sour and the company loses communication with Charles Travis(Bruce Campbell), the company sends his former fiancé and current scientist Dr. Karen Ross(Laura Linney, who also appeared in “The Mothman Prophesies” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose“) to find out what went on and get the diamond her megalomaniac CEO craves so much. She joins up with a gorilla researcher named Dr. Peter Elliot who is on his way to the congo himself to release his sign-language talking gorilla, Amy, into the wild. Joined by the eccentric explorer Herkermer Homolka and a few mercenaries they embark on their mission but soon encounter a furry foe that prefers humans over bananas. HAHA!
I really like the idea for this film and personally find horror/thriller films taking place in the jungle to be quite creepy. There are many places for the antagonist to hide itself and this film only gets better once the discover the diamond city of Zing, which just pretty much whispers the word “creepy” in your ear the second you see it. Director Frank Marshall(who also directed Arachnophobia) did an excellent job with this film’s atmosphere, sets, and the awesome look of the killer gorillas.
The use of characters in this film was enjoyable as a few of them add the usual comic relief while others gain your attention and respect right away such as the character of lead mercenary Captain Munro Kelly(Ernie Hudson, otherwise known as “Winston Zeddmore” of Ghostbusters fame). I especially enjoyed the use of Tim Curry as the eccentric explorer in the film. He seems to personify all of his roles pretty well, especially as “Pennywise” the clown in “It”. Hehe. Aside from looking so much like John Mayer, actor Dylan Walsh did a find job as Dr. Peter Elliot and Laura Linney surprisingly had the most one-liners in the film.
The use of the killer monkeys has to be my favorite aspect of the film, and unfortunately we don’t get much of that action until the last 30 minutes of the film. I really respect director Frank Marshall for opting to use live-action effects for the monkeys instead of the computer effects he was originally going to use given how great they looked in Jurassic Park(which came out two years earlier). The look of the gorillas was awesome as they had some weird looking stuff on and around their faces and they were completely grey. Not like “silverback” gorillas, but GREY gorillas. Pretty creepy looking to say the least.
My only knacks for this film are the usual of films at this time. The editing was a bit choppy and the dialogue could have used some improvement. It gets cheesy in a “Hollywood” way at times(the last 10 minutes of the film) but I can look past that.
Overall, this is a positive film that is sure to please those showing an interest in this sub-genre of killer animals. Those not interested in that sub-genre will probably not find this film as enjoyable.