"When man was given mastery over the beasts, someone forgot to tell … Link!"
In the 1970s, a run of they-wouldn’t-be-allowed-these-days tea bag adverts featured chimpanzees dressed up as British people desperate for a cuppa. The lingering memory of these efforts, which made great play of the way we misread a chimp’s bared-teeth expression of fear or aggression as a cheeky smile, was perhaps not helpful to the chimpsploitation horror movie Link on its release in 1985, but it’s a film whose off-kilter charms – embodied in a memorably shivery-shuddery Jerry Goldsmith score – have grown over the years.
Produced in the UK by the Golan-Globus team at Cannon and written and directed by Australians Everett DeRoche and Richard Franklin (who had made Road Games together and Razorback and Psycho 2 apart), it’s one of those daffy, all-over-the-show films which nevertheless has several remarkable things going for it. The first half-hour showcases a terrifically eccentric performance by Terence Stamp as a chimp-studying boffin with a line in dry, rude, startling speeches that suggest Stamp was auditioning for Doctor Who. Then, fluffy-haired Elisabeth Shue is left alone in a splendid old clifftop mansion in a remote estate (gorgeous Scots locations) with Link, a pyromaniac chimp dressed as an English butler. Getting wind of the fact his master wants him put down, the monkey goes on a rampage that involves killing off a bunch of stooge characters who show up to be of no help at all while indulging in a battle of wits with the put-upon student heroine.
Thanks to animal trainer Ray Berwick (who worked on The Birds), Link himself gives an astonishing performance – these days, you could hire Andy Serkis and all the CGI techs in California and not get anything better than some of Link’s reaction shots (his lecherous gaze at surprising Shue in the shower is a stunner) or more shocking than what is implied happens to the clot who reaches through the letter-slot to hold his hand. Latterday terror-by-animal movies, like Snakes on a Plane, don’t work because they rely on computer trickery – whereas Link is in the old school as your subliminal awareness that Shue and Stamp really are in the same room as dangerous primates and interacting with them as fellow performers makes for a real frisson and inclines you to admire the actors for their sheer nerve. In the spirit of the wolf references that litter The Howling, Franklin wittily fills the movie with monkey business – from Marlene Dietrich stripping out of a gorilla suit in Blonde Venus to the Kinks’ rockin’ classic Ape Man in its full-strength album version.
Inspired by research on violence amongst chimpanzees, this chilling fantasy-horror from cult director Richard Franklin stars Elisabeth Shue in an early film role, alongside fellow Oscar nominee and sixties screen icon Terence Stamp as a single-minded professor who sets in motion a terrifying chain of events. Link is presented here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements, in its original aspect ratio.
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. Soon 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…
 Original theatrical trailers
 Image gallery
 Promotional material PDFs
- Number of Discs
- 1.66:1 / Colour
- Stereo / English
- 2 / PAL
- 99 mins approx