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Film / Shakma

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"...and Shakma! Shocking audiences everywhere! SHAKMAAAAAAARGHH!"

A 1990 Direct to Video horror film directed by Hugh Parks and Tom Logan.

Sam (Christopher Atkins) and his girlfriend Tracy (Amanda Wyss) both work as lab technicians for Professor Sorenson (Roddy McDowall) at a medical research facility housed in a high-rise office building. In particular, it's Sam's job to look after the animals used in Sorenson's work, and he has a particular fondness for a baboon named Shakma.

Along with Sorenson and their co-workers Gary (Rob Morris) and Bradley (Tre Laughlin), they enjoy playing a LARP called Nemesis in the building after hours, and one night they schedule a game after all the other employees have knocked off for the night, inviting their friend Kim (Ari Meyers) to play with them. Unfortunately for them, Sorenson had earlier performed some questionable brain surgery on Shakma, in an apparent attempt to reduce his aggression. It didn't go well, and the experiment apparently got reversed - Shakma instead became dangerously aggressive and started attacking people.

Sorenson orders the baboon destroyed, but Sam injects him with the wrong chemical and simply sedates him. Then thanks to further bad luck, Sorenson's assistant Richard forgets to process the "dead" animal in the facility's incinerator, instead leaving him lying unrestrained on a table. As the five friends and their surprisingly cool boss begin their LARPing adventure, none of them are aware that the sedative is beginning to wear off, and Shakma is starting to awaken...


  • Air Vent Escape: Subverted. Tracy attempts this but Shakma attacks before she can climb up.
  • And Starring: Roddy McDowall is billed this way in both the trailer and the opening credits.
  • Animal Testing: Probably not the best idea to take an already aggressive animal like a baboon and screw around with its brain.
  • Ax-Crazy: Shakma the baboon
  • Beeping Computers: Used to keep track of the players in Nemesis.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Not only does Tracy meet a nasty and untimely end at Shakma's paws, but apparently, whatever he does to Kim shortly afterward is so horrible that her face can't be shown for the rest of the movie. Mind you, the movie has no problem repeatedly showing us close-ups of a guy who gets half his face burned/eaten away by acid.
  • Bland-Name Product: The game, which is called Nemesis.
  • Closed Circle:
    • The gamers are trapped inside the medical building.
    • Note that this is by design - Sorenson locked certain rooms to limit where the players of the LARP can go.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Sam crosses it when Tracy dies. Then he crosses it again after the death of Kim.
  • For Science!: No explanation is ever given for why Sorenson's was monkeying around with baboon brains. The creepy narrator in the trailer suggests, "It started as an experiment in human aggression," but the movie itself never gets around to an explanation.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: A variant of this with Laura in her car with the window rolled up and the music turned on really loud.
  • Heroic BSoD: Sam while he's laying out the bodies of all his dead friends and co-workers.
  • Hollywood Acid: Richard tries to kill Shakma by throwing a beaker of acid at him. Unfortunately, the baboon jumps him and he spills the stuff on himself. We don't see the effects immediately, but half his face is dissolved when Sorenson finds him later.
  • Hope Spot: When Kim and Sam notice Laura is sitting in her car outside. Unfortunately, she first ignores them and then misinterprets their efforts to signal her as Richard screwing around, and drives off in a huff.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Gee Tracy, don't you think you could have just articulated to Gary that there was a dangerous lab animal on the loose and people are dead instead of just vaguely sputtering to him in sentence fragments and dramatic pauses not to go to the fifth floor?
    • Sam, as well. He avoids telling Kim about Richard's death, despite the fact she is very visibly distressed and worried about him. Needless to say, the second she's left alone, she goes looking for Richard and gets killed by Shakma.
      • Let's not even get started on how it was his responsibility to euthanize Shakma in the first place.
  • LARP: A rare pre-internet era example. The main characters are each assigned a character and the research building is their gaming area.
  • Leave the Camera Running: If you like extended shots of people slowly wandering around office hallways, then this movie is for you.
  • Madness Mantra: "It's all my fault" for Sam. And later, "I win."
  • Maniac Monkeys: The titular primate is a genetically altered baboon with a murderous attitude.
  • Monster Threat Expiration: Shakma is all about ripping his prey to shreds for most of the movie, but during the final confrontation he briefly attacks Sam and then runs away. This may be due to the fact he was quite affectionate with Sam before the experiment.
  • Murder by Cremation: Sam tricks Shakma into leaping into the specimen disposal crematory and torches the baboon.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sam, Sam, Sam... First, he injects Shakma with the wrong chemical, sedating him instead of killing him like Sorenson ordered him too. The movie is ambiguous on whether or not Sam did this intentionally. Then, later, he doesn't tell Kim about the death of Richard, which results in her wandering off to find him and getting killed herself.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: While Shakma is a murderous baboon who kills everyone he sees, he is just an animal who doesn't understand right from wrong. And the fact that he became insane from having his brain experimented on makes his behavior quite understandable.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Invoked. In the end, Sam, exhausted by his wounds, lays on the ground and finds it darkly humorous that he "won" the game.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kim, who already isn't the brightest tool in this shed, for going off on her own to find Richard. While Sam didn't explain the exact nature of the situation, his highly panicked state, the bloody footprints/spatters in the hall, and other signs of disarray should have warned her that something wasn't right and that wandering around alone might be a bad idea.