Link – Blu-Ray Review

Link was Richard Franklin’s follow-up to his remake of The Window, which was retitled Cloak & Dagger, I haven’t seen his remake, but The Window is one of the most unique film noirs. Franklin was a Aussie director who got his start in softcore porn and then graduated to Hitchcock-influenced thrillers such as Road Games, which was such a great calling card that it got him the Psycho II gig. Over the years, his cult has blossomed, no doubt due to Quentin Tarantino’s constant praising of his work. Tarantino is on record as saying he prefers Psycho II to Hitchcock’s original film… which is of course a ridiculous statement, but he also said he preferred Gus Van Sant’s remake, so I have to respect his contrarianism—even if he’s just plain wrong.

In Link, Terence Stamp plays Dr. Steven Phillip, an anthropologist who studies the mental capacities of chimps and lives in this fancy Victorian mansion. Anthony Perkins actually turned the role down, which says something, as Perkins would do any old shit—but maybe it clashed with Psycho III, which Perkins directed himself (both films came out in 1986.) Elisabeth Shue, who was hot after starring in The Karate Kid, plays an American student who agrees to be an assistant at Dr Philip’s mansion and help with the apes. When she arrives, she is met by an ape named Link who is dressed as a butler and shows her to room… but the doctor isn’t anywhere to be seen.

It’s a very silly movie that eventually becomes the woman vs. beast tale that you expect. Stamp simply disappears at a certain point, but in his screen time he projects sleazy professor vibes. It makes you wonder whether Stamp at some point just walked off the film. Shue is perfectly fine in her role, but the apes—and specifically an ape named Locke who plays Link—are the real stars of the movie. Impressively, Franklin used real apes instead of humans in suits or animatronics, which gives this goofy film a sense of believability that it would’ve lacked otherwise.

The film’s other notable factor is the score by Jerry Goldsmith. which is like an organ-grinder riff on his ironic score for Gremlins. Overall it’s an amusing little movie that Franklin certainly took far too seriously foe its own good, but you could do worse than spending 100 or so minutes in its company. The film has been cut various times over the years,and I don’t Franklin wasn’t happy with any version. This is more or less the US cut. The European cut was 13 minutes longer, but besides one French DVD release that is only 106 minutes long, this seems to be lost. However, the disc does includes some of the deleted scenes from the work print. The extras are a new commentary from critics Lee Gamblin and Jarret Gahan, an archival audio interview with Franklin, a demo of Goldsmith’s theme, and the original UK theatrical teaser trailer.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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