Ever had the urge to cast your eyes over a flick that features an orang-utan perving over a naked Elisabeth Shue?

You have? Well in that case make a beeline for this new StudioCanal Blu-ray release of 1986’s Link, Richard Franklin’s bizarre tale of simian madness.

I watched this film for the first time a few years back – and then again for this review, and to be totally honest I still don’t really know what to make of it.

Part comedy (both intentional and unintentional), part slasher movie and part interesting theorising on man’s link with the apes, this fits into that narrow horror genre that features the likes of Romero’s Monkey Shines.

It all starts off quite innocent enough as we are introduced to eager student Jane Chase (Shue), who is a big fan of the work of Dr Steven Philip (Terence Stamp).

Attending his classes at the ‘London School Of Sciences’, Chase is anxious to further her studies, and talks herself into spending the summer at Dr Philip’s coastal home as a sort of hired help.

From there she is able to get up close and personal to the doctor’s collection of specimens, namely chimps Imp and Voodoo, as well as orang-utan Link (who naturally serves as the home’s butler).

But after a rather innocuous opening to her stay, Jane quickly realises more is going on behind locked lab doors than she realises, and before long the corpses begin to pile up as Link goes on the rampage.

I am a big fan of some of Franklin’s other work, namely Road Games and the underrated Psycho II, but this effort lurches wildly in tone from one scene to the next, with borderline slapstick comedy making way for in-your-face violence in the blink of an eye.

More annoyingly, the lead characters also elect against the various opportunities that present themselves to off Link, which simply doesn’t ring true.

Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack – a play on Link’s former role as a circus talent that constantly disrupts the flow of the film – grated on first watch, but actually fits quite nicely on repeat viewing.

Stamp and Shue are fine enough, but a handful of other characters are then thrown in towards the climax of the film, seemingly for no other reason than to up the bodycount.

One has to admit though that the performances of the various animals in this are spectacular, with orang-utan Link in particular proving a delicious mix of innocence and menace.

When he gets going and the tension cranks up Link comes into its own – it just takes far too long getting there.

EXTRAS

StudioCanal have conjured up a packed disc for the release, offering up a myriad of extras that really up the value.

For starters we have an audio commentary courtesy of film historian Lee Gambin and critic Jarret Gahan.

Then there are a chunk of deleted scenes lifted from the workprint, ranging from lines of dialogue excised from the early college scenes through to full scenes which hit the cutting room floor – including one of Dr Philip encouraging the apes to study Jane’s form. Although video quality, it’s an interesting compilation.

Further delights include an archive audio interview with director Franklin, some demo music from Goldsmith, the original UK trailer (which features the memorable voiceover “We all have relatives we’d rather not talk about”) and a filmed interview with film programmer Anna Bogutskaya.

About The Author

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle