“It was beauty killed the beast” was the epitaph of King Kong, but it was necessity which suggested to American zoology student Jane Chase that she spend the summer working for her lecturer, Doctor Steven J Philip, a respected if somewhat eccentric anthropologist specialising in the great apes who shares his home with three specimens, the youthful Imp, the wild Voodoo, and six year old Link, a former circus performer with a repertoire of tricks.
Dressed in shirt and trousers, it is Link who greets Jane when she arrives at remote Northfield Grange perched atop a rocky coastal promontory, taking her bags and guiding her to her room, Doctor Philip having lost track of the days; arriving to find her already arrived he cautions her that she must always maintain dominance but equally must be swift to forgive them, but the behavioural divide between human and chimpanzee is as closely aligned as their ancestry.
Directed by Richard Franklin from a script by Everett De Roche from a story by Lee David Zlotoff and Tom Ackermann, location filming for Link was conducted in St. Abbs in Berwickshire, now better known as New Asgard, though all the scenes with the apes, Jed, Carrie and Locke – actually an orangutan with dyed fur and prosthetic ears – were filmed on a reconstruction within a soundstage in order to maintain quarantine restrictions.
Originally given minor release in 1986 and now restored for Blu-ray release, Link is a curio of the attempts of the British industry to be internationally commercial with an attempt at comedy horror, starring Superman II’s Terence Stamp as Doctor Philip and Adventures in Babysitting‘s Elisabeth Shue as Jane, while Jerry Goldsmith largely mimics his earlier score for Gremlins, the overlaid whimsy emphasising that the animal antics are far from funny.
A brief excerpt from a talk given by Franklin the only contribution from anyone involved in the production, he confirms that the challenge was “putting together a performance from lots of tiny behaviours,” and Link is noticeably more dynamic when the apes are offscreen though Locke actually give a more expressive performance than Shue, his sad face and huge rolling eyes seemingly mocking his higher billed homo sapien leading lady.
With an enthusiastic appraisal of Franklin by Anna Bogutskaya and a commentary from Lee Gambin and Jarret Gahan, fans of the “when animals attack” subgenre of horror, the twenty four minutes of deleted scenes are interesting but in an already stilted production the question is why more footage was not excised to tighten the edit, though despite having no connection with the main narrative one scene which was left in offers a rare opportunity for Doctor Who fans to see Caroline “Liz Shaw” and her husband Geoffrey “the Master” Beevers perform together.
Link will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from StudioCanal from Monday 1st February