Shakma (1990)


USA. 1990.


Director/Producer – Hugh Parks, Screenplay – Roger Engle, Photography – Andrew Breber, Music – David C. Williams, Art Direction – Edward Bennett. Production Company – Quest Entertainment


Christopher Atkins (Sam), Amanda Wyss (Tracy), Roddy McDowall (Professor Sorenson), Ari Meyers (Kimberly), Greg Flowers (Richard), Robb Morris (Gary), Tre Laughlin (Bradley), Ann Kymberlie (Laura)


Professor Sorenson, the head of a university med school, organizes a live-action role-playing game for several of his students using the laboratory building after hours. However, after they are locked in and the game begins, Shakma, a lab baboon that has become crazed because of the test drugs injected into it, escapes and begins killing the players.

Shakma has a fairly improbable scenario as horror films go – a group of live-action role-players lock themselves in a med lab after hours only to be hunted by a baboon that has been transformed into a killer by drug experiments. Unfortunately, this is an outlandish premise that the rest of the film fails to rise to in any way. In fact, there isn’t really anything else to the film other than the idea. The basic concept is conveyed to one by a cursory reading of the video cover but when one sits down to watch the film, that is it, there is nothing else, no surprises beyond the basic concept. Once the premise is set up, the rest of the script exists solely as something designed to stretch between the killing of one character and the next. Director Hugh Parks at least does a passable job with the suspense, while some of the shots of the psychotically crazed baboon frenziedly throwing itself against locked doors are modestly effective.

Shakma was probably the best film of director Hugh Parks who also directed The Vampyre Wars (1996) but has only made trashy teenspolitation films elsewhere. As writer-producer only, Parks has made several other little-seen films of genre interest:– The Spring (1989) about the modern day search for Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth; After School (1989) where a school classroom travels back into prehistory; and the split personality psycho-thriller Deadly Innocents (1990).

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