A quadriplegic former athlete finds his darkest urges being acted out by an animal familiar in this psychological horror film.
When Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) loses the use of his legs and arms in an accident, he becomes bitter -- no surprise given that his girlfriend dumps him for his surgeon, his new nurse (Christine Forrest) is a shrew, and his smothering mother (Joyce Van Patten) keeps threatening to move in and take care of him.
Enter Kate McNeil (Melanie Parker), a scientist who is working to provide handicapped people with highly trained animal helpers. Soon Allan is bonding with Ella, an adorable Capuchin monkey, who, unbeknownst to him, has been injected with human brain tissue by drug-addicted scientist Geoffrey Fisher (John Pankow).
At first Allan loves little Ella, but the monkey seems to grow jealous as Allan slowly develops a romance with the beautiful Kate. Meanwhile, Allan begins having strange dreams in which he experiences the world from a monkey's-eye point of view.
These visions culminate in a fiery nightmare -- the same night Allan's ex-girlfriend and her new lover die in a house fire. Realizing the growing link between his own inner demons and the violence occurring around him, Allan tries to sever the connection with Ella. But the limitations of even his high-tech wheelchair give the psychic primate the upper hand.
Written and directed by horror veteran George Romero, Monkey Shines re-teams the filmmaker with his frequent collaborator, Christine Forrest.