Horror Movie Review: Shakma (1990)

Shakma (also know as Panic in the Tower) is a 1990 horror film about a group of people trapped inside a medical school tower block who are being attacked by an insane baboon. Directed by Tom Logan and Hugh Parks. It stars Christopher Atkins, Amanda Wyss, Ari Meyers and Roddy McDowall.

Professor Sorenson (McDowall) runs a medical school & has created an experimental drug that is designed to lessen aggression in animals. Sam (Atkins) is one of his students who uses the drug on Shakma the baboon but it has the opposite effects.

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Shakma is sedated to be euthanised later after a group of students play their live action role playing game. Sorenson is the games master & the group must only communicate through him using walkie talkies with the aim being to solve clues to reach Kim (Meyers) on the top floor.

Unfortunately for the players, Shakma wakes up & goes on a rampage beginning with Sorenson. With him dead, the players can no longer communicate. The doors to the offices are all locked, the telephones are inaccessible & no-one knows that the killer baboon is on the loose.

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Shakma is a pretty terrible movie. It’s boring & takes ages to ever really get going. The characters are bland, the acting sub-standard & the effects mostly poor. The role-playing part of the story is so convoluted, a really gimmicky plot point. There were far better ways to get the cast trapped & out of contact with each other.

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When Shakma does enter the picture, the movie does improve but only slightly. The animal is a right little terror & it’s good to see almost everyone fall victim to the claws of the baboon. Unfortunately, they are far too many scenes of Shakma throwing himself against doors, cupboards & walls that pad out the runtime & drag an average movie down to even lower depths.

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The finale is the highlight of the film as the lone survivor, badly hurts comes up with a clever & well-planned trap for the baboon. It’s a satisfying finish but it’s just a pity the journey to it isn’t worth it.

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  • Carl Fisher

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