Flying Monkeys

Flying Monkeys

Written by Silvero Gouris
Directed by Robert Grasmere

Flying Monkeys
What did you say about my stinking paws???

Flying Monkeys is a perfect example of a SyFy flick. It’s got a swarm of ridiculous creatures, lots of bloody death, bad CGI, and random acting talent. Released to cash in on Oz: The Great and Powerful, Flying Monkeys wedges in two small Oz references, but then goes on its own direction in what may be one of the most liberal SyFy films ever.

Flying Monkeys
This monkey is a curse to all it touches…it was in Hangover 2!

Does Flying Monkeys promote exotic animals as pets, or is it a warning against them? Without being preachy, Flying Monkeys shows that exotic animals are smuggled into the US, are sold by a gun-packing jerk, and can cause horrible ecological damage and death when introduced to a new ecosystem. Also that they slaughter and devour entire towns full of random people, just like kudzu does!

Even more crazy, Flying Monkeys has a commentary on gun control! Flying Monkeys is anti-gun. If the flying monkeys (actually a Chinese mythological creature called a hsigo) are killed, they just turn into two hsigos. They can only be killed by special weapons blessed by the Emperor of China. Guns just make things worse, though they may cause a brief way to escape, they ultimately just increase the problem. Characters disparage how everyone in the US has a gun, because it makes the effort to kill the hsigos that much harder. Hsigos are like Gremlins, except they reproduce thanks to violent gun culture instead of water. Expand this out to how gun violence can create more gun violence, and Flying Monkeys is suddenly drawing a line in the sand.

Flying Monkeys
First we catch the monkey, then I argue with it about post-Baum Oz books and which should be considered canon, until it dies of boredom!

There is also a throwaway bit about how Skippy the flying monkey leader doesn’t kill Joan because she’s nice to him in monkey form. The hunters are shocked at this, stating because no one has ever been kind to a hsigo, ever. Then they go to kill him anyway, though this suggests that maybe, just maybe, the killer monkeys could be rehabilitated.

As we declared long ago, Type A SyFy films feature one (or a small number) of invincible creatures that slaughter everyone. Type B SyFy films (which Flying Monkeys is an example of) feature a whole swarm of creatures that slaughter everyone, but the creatures have a weakness in that they have a Queen-type creature that if killed, they all die. Type C SyFy films feature a whole swarm of killable creatures that slaughter everyone, with no leader creature. I’ve since added Type D SyFy flicks, which is when creatures battle each other, though those films can also fit in with any of the prior three types.

The hsigo of Chinese mythology (from what little I’ve found on them in English) are actually helper animals, winged monkeys with human faces. Their depiction in Flying Monkeys seems largely invented. The creatures are played by a mix of real monkeys, CGI, and gloved monster hands used for closeup shots. But let’s not forget the greatest thing of all, FLYING MONKEY VISION!

Flying Monkeys
Rainbow Heart: The sign of a true killer

Joan Palmer (Maika Monroe) – High school graduate and one day veterinarian who is getting over her mother’s death and her father’s lack of interest. Is gifted with a pet monkey, that turns out to be a killer flying monkey. It could happen to anyone! Maika Monroe is a famous kiteboarder turned movie star.
James Palmer (Vincent Ventresca) – Joan’s absentee dad who decided the best way to get over his wife’s death was to work himself to death and ignore his daughter. He begins to make up for it just in time for the flying monkeys attack! Interesting they made the Invisible Man into the Invisible Dad…
Sonya (Electra Avellan) – Joan’s friend who has the classic Kansan accent. She just wants to live life and party and shower without monkeys spying on her.
Yin (Boni Yanagisawa) – Female Hunter of hsigo whose clan has been doing so for centuries under order of the Emperor. Sure, the Emperor is long dead and China’s now run by a completely different government, but the hunt continues. Yin is very intense.
Chin-Lee (Lee Nguyen) – Hunter of the clan that was ordered to track down and destroy the rogue hsigos. Possibly the best actor in the entire movie.
Flying Monkeys (real monkeys, CGI, gloves) – These hsigo are cute monkeys by day, vicious winged killers by night. If you kill a hsigo, you only make it split in two and both of them mad! Joan names her monkey/hsigo Skippy, though later it is revealed the hsigo’s name is Nico (a traditional Chinese name??) and if he dies, all the hsigos die. Animated without hair, because CGI hair is expensive.
Wang (Alvin Chon) – Smuggler pilot and best character in the film!
Flying Monkeys

Flying Monkeys
It’s okay, kitty, we won’t make any cheeseburger jokes here!

Bad-acting exotic animal smugglers (who are reading even worse dialogue) are flying in more than they bargained for in their latest haul, as something breaks loose and begins slicing up the animals..and the crew! It’s a flying monkey!!! Wang the pilot is oh so happy to sell the lone monkey (which has since returned to cute monkey form) to thuggish exotic animal seller Rudy.

In Gale, Kansas (of course), it’s high school graduation day. An old gas station attendant drops the high school girls stay the same age quote from Dazed and Confused. Absentee dad James just misses his daughter Joan’s ceremony, which she blandly accepts as typical of her dad, who threw himself into work after the death of his wife/her mom. Despite the insistence of her friend Sonya and boyfriend Jason to go and get drunk and party, Joan would rather help animals at the shelter and head home to sleep.

James attempts to make it up to Joan by getting her a pet, which we all know will turn out to be the monkey from Rudy’s pet shop (which was snacking on the birds overnight!) A monkey gift makes up for a bit of bad parenting, and soon the monkey is named Skippy and he and Joan are best friends forever.

Flying Monkeys
Marcel from Friends, NOOOO!!!
Flying Monkeys
Live Action Gargoyles does the test shots for Kickstarter

Jason is not to thrilled that he has to compete with a monkey. He brings up the most lame argument ever and is jealous of the monkey getting quality time while his own monkey remains unsatisfied. As Jason is now a total jerk, I hope Flying Monkey goes all Monkey Shines on him!

Please note that Joan has a sock monkey doll and a stuffed gorilla on her bed. The set decorators in Flying Monkeys do a great job, and props to whoever that was!

At night…Skippy the monkey becomes a were-winged monkey…?? I don’t know what you call it, though luckily later in the film we learn it’s a hsigo. Jason has already moved on to boning the queen bitch valedictorian daughter of the sheriff, Chasity. But we got some coitus interruptus of the dead kind as Flying Monkey killifies him, and then chases after Chasity and kills her as well.

Just when you think this will be 90 minutes of random Kansas people dying, we’re suddenly in China and two siblings stroll up to an armed camp and give us some back story about how their family hunts rogue weaponized demons that look like flying monkeys called hsigo by order of the Emperor and the camp captured one for a plane ticket home. Also if you kill a hsigo, it turns into two hsigo unless you use one of the clan’s weapons that were blessed by the Emperor.

I can’t tell you how many times random people have come up to me while camping with a story like this!

Flying Monkeys
It’s a mad house! A mad house!
Flying Monkeys
Flying Monkey-vision is like if you see through Smurf pee…

The campers are suspicious until they get a wad of cash, and we got us a monkey hunt as the last remaining hsigo in China is killed. The siblings extort the location of the final hsigo (who is the leader king hsigo) and kidnap the pilot Wang to take them to Kansas. Wang was watching old black and white shorts of monkeys riding canoes and hysterically laughing like he’s 420 friendly, which I mention because it was so random.

In Kansas, the Flying Monkey is killing pigs, while Joan takes a few days to finally get suspicious that Skippy isn’t eating anything. Why won’t Monkey eat?

Eventually, Flying Skippy gets blasted, and soon the number of flying monkeys begins to multiply. Soon the monkeys will swarm, swarm!

After Jason’s funeral, a dorky kid named Paul stops by to remind us that he was briefly in the film long long ago (in a part so minuscule I forgot to write about him!) He badly acts a monologue about how he’d never cheat on you, Joan! Let’s make out!

This is so awkward. O. M. G.

Thank goodness the monkey attacks! Of course, the moron Paul kicks the monkey! Suck it, Paul! No one kicks a monkey and lives… Later Paul even shoots a random monkey, dressed in his Columbine camouflage best. But he soon learns that sometimes…the monkeys spank you!

Flying Monkeys
Jeez, flying monkey, maybe you should eat a sandwich or something…
Flying Monkeys
We are intense. It is the flying monkey hunter way.

The gas station guy who loves quoting Dazed and Confused also gets monkeyed! Joan sees Skippy transform into a flying monkey and follows, watching Skippy and his crew chow down on the gas station guy. She naturally freaks. She calls her dad, who calls the cops, and Sonya takes a shower.

Wait a minute….because the movie sure does, lingering on Sonya in the shower. She even gets peeped on by one of the flying monkeys, which causes her to panic and run to Joan’s house. James and the Sheriff run around town trying to find out what is going on and finding more bodies (including a pizza guy. Poor pizza guy, his pizzas were still warm…) Do pizza guys ever make it out okay in movies? Even in Men At Work the pizza guy’s girlfriend dumped him in the closing credits.

Sheriff and James are confronted by the Hunters, who brought Wang and animal seller Rudy, and explain that shooting the hsigos is bad because they multiply. The monkeys swarm and soon Chin-Lee, Sheriff, Rudy, and Wang are monkey chow! NOOOO!!! Not Wang!

Yin explains that if Skippy is killed, all the other hsigos will die. James takes her to his home, where Joan and Sonya are holed up. Skippy returns and kills Yin, then almost kills James twice, though he gets saved by Joan both times. Joan kills Skippy after saying “No more monkey business!”

All the other monkeys drop from the skies, even though it was daylight and they should have turned back into regular monkeys. Joan and her dad have a heart to heart on the porch as we end the film, which is sort of hilarious because Yin’s body should by lying right in front of them.

Flying Monkeys may be uneven and weird, but you have to give it credit for the underlying issues it deals with. From that alone, I’m saying go watch Flying Monkeys as soon as it repeats on SyFy!

Flying Monkeys
Hello me… Meet the real me, and my misfit’s way of life. A dark black past is my most valued possession
Flying Monkeys
What really happened to the Wicked Witch of the East

Rated 7/10 (Dog Deer Afternoon, boyfriend who just wants to get laid, poacher from China, monkey magic eyes, Google!, random friend who just wants to get laid, monkeys driving boats!)

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