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

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Flying Monkeys swarm SyFy!!

Flying Monkeys syfy

What was shot as Winged Terror is now airing as Flying Monkeys on SyFy on March 9th! Despite knowing the film was shot in Louisiana (at the same time as Heebie Jeebies), there isn’t much out there for Flying Monkeys. Electra Avellan, Alvin Chon, Christopher Matthew Cook star (IMDB doesn’t seem to have any big names at all) and the director, Robert Grasmere, was one of the writers of Baby Geniuses and is making his directorial debut.

This has the potential to be utterly ridiculous or ridiculously awesome. Let’s hope it isn’t the worst sin of all…boring! I can say that there doesn’t seem to be any Oz puns in the listed cast, even if the airing seems to coincide with being a mockbuster for Oz: The Great and Powerful.

pic via EW