This is a first in a series of 'Netflix streaming roulette' reviews. The concept? Michael Taylor reviews the first horror film streaming that he's never seen before. Wish him luck.

'Shakma' (aka 'Panic In The Tower') is a 1990 horror movie starring Roddy McDowall. And that's just about the only distinction you can give it.

The plot is certainly novel; a group of geeky scientists play a live-role playing game in the after hours of their medical research lab. But they pick a terrible night to do so.

That's because a baboon they've made homicidal (due to experimental drugs) has escaped and begins picking them off one by one.

The game the staff plays is called 'Nemesis', which is a total ripoff off 'Dungeons and Dragons.'
And this in large part is the issue with 'Shakma.' It's a ripoff from other killer-mutant-animal horror films.
The look of the film is cheap and tawdry, TV movie style, with a chintzy synth score.
As a reviewer who loves a 'so bad it's good' movie, 'Shakma' is unfortunately a disappointment, providing no scares, and laughs that are few and far between. Christopher Atkins ('Blue Lagoon') plays a vaguely likable hero, but he's too vanilla to bring anything of substance to the proceedings. This goes for much of the cast, who are as bland as the lighting, which absorbs the film of any aspect of dread.

The best and strangest performance goes to Tre Laughlin, who plays a super-nerd with a strangely affected voice and leering manner. It's clear he's having fun in his role. He's in the spirit of someone who knows he's in a stinker, but still gives it his all. If everyone else was as invested, 'Shakma' might have been a guilty pleasure.
And McDowall gives a phoned in performance. I get the feeling he was cast simply to give a nod to his roles in 'Planet of The Apes.'
It's also worth noting the killer baboon isn't intimidating. It's too small in stature to deliver a cinematic threat (even if we all know small primates are still inordinately strong).
In the end, 'Shakma' fails to succeed at being scary or being endearingly bad. A failed experiment indeed. get streaming online  the 'Shakma' on

Released 1990.
Running Time: 141 minutes.
Directed by Tom Logan
Starring Christopher Atkins, Roddy McDowall, Ari Meyers and Amanda Wyss.