The Canceled Monkey Island Movie

It did exist, or it was at least well on its way to. A Steven Spielberg-produced, David Carson-directed Curse of Monkey Island—related in name only—stumbled through a concept phase before it was canceled alongside a Sam & Max feature. In 2013, we published an article about the film which you can read on Mojo.

The Official Synopsis

The film starts out with a pirate stealing a glowing jewel, the Eye of the Monkey, from the head of a stone monkey idol. The pirate falls, and the jewel is taken from him by LeChuck, who appears in human form. The jewel is the final ingredient he needs to execute his evil plan. Suddenly, infuriated monkeys appear, chasing away LeChuck and his crew. LeChuck then throws the jewel to Murray, who is his second-in-command and still in possession of all of his body parts, commanding him to guard the jewel with his life. Read the full synopsis.

When the pirates reach the safety of their ship, they are attacked by a fleet of ironclad ships, commanded by Elaine Marley, Captain of the Navy’s Anti-Pirate Armada. LeChuck manages to escape from the scene of the battle by firing a smart cannonball. LeChuck’s ship’s pirate flag then sinks in the ocean, eventually arriving at Mêlée Island, where it is picked up by Guybrush Threepwood, who is then a twenty-year-old chum-bait fisherman, dressed in a polyester pirate costume. He lives on a houseboat that’s done up like a miniature pirate ship, together with Sam, his pet monkey.

Guybrush returns to the bait company HQ, where he threatens to quit his job, like he does every day. His boss, Sean Cannery, does not take him seriously, however. Depressed, he starts talking to a statue on the docks, which actually speaks back to him, telling him to follow his dream.

Meanwhile, back at sea, Elaine is on LeChuck’s tail. Murray devises a plan to get rid of her: create a decoy and then escape to Voodoo Island. The pirates like this plan, which LeChuck presents as his own, and break out in singing. Guybrush hears this and looks up to see LeChuck’s magnificent ship pass in front of him. This inspires him so that he decides to follow the ship, sailing after it with his own boat.

In the Scumm Bar, LeChuck tries to recruit new crew members, but he doesn’t succeed - the bar patrons are all afraid of him. Guybrush walks by the Scumm Bar and hears LeChuck’s speech, and he is interested in joining LeChuck in his master plan of uniting all pirates under one black flag. Guybrush is tasked with finding the Treasure of Monkey Island, and he is given LeChuck’s ship. Six barflies from the Scumm Bar sign up with Guybrush’s crew, after receiving bribe money and death threats. LeChuck hands Guybrush his Monkey Island map, and he promises to find the treasure or die trying.

LeChuck and his crew are now on Guybrush’s (much too small) houseboat, and the decoy seems to be working: Elaine is now pursuing Guybrush, who is captaining LeChuck’s former ship. Guybrush’s crew turn out to be a bit of an unruly lot, and while they argue amongst themselves, Elaine has come aboard to imprison Guybrush and his crew on their own ship. Through a cunning plan involving a cannon, he manages to escape, however. The cannonball used in this escape attempt sets off a chain reaction, eventually sinking all the ships in Elaine’s fleet. Now the tables are turned: Elaine is Guybrush’s prisoner.

On Voodoo Island, LeChuck meets with a man-hungry Sea Hag to execute his secret plan of using the Eye of the Monkey to revive all dead pirates, so he can unite all pirates living and dead. When the moment comes to add the final ingredient, the Eye of the Monkey, Murray pulls it out of his pocket. Or rather, it turns out to be one of Sam’s walnuts. This so angers the Spirits of the Dead that they turn LeChuck and his crew into zombie skeletons. LeChuck realizes Guybrush and Sam must have stolen the jewel and replaced it with a walnut, so he sets off after them, together with the Sea Hag.

When Guybrush reveals to his crew that their destination is Monkey Island, they are terrified, because the waters surrounding it are known for their sea monsters. He tries to convince them there’s nothing to fear, but he doesn’t succeed, as a baby sea monster just came on deck. Guybrush faces off against the creature, showing off in front of Elaine, but then the baby’s mother appears, and she’s angry. The crew flee, leaving only Guybrush and Elaine to fight off the sea monster. They now have to unite against a common enemy. They shoot the baby sea monster away with a cannon (which he apparently rather enjoys), forcing the mother to leave the battle to go after her child.

Guybrush and his crew, together with Elaine and Sam arrive on Monkey Island, where they find the monkey idol. Guybrush approaches it, thinking he has found the treasure, but is stopped by an angry horde of monkeys. Sam then saves the day when he returns the Eye of the Monkey, and he is hailed by the monkeys of Monkey Island as a hero. Guybrush still keeps looking for the treasure, but his crew abandons him. Elaine tries to convince him to give up working for LeChuck and just enjoy himself, but deep inside, Guybrush is still a bait-boy, following orders.

Back on his ship, Guybrush encounters zombie LeChuck, who tells him that if he can bring him back the Eye of the Monkey, he can still be a member of his crew. He is hesitant at first, but LeChuck manages to convince him to go back to the island and attempt getting back the jewel. He removes the Eye from its socket again. With all the monkeys and Elaine against him, Guybrush still insists on following his dreams of becoming a pirate. He takes the jewel to LeChuck and his zombie crew. When the ceremony is again performed (using some of Guybrush’s blood against his will), it succeeds. Pirate ships rise up from the ocean everywhere, crewed by skeleton pirates. Some of the ships even fly.

Elaine, together with Guybrush’s crew, attacks LeChuck, but they are no match for the innumerable Dead Sea Pirates. Guybrush then comes to his senses, knowing it’s up to him to do something. He asks Sam to throw him a sword, but all he can find is a fishing rod. While the monkeys battle it out with the pirates, Guybrush manages to snag the jewel from LeChuck using his fishing rod. Brandishing it, he orders the Dead Sea Pirates to stand down for a captain’s duel. Guybrush is on the losing hand when Elaine fires a cannon at LeChuck, which contained not a cannonball, but the baby sea monster who had sneaked in for another flight. The baby’s monster then devours LeChuck.

Sea Pirates to return to their watery graves, which they do (but not before taking some treasure with them). Guybrush returns the Eye of the Monkey to its former place once and for all, and says goodbye to Sam, who has decided to stay with his fellow monkeys on Monkey Island. Guybrush and Elaine embrace aboard the houseboat, and they set off into the sunset, heading for Mêlée Island, cheered on by their crew.

An Example of (Innocent?!) Similarities Between Pirates and Monkey Island

I mean, yeah, they’re not exactly dissimilar.

Movie Booklet from the Special Edition. Scans by Nicolas Deneschau.