The Relic (1997)

June 16, 2010 - 8:53pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: 90's, based on book, cheesy, Chi Muoi Lo, Clayton Rohner, creature feature, James Whitmore, Linda Hunt, monster, Penelope Ann Miller, Peter Hyams, The Relic, Tom Sizemore, underrated

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Peter Hyams
Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, Clayton Rohner, Chi Muoi Lo

The Relic is a movie that I've been wanting to revisit for a while now. I was lucky enough to catch the film in theaters and eventually picked it up on VHS, but hadn't seen it again until I found it for cheap on Blu-ray. This is yet another flick that I'd proudly consider a guilty pleasure and feel that it's a bit underrated as far as creature features go.

The story centers around Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller), a biologist who works at a Natural History Museum in Chicago, which is days away from holding a new Superstition exhibit. The museum receives a crate full of mysterious leaves and a small statue of a mythical beast known as "Kothoga" (a half-man-half-demon-type creature) that was seemingly sent from a colleague, who apparently never returned after investigating a newly-discovered tribe in South America.

Along with the leaves is a strange fungus growing on some of the leaves, which Margo decides to analyze before throwing the rest in the incinerator. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the staff at the museum, a creature is now among them that may be a product of the fungus. Can they stop the foul beast before the exhibit opens to the public? Let's hope not!!

We're also given a sub-plot involving a couple detectives (Tom Sizemore and Clayton Rohner), who are investigating the deaths in the museum and that of dozens of crew members of the ship that once contained the crate. Hmmm.. connection? The film does have a rather slow start, that aside from a lot of the scientific jargon, we get a couple brief kills and a decent build up to the "main event" involving the grand opening of the Superstition exhibit that's expectedto have dozens of guests, including the mayor of the city.

Luckily for us the exhibit proceeds, despite warnings from Margo, and all hell breaks loose once the creature reveals itself. Most of the people make it out before the museum goes into lockdown mode and traps the remaining survivors inside with the beast.

With effects from Stan Winston Studios the look of the "Kothoga" creature was pretty impressive at the time (for me anyway), but naturally doesn't really hold up by today's standards, especially with the new high-def transfer that details the CG sequences in a more obvious manner. However we are also given some nice practical effects, namely with close-ups of the beast.

The movie gives a decent amount of the red stuff, especially since the Kothoga has a hunger for a certain part of the human brain, so you can expect a few beheadings courtesy of its tusk-like teeth. Naturally the pic is filled with a lot of plot-holes and logical issues, but you can't expect much realism from this particular sub-genre. Aside from some pacing issues in the start, the movie is a pretty fun effort, primarily when the carnage begins after the exhibit opens.

The Relic has its fair share of plot-holes, predictability and cheese, but it's ultimately a fun creature feature that offers a decent-lookin' beast and a good amount of carnage to boot. Worth a check!

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FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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