Saturday, October 19, 2013

Horror movie review #18 - The Relic (1997)

Most horror movies are small-budget affairs, starring mostly little-known actors.  The majority of the film's budget is usually spent on the special effects, even if they aren't first-rate.  Sometimes, every once in a while, Hollywood gets together to make a decent, blockbuster-sized monster movie.  Sometimes you wind up with something like Godzilla (1998) with Matthew Broderick, which wasn't bad, but wasn't spectacular, either, in my opinion.  And then sometimes, you end up with The Relic.

The Relic (1997) stars Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller.  There's a scattering of other well-known actors among the cast, notably Linda Hunt as the museum curator and Clayton Rohner and John Kapelos as fellow police officers trying to assist Lt D'agosta (Sizemore) in his task.  But, let's sum up the movie shall we?  Let's take this in two parts, one from the perspective of Lt. D'agosta, and one from the perspective of Penelope Ann Miller, who plays Dr. Margo Green.

Lt. D'agosta is going through a rough divorce when he's summoned to the Chicago docks.  It appears a ghost ship has wandered into Lake Michigan and been towed to the docks.  A ghost ship that sailed from south america.  There's no one on board, nothing but blood.  And then D'agosta follows his nose, and finds the bodies.  Or what remains of them.  As far as he can tell, the bodies were torn apart in a violent drug raid by some drug traffickers.  However, he can find no drugs on board.  A week later, a night guard at the local museum is torn apart, in a similar fashion to the bodies aboard the ghost ship.  Now what the hell does a museum guard have to do with a bunch of bodies from south america?

Dr. Green is having financial problems.  Her research project is in danger of losing it's funding to a fellow researcher.  Her research project is a program that can quickly map out a DNA sequence from a small sample and genetically determine the identity of the source animal.  Her program is still in the developmental stages but the working prototype could be invaluable to rapidly identifying DNA samples in any situation.  A shipment from a Dr. Whitney at the museum comes in from south america.  Inside a sealed crate are a bunch of packing leaves, a puzzle which intrigues the otherwise scientifically biased Margo.  Researching the viral fungus attached to the leaves, she determines that the substance is a hormonal cocktail capable of rapid and irreversible DNA alteration.  But why would Dr. Whitney send the leaves without warning them?  And just where the hell IS Dr. Whitney?

This movie spends about the first hour building suspense and setting up the backstory.  An hour may sound like a long time, but while it might drag in other movies, it flies by in this one.  The characters are introduced, a whodunnit mystery is in progress, and suspense and tension are just oozing from every scene.  And then the last 45 minutes are all pure adrenaline charged action, petrifying horror and violently frightening scenes of mayhem and slaughter.  The acting is good, the special effects are excellent, and ending was even better than I expected.  This is the kind of horror movie that horror movies should aspire to.  It was exciting, there was an understandable and scientifically-based backstory that got explained fully throughout the film, and the action didn't pause long enough for you to get bored of the explanation.  I have watched it a dozen times and I could watch it a dozen more.  No nudity, but the presence of an actual horror movie monster more than makes up for it.  And an original one, not even a werewolf ripoff or a vampire or some other such tripe!  An original movie monster is pretty rare these days, and pretty much nothing in this movie happens the way you'd expect it, except the guys who deserve to die, usually do.  lol

This movie's playing on netflix if you want to watch it.  Might even have a double feature tomorrow night, depending on what I can find.  Choosing what movies to watch is the hardest part of the review process, lemme tell ya.  I get like a few hours to find a movie, whether it's on TV or on Netflix, and then watch and review it   I don't want to review a movie I don't like, any more than I want to watch a movie I don't like, as I don't get much enjoyment from that unless I get the chance to trash the shit out of the movie after.  lol  It's even worse if I haven't seen the movie before, as I have to watch at least a few moments of it to see if I'm going to like it.  Some days, I'll go through half a dozen different movie beginnings trying to find something good to watch and review, and still end up failing to find something good.  Other days, I just don't have any extra time, and have to settle on the first thing I can find.  If only my game playing and having fun didn't interfere with my movie reviewing, eh?  lol

Til tomorrow night, then!

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