Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'The Relic' (1997)
'Night at the Museum' (rated R)
I really should make a point to read the fucking books... I'm a movie critic, people! Still, I'm sure there is subtle context in this movie that was lost in interpretation from the book.
Doesn't mater though, this movie is pretty good for horror. I just feel like there was a third layer to this movie that was a lot more supernatural than the garbage science this movie provides. They bring up the fact that this creature is a god, but like Phantoms (1998), it just gets painted over with broad, lame, Anglo-Christian bullshit. Stuff like 'the spawn of Satan,' that usual garbage. You can tell there's so much more to it, but the 'son of Satan' stuff is all you get.
Still, they put a lot of effort into the mythos of this movie, something that got a ton of shit from critics. And I never understood why. The concept is actually quite brilliant, though I'll have to save it for the spoilers. The plot is simple and digestible, the way it unfolds seems natural. The characters are tropey, sure, but as I've always said that's acceptable if done right and they're pretty smartly applied.
The acting is fine for horror. Yeah it's a little hammy, but it's horror. And because the characters are smartly defined, the dialog is solid. This delivers most of the exposition naturally with the plot, rather than dragging you though it by the nose or sitting you down and giving you a half-hour fucking lecture.
The setting was also brilliant. As horror heads, we've all imagined being locked in at least one of the nation's Natural History Museum at night. Hell, that's were the whole fucking concept for Night at the Museum comes from. But as Horror Heads, we believe in nightmares, not comedy, and while Ben Stiller was a hoot, half of us were wondering when something like The Kothoga was going to jump out and eat him. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is just fucking creepy. Hell, it's down right labyrinthine if you leave the areas open to the general public.
So why the fuck did critics hate on this movie so much? Why the fuck was it so forgotten? It's good, and original, and really greedy violent, and I personally think a must watch for Horror Heads.
Is it really a spoiler to say The Kothoga is real? I mean, you know this is a creature feature flick well before the half hour mark. What the fuck else could it be when that big black claw grabs the security guard? My only real complaint is the big reveal was kinda lame. Mostly because they clearly had concerns about their rubber monster and the CGI at the time was pretty bad. I've seen the full beast myself, it definitely benefits from being hidden in the shadows off camera.
But the creature is just so fucking cool. Basically, a fungus that carries a mutative property, once introduced to any living animal, begins to rewrite the DNA by adding reptilian DNA. The Maya who discovered the fungus use it to mutate an individual as a sort of unstoppable crack troop against their enemies. As long as they had plenty of the fungus to sate it, they could sort of control it. All they had to do was take away it's food supply, go into hiding, forcing it to get the chemicals it needed off the brains of their enemies, then wait for it to eventually starve to death.
So, what happens when a Anthropologist gets hooked on the stuff? He starts mutating into the great Kothoga. Unfortunately, the museum staff decide to incinerate his stash of fungus, unaware of what's happened to the man, and now with no way of controlling him, he proceeds to murder dozens of people, extracting the thalamus gland as a source of sustenance.
That's just really fucking neat! A lot of thought went into the creation and execution of this mythos.
Listen, I can't mention this movie without mentioning two of my favorite actors. Linda Hunt, and the late James Whitmore (The man who made me fall in love with Mark Twain).
If your a Horror Head and you haven't seen this movie, you absolutely must.