Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Relic, A Stan Winston Creature attacks Chicago

The late 1990s were not friendly to horror films.  Movie audiences were not looking to go see them, and box offices were not inflated when one came to town.  Director Peter Hyams, fortunately for us, made one anyway.  In an age when Tom Sizemore was still Tom Sizemore, and Penelope Ann Miller was a big name, 1997's "The Relic" emerged.  This film also boasted of more big name cast members such as Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, and Audra Lindley.  Best of all, "The Relic" delivered to us, a Stan Winston creature.  Maligned in 1997, a look at this film in 2015 demonstrates that "The Relic" has aged well.  Oh yes, this film was produced by Gale Anne Hurd, the executive producer for "The Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead."
A derelict freighter is towed to the Chicago docks.  The eerie ship is deserted except for some decapitated crewmen in the bilge.  Lt. D'Agosta of the Chicago PD (Sizemore) is on the case. When a decapitated corpse shows up a week later at the Chicago Natural History Museum, the good detective heads over there.  The freighter arrived from Brazil, and the museum just received some mysterious crates, also from Brazil.  Dr. Margo Green (Miller) and Dr. Frock (Whitmore) discover some weird biological attributes about the contents of the crates.  As the museum preps for a very important fundraiser, D'Agosta believes the killer is still loose somewhere in the museum.  Uh-oh!  Something is growing and eating brains in the bowels of the museum.
Oh yes, some other strange species also pop up.  In one scene, Margo is attacked by a giant beetle/reptile hybrid.  Something in the crates is causing species to mutate and send forth vicious hybrids.  More attacks occur, but D'Agosta cannot convince the mayor and his department to cancel the fundraiser.  As the filthy rich show up in tuxes and gowns, and the champagne and fancy hors d' ouvres are prepared, a giant reptile/human/insect/and-who-knows-what-else (..but created by Stan Winston, complete with mandibles) makes it's way over to the party. Many of the filthy rich and political hacks will lose their heads, and all out panic will set in.  Now D'Agosta and Margo (clad in a black, slinky party dress) must work together to figure out what this thing is and find a way to kill it.
Good creature! Good Gore! Good horror!  Also, perhaps this film serves nicely as a metaphor for our friends in ChiTown illustrating how out of touch the ruling political class of that city has become. A word of warning to Chicago pols and their financial backers.....we find ourselves cheering at their demise.  Available on Netflix, enjoy a good monster film in "The Relic."

1 comment:

  1. As a Chicagoland native, I somehow missed this horror flick filmed in my home town, but on the recommendation of this post, I watched it last night on Netflix. One aspect that you didn't mention was the total big city cool of Tom Sizemore, while chasing down this head decapitating/brain munching monster. He hardly broke a sweat. Never freaked out. It was just another day on the mean streets of Chicago. Made me proud.