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The Relic (1997)
Reviewed on 2012 January 18
I’ve always had a soft spot for this piece of cheese, adapted from the awesome Preston & Child novel Relic. There’s lots of deviations from the book, but it’s still a good, old-fashioned monster movie.
A sleek exhibit on superstition is about to open at the Natural History Museum in Chicago, and the beautiful people in the Windy City are almost excited about the upcoming glittery premiere party for this thing as the museum staff. Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller) is walking on eggshells, hoping for a nice, juicy grant to continue the research done by her woefully underfunded evolutionary biology team. Her cheerleader, Dr. Ann Cuthbert (Linda Hunt), is encouraging her to put down the microscope and go to the bash to charm the grant out of some backers, but Dr. Green fears her slimy colleague Dr. Greg Lee (Chi Muoi Lo) will sleaze it right out from under her.
The grant is soon to become the least of her worries. After the arrival of some mysterious crates from South America, people start dying. Someone or something is apparently going through the museum and randomly crunching heads off people as though they were chocolate Santas. If that’s not gruesome enough, the thing actually appears to be eating the thymus glands.
Here we have a huge, drooling monster with a fondness for human sweetbreads, a museum at night (the Field Museum, you Chicago fans), and a veil of science (however stretched) and superstition over the whole thing. What’s not to love? Penelope Ann Miller is good as Dr. Green, and Linda Hunt is always great, but I also got a kick out of Chi Muoi Lo as the repulsive Greg. It ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s an old-fashioned monster flick with decent acting and a tangible critter instead of CGI. There were a few sequences where it was too dark to see properly, but the eerie setting made up for it. It’s also fun to see Audra Lindley, a.k.a. Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company, playing a smart-mouthed coroner.
Three chocolate morsels. And not only is Relic a great book, its sequel Reliquary is wonderful too.