Combustible Celluloid
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With: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, Clayton Rohner, Chi Muoi Lo, Thomas Ryan, Robert Lesser, Diane Robin, Lewis Van Bergen, Constance Towers, Francis X. McCarthy, Audra Lindley, John Kapelos, Tico Wells
Written by: Amy Holden Jones, John Raffo, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, based on a novel by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
Directed by: Peter Hyams
MPAA Rating: R for monster violence and gore, and for language
Running Time: 105
Date: 01/10/1997

The Relic (1997)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Museum Piece

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I'm not exactly sure what was in the air in 1997 that so many critics gave this dumb horror movie a pass, including "two thumbs up" from Siskel & Ebert.

The story comes from a million other movies (mainly Jaws and Alien), and it's completely and totally predictable. The monster doesn't appear until late in the film, and all the time between, the movie is too dark and the images too shaky and choppy.

Penelope Ann Miller plays Dr. Margo Green, an anthropologist for the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. When a colleague mysteriously sends back some crates from South America, a giant beastie gets loose in the museum, which seems to have no end of dark, dank tunnels snaking beneath the main floor. After some grisly murders, the cops investigate, and Lieutenant D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore) wants to shut down the museum on the eve of an important benefit gala.

But when they find a scapegoat for the killings, the gala goes on as scheduled, with all the guests marked as potential beastie snacks.

Dr. Green spends most of the movie trapped in the dark bowels of the museum, while the majority of the climactic footage focuses on screaming extras and a general ruckus in the dark (the emergency fire sprinklers go off, so all the extras are wet as well).

Amy Jones, the director of the original The Slumber Party Massacre, was a screenwriter.

Lionsgate released this Paramount feature on a new Blu-Ray disc in 2010. It comes with an interview with director Peter Hyams, who went on to make more bad movies.

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