Beer Goggles: The Relic (1997)

Director: Peter Hyams

Starring: Tom Sizemore, Penelope Ann Miller, James Whitmore

Review Author: Tony

When it comes to Beer Goggles, there’s no shortage of obscure horror movies, so we generally have our hands full picking a new film. This month I chose to find something a little more current in a decade which is largely neglected when it comes to horror films, The 90s. Not only did I want to concentrate on this decade but also a specific horror genre, the creature feature. Creature features are my guilty pleasure as seeing a silly latex monster tear his victims to pieces in the most gruesome way conceivable brings a warmth to my heart.

Just like Tom Sizemore’s career, The Relic has slipped into obscurity. I only stumbled upon it by chance when I was searching for various little known 90s horror flicks. The synopsis grabbed me immediately. Something about a mutated monster terrorizing a museum just spoke to me at that moment in time, or perhaps it may have derived from the five empty cans sitting beside my desk. My choice was made, and I decided to crack on.

Relic - L'evoluzione del terrore (1997) - Backdrops — The Movie ...

As I pointed out before, the bulk of The Relic takes place in a museum with a strange monster stalking its galleries with an affinity for decapitation. How the monster turns up in the museum is held secret until the third act, but the opening scene tells you that it’s connected to some white explorer fuckery and an indigenous tribe. Soon bodies pile up and the police detective, Tom Sizemore, spots a connection to a recent string of murders on a freighter (the ship the monster was transported on). Sizemore must team up with a red-haired lady from the museums science department to say the word hypothalamus as frequent as humanly possible and get to the bottom of the murders while the museum curators allow as much people to die as possible just to keep the lights on.

Jumping into The Relic five cans deep was not the wisest choice as the first twenty minutes drops a tonne of information and moves from scene to scene so quick I had to pause and read the Wikipedia page just to catch up. It may have been nonsense, but I was not following and wisely decided to hold off on anymore beers. Around the midpoint the film fell into its grove as a solid monster flick and I had sobered up enough by that point to enjoy it.

There’s a recurring theme of science vs. superstition throughout that even my drunk self thought was as subtle as a kick to the balls. This is none more evident than when the science lady constantly scoffs at Sizemore and his superstitious ways such as not stepping over a penny or walking under a ladder and making sure no mirror is ever broken (these events may or may not have happened). The film tries to make a scientific explanation for the creature about DNA splicing, but all I remembered was a computer flashing with pictures of a bunch of animals and a guy that made up the creature and the science lady confirming it with a shocked look and saying “oh my god”.

The Relic (1997) – Peter Hyams – The Mind Reels

When the film wasn’t trying to present anything in terms of a plot, it was actually composed of some pretty great scenes. The monster needs to feed on a part of the brain so he rips the heads of his victims which made for some gnarly effects. A particular scene where a SWAT team drops into the museum and are then proceeded to be slaughtered almost immediately was incredibly fun and greatly pleased my drunk self. When the monster isn’t a CGI abomination, the animatronics and creature effects are top notch. I looked it up and saw it was created by the great Stan Winston. Despite all the supposed animals it consists of, the creature looks perfectly alien and unique.

Boasting a fantastic creature design, a fun setting, gruesome kills and a solid leading man in Sizemore (remember when this guy wasn’t a scumbag and could act?), The Relic is a pretty entertaining film. When the film tries to tie in themes and plot, it becomes laughable, especially when it seems to take its science so seriously. I had a couple of beers, a few laughs. Trying to get a decent HD image for this film is a fucking nightmare though.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 hypothalamus

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