Found-Again Friday: The Relic (Movie)

Why Found-Again? I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve owned this for quite some time; it forms one half of my only non-Vincent-Price horror twofer with Pet Sematary 2 (and I still wonder if that’s because someone thought the blonde housekeeper in the latter was Penelope Ann Miller, who stars in The Relic).

I remembered it as being not bad, despite the absence of the original book’s main character—Aloysius X.L. “Men Want To Be Him, This Writer Wants To Pre-Order Every Book About Him, Preferably NOW” Pendergast—and a few other point-of-view characters from the novel. In fairness, unkillable ex-special-ops genius gazillionaire Pendergast could easily become the least believable thing in even a horror movie.

The Premise: Something is killing people at the natural history museum where Margo Green (Miller) is a postdoc. It’s up to Margo and police lieutenant D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) to unravel the mystery of the creature—both its origins in a failed expedition and what to do about it now—and when the security system malfunctions at a museum gala, hundreds of people are trapped with a hungry monster.

Considering how many cheap tricks the movie starts with—a garden-variety jungle scene, a cat scare, making D’Agosta superstitious because the museum is having a Superstition exhibit, get it?—and the number of characters cut in the adaptation, The Relic is surprisingly faithful to the source material. I’d even argue that it ends up further humanizing some of the characters that remain, especially the museum official played by Linda Hunt (though that could be because Linda Hunt is always terrific). The transition from murder investigation to full-on monster-based chaos is especially good, as a perfect storm of technical glitches and human panic starts what the creature wants to finish. And the end is tense (and fiery, which differs from the book, but by that time, who cares?).

The Verdict: Mixed, in that one minute I was writing down all the things I liked about it and the next I just wanted to take a break and finish watching tomorrow. It does lag a bit before the exhibit opening, but all in all, I think The Relic is underrated—even without you-know-who.

I’d also like to note, even though there are now websites for this sort of thing, that one fewer dog dies in this movie than in the book. When was the last time a movie did that?

Might go well with: Salad, kebabs, and if you enjoy fire on film, the first Hellboy movie. (Note: I think nearly everything in life goes well with the first Hellboy movie.)


Next time: The final fight in Highlander is upon us. There may even be audio.

Found-Again Friday(ish): Holiday Edition—You Can Go Home Again, But Maybe Don’t

So far I have driven nearly flooded roads, permanently cut a relative from my life, and slipped and fallen on an icy safety ramp: Christmas, and parts of my tailbone, are a bust.

My old favorite bookstore is still here, though, so I am celebrating Pendergastmas instead.

Ordinarily, this seems like it would be more dangerous than mere Christmas...
Ordinarily, this seems like it would be more dangerous than mere Christmas…

Twofer The Horrorshow: A Personal Tour

When I had this post in mind, I thought I had five of those things: the bargain solution for entertainment that keeps my shelves from occasionally running red…er, black with horror DVDs. It turns out I never got around to buying the original  House of Wax on a twofer with the original Night of the Living Dead, because I hate Romero-style zombies and didn’t want it in my house—and if that meant pre-pseudonym Bronson had to stay out too, so be it.

Nonetheless, with Halloween drawing nigh, I’ve been thinking about these four a lot, each in a category all its own.

THE LITERARY: Tales of Terror/Twice-Told Tales


(Pardon my flash on the photo.)

Like most of the twofers, this stars the amazing and wonderful Vincent Price: in this case in two anthology movies, one with Poe stories and one with Hawthorne. The stories themselves are hit or miss (personally, I’d have preferred House of the Seven Gables to be as soapy when I read it in tenth grade as it is in this reincarnated-lovers-heavy adaptation), but with additional talent including Sebastian Cabot, Peter Lorre, Beverly Garland and Basil Rathbone, it’s a lot of fun.

THE ONE-SIDED—TO ME, ANYWAY: The Haunted Palace/Tower of London


More Price, this time in Corman’s Poe/Lovecraft unholy hybrid, The Haunted Palace, and as Richard III in Tower of London. I’ve owned this DVD for years, but since Haunted Palace is my favorite Vincent Price horror movie, every time I try to watch the other side, I just end up watching Haunted Palace again.

THE UNFORTUNATE: The Oblong Box/Scream and Scream Again


Did you know that Christopher Lee and Vincent Price cancel each other out? I didn’t when I bought this, but it soon became apparent. Possibly nothing could redeem the whacked-out Scream and Scream Again, a movie with serial killers and amputations and mad scientists and fascists in uniforms and lots of Mod clothing. (You will notice I didn’t mention a plot. When you find it, please let me know.) But The Oblong Box is a perfectly nice little voodoo/burial alive movie that should be great with those two stars in it, but isn’t. While I’m not about to throw away a Price/Lee twofer, I’m not about to watch it, either.

THE INEXPLICABLE: The Relic/Pet Sematary 2


It’s no exaggeration to say the only reason I own this is that its existence as a twofer baffles me: Who looks at a monster-in-a-museum movie (incidentally, a Pendergastless adaptation of Preston and Child’s first Agent Pendergast novel) and thinks, “You know what would go great with this? That movie where Edward Furlong is creepier than a devil dog and zombie Clancy Brown combined, even when he’s just standing there.” In fairness, both of these movies were better than I remembered when I rewatched them, but the combination remains bizarre.


Next time: “…when they met, it was murder.”

Three Kinds of Complicated Relationships With Books

This post comes with a couple of caveats: the first is that I am not, by using specific examples, trying to say that any book I mention here is bad. When I am trying to say that, I will leave you in no doubt.

The second is that the title probably doesn’t mean what you think it means: there’s been a lot in the media lately about the perils (if any) of liking things that are problematic in terms of, say, race, gender treatment, violence, etc. But this isn’t about that. This is living-room stuff.


1. The Masochist Read

Three things I find unnerving: frogs, eyeballs, the end of the world.

One thing I love: Hellboy comics, in which characters I adore are basically wallowing 24/7 in the entire list above.

These are the books you keep going back to and it sort of torments you, not necessarily because of the kind of problematic material I mentioned above but because, strictly considered, reading them is not you. You don’t read the book where they kill the dog for a cheap scare. You don’t read the romance where it’s A-OK for the heroine to end up with someone who appears to be an alcoholic. You don’t read the techno-thriller with details so transparently flimsy you start mentally adding scare-quotes to the narrative. Except you do.

2. That Series Book You Hate

The very first Terry Pratchett novel I ever read was Small Gods. My least favorite Pratchett book: also Small Gods. In theory, one of the marvelous things about the Discworld novels is that the world of the series is big enough for readers to only follow the characters they want to, but try telling that to Me Circa 1994–2004, who just couldn’t bring herself to stick the book in the Goodwill bag. For series readers, completism can be like a sickness, and you end up giving shelf space/device memory to things you’ll never read again.

3. Discreet Dalliances

Now more than ever, e-books have made it possible to hide away the books you don’t want anyone to see you reading: the pop-lit, the young-adult books, the steamy romances, the improbable thrillers with equally improbable heroes. (15 days till the next Pendergast novel comes out, but don’t say I’m the one who told you). In some ways, this one is the opposite of number 2 above, in that shame is causing you to not use bookshelf space. Wouldn’t want anybody seeing that you have Roger Moore’s autobiography, would we?


What are the books you have complicated relationships with?


Next time: A seasonal meditation on two-movies-on-1-DVDs…because I have no non-horror two-movies-on-1-DVDs.