The Relic (1997)

The Relic (1997), photographed and directed by Peter Hyams.

I love a good creature feature. "Good" is relative of course; this is not exactly a high art form, but entertainment comes in surprising packages.

We always struggle against well-worn cliches, looking for a hook, something to elevate the fun thrills. Here we have great use of the Chicago skyline and location shooting both inside and out of the Field Museum.

The likable, intelligent leads also give great support:

We get the setup early on but there is a slow middle where the characters have to discover the awful truth. And: it is a big facility. Those at the gala don't know what is happening in the tunnels. When the action starts there is a lot of it.

Another plus: even the minor characters are quirky, giving a steady comedy gloss to the horror.


Available on Blu-ray. The many dark scenes cannot look top-notch on that media.

The director provides a relaxed commentary. He cites William Goldman: "We screenwriters have all read Shakespeare so we know we are all second-rate". Similarly, Hyams: "I've seen Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and I know I will never achieve a film like that".