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'The Relic'

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 10, 1997

It’s a familiar story in the horror film business: good novel, terrible adaptation (just ask Stephen King and Clive Barker). As written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, "The Relic" deserved to be taken off the shelf; as adapted by a quartet of screenwriters and directed by Peter Hyams, it should have been left on one.

Set in Chicago’s Field natural history museum, the film pits evolutionary biologist Penelope Ann Miller and homicide detective Tom Sizemore against something that’s ripping heads off innocent folks.

Turns out to be the mythic Brazilian beast known as Kothoga, son of Satan (one of Stan Winston’s larger but lesser creatures -- until it catches on fire). The museum provides long corridors, huge rooms and deep bowels, but so much of the film is played dark -- literally lit by flashlight—that you’ll wish a nearby Museum of Technology would introduce electricity.

There’s far too little of that in the script, performances or effects, and the DNA speculation that supposedly fuels the plot feels right out of Beavis and Butt-head.

Contains gore, violence and bad language.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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