TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: MIMIC (1997)

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MIMIC (1997)

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The story tells of a deadly disease devastating New York City’s children and carried by it’s cockroaches. Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) creates The Judas Breed, a new insect, genetically bred to destroy the infected cockroaches, then die-off themselves. The Judas Breed have other ideas and are not only thriving, but are soon growing, evolving and nesting in the city sewers. They are also now preying on humans. Susan, along with her husband, Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam), who is Deputy Director of the CDC, and reluctant subway cop, Officer Leonard Norton (Charles S. Dutton), find themselves in the fight of their lives, and the lives of everyone in the city, as they enter the catacombs of NYC’s massive subway system to find and destroy the The Judas Breed.

Film is directed by Guillermo del Toro from his script with Matthew Robbins, from the book of the same name by Donald A. Wollheim. It’s a solid, modern day sci-fi/horror, that is not without a nod to the giant bug movies of the 50s. It’s got a good story, a top notch cast, some good gore, excellent creature FX and there is enough carnage and action to satisfy the average monster/giant bug movie fan. The attack scenes are intense and suspenseful and Del Toro gives his creatures a nice air of mystery, till he’s ready to reveal them. When he does, they are menacing, vicious and have a character about them. He creates a lot of mystery and atmosphere and his visual style is gorgeous as usual. His visual eye makes good use of the underground subway system setting. The cinematography by Dan Laustsen is both colorful and filled with atmospheric shadows and the score by Marco Beltrami is very effective.

As said, there is a good cast here. Sorvino is a strong heroine as Susan. She has a hard time convincing the authorities of what she’s discovered and goes to investigate herself with only Peter on her side. Jeremy Northam is solid as Peter. He’s more concerned with having a baby than investigating Susan’s claims, at first, but comes to believe Susan is on to something. Charles S. Dutton is also really good as Officer Norton, a tough guy who is reluctantly dragged along on the giant bug hunt. The film also has a good supporting cast with Giancarlo Giannini as a shoe shiner whose autistic son (Alexander Goodwin) has an interest in the creatures, Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham, and, in a small role, Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, as a department of sanitation employee who finds something very interesting in the garbage.

I’ve always liked monster movies and am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro, so it’s no surprise I champion his giant bug movie set in the sewers of NYC. I really do believe this is a good and very underrated monster movie that doesn’t get enough love. A director’s cut is now available on blu-ray, as Del Toro was unhappy with studio tinkering on the original release. It expands the story of Sorvino’s Entomologist and her husband, Peter as they try to have a baby, basically adding a bit more of a human element to already likable characters. Those looking for more creature stuff in the director’s cut will be sadly disappointed. A really good monster flick that doesn’t get the respect it deserves and was sadly a box office disappointment upon release in 1997.

-MonsterZero NJ

 Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Judas Breed Bugs!
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REVIEW: BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001)

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BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001)

The story takes place in 18th century France in the rural provence of Gévaudan. There seems to be some sort of creature on the loose that is killing the locals and spreading fear across the land. Royal naturalist and soldier Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) has been sent along with his Native American companion Mani (Mark Dacascos) to investigate. Soon Fronsac finds himself surrounded by intrigue, conspiracy, murder, betrayal and a pair of beautiful women (Émilie Dequenne and Monica Bellucci) who could be the death of him. All this leading up to the inevitable confrontation with the “Beast of Gévaudan”.

Wildly entertaining French film is directed by Christophe Gans from an imaginative script by he and Stéphane Cabel, that is inspired by real events. It’s an enchanting dark fairy tale that blends almost every type of genre from horror to drama to fantasy to mystery to action. There are stunning visuals, sumptuous costumes and amazing scenery and sets, as Gans weaves a tale of monsters both human and otherwise. There is blood, gore, sex, breathtaking martial arts and intense intrigue, not to mention some old fashioned romance as Fronsac falls for both the feisty nobleman’s daughter Marianne de Morangias (Dequenne) and the mysterious and possibly deadly Sylvia (Bellucci). Gans presents a noble hero to root for in Fronsac, some dastardly villains, such as Marianne’s brother Jean-François (Vincent Cassel) and possibly a monster, too. The action is incredibly fast and furious, the creature sequences as intense as any horror and the romance can be both charming and sizzling depending on the content of the scene. It’s the type of entertainment they don’t make any more, a film with both an involving story and something for everyone…the only thing missing is a musical number. The cinematography, by frequent Guillermo Del Toro cinematographer, Dan Laustsen is absolutely stunning and there is a wonderfully atmospheric score by Joseph LoDuca (the original Evil Dead).

The cast is large yet all bring something to their roles from nobles to clergy to savage gypsies and brothel beauties. Le Bihan is close to perfect as the noble and heroic Fronsac. He’s a handsome and charming rogue who is also very intelligent and when needs must, a complete badass. Would love to have seen him return in another tale. Émilie Dequenne is beautiful and enchanting as the spirited Marianne. Not hard to see why Fronsac falls easily for her. Mark Dacascos creates a strong character an the Iroquois warrior/mystic Mani. He’s a bit of a mystery, soft spoken, but highly skilled in martial arts and has some great fight scenes, as well as, stealing a few scenes. The great Vincent Cassel is a very strong villain as the deranged and dangerous Jean-François. He’s a man who’s allowed inner turmoil to make him twisted and cruel. Monica Bellucci oozes sex appeal and danger as the mysterious and sexy Sylvia. Who is she really? You’ll have to watch the film to find out! There are many supporting players and characters and they all perform well.

This flick is a personal favorite and almost twenty years after first seeing it, it still entertains. The blend of action, mystery, horror and romance is spectacular, as is the sumptuous design of the sets and costumes. The cast are all close to perfect and the characters they play are endearing, charming and detestable depending on whether they be villain or hero. It’s a dazzling popcorn movie directed with loads of heart and given enough depth and intrigue in the screenplay to give it some nice substance as well. An enchanting and dark fairy tale for adults.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 (out of 4) Muskets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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