HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Flamingo Kid, The
Queen, The
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Hellboy
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
   
 
Newest Articles
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
   
 
  Runestone, The Norse CodeBuy this film here.
Year: 1991
Director: Willard Carroll
Stars: Peter Riegert, Joan Severance, William Hickey, Tim Ryan, Mitchell Laurance, Lawrence Tierney, Dawan Scott, Chris Young, Alexander Godunov, Donald Hotton, Erika Schickel, Bill Kalmenson, Arthur Malet, John Hobson, Anthony Cistaro
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Deep in a coal mine in Pennsylvania, archaeologist Martin Almquist (Mitchell Laurance) unearths a mysterious stone with mystic runes inscribed by Norse explorers believed to have first discovered America. Invited to examine the runes, Martin's friend and unrequited love Marla (Joan Severance) and her archaeologist husband Sam (Tim Ryan) are thrust into a nightmare when the stone somehow transforms Martin into a murderous hairy beast. While the seemingly unstoppable monster pursues Marla, wreaking death and destruction around New York, teenager Jacob (Chris Young) is plagued with apocalyptic nightmares. His grandfather (William Hickey) insists these dreams are connected to an ancient prophecy linked in turn to a mysterious Clockmaker (Alexander Godunov), a reincarnation of the Norse god Tyr, who may be the one person able to destroy the beast known as Fenrir.

An unsung gem of Nineties horror, The Runestone presents a rare authentic treatment of Norse mythology rather than the Marvel Comics interpretation more prevalent now in the wake of Thor (2011). Based on a novel by Mark E. Rogers the film refashions the apocalyptic story of Ragnarok into a fun throwback monster movie rife with a slyly satirical sense of humour. Viewers would not normally expect to find a darkly comic send-up of New York's pretentious conceptual art scene sandwiched between bloody monster murders and clever allusions to the Norse cycle of death and rebirth, but against the odds writer-director Willard Carroll pulls it off. Carroll first made his mark as the screenwriter and producer of fondly remembered Eighties animation The Brave Little Toaster (1987). Following that film's success he established Hyperion Pictures, an independent studio that produced sequels and other offbeat animated films including Rover Dangerfield (1991), Bebe's Kids (1992) and The Adventures of Tom Thumb & Thumbelina (2002), the latter of which he also wrote. Carroll's live-action output is decidedly eclectic. He followed The Runestone with Playing By Heart (1998), an ensemble romantic drama featuring Sean Connery and Angelina Jolie, children's book adaptation Tom's Midnight Garden (1999) and the Bollywood pastiche Marigold (2007).

Whilst Carroll's handling of individual suspense sequences is prosaic for the most part, he nonetheless crafts an intriguing and unorthodox narrative wherein multiple protagonists assemble pieces of a vast mystical puzzle. Top-billed Peter Riegert, of Local Hero (1983) fame, does not enter the film until the half hour mark but proves an engaging presence as the foul-mouthed, Pez candy-addicted cop who grows from skeptic to stalwart ally. Riegert's earthy cop forms part of a heroic triumvirate alongside Chris Young as the reluctant youngster and a broodingly charismatic Alexander Godunov (the former ballet dancer turned iconic villain in Die Hard (1988)) more compelling than Tim Ryan's smug show-off archaeologist who is less sympathetic than he should be.

The plot physicalizes the fear of stagnation and death inherent in heroine Marla, well-portrayed by underrated British actress Joan Severance. Marla's longing for change somehow spurs the beast Fenrir to serve as her unintentional agent of destruction that in turn entraps the other mortal players in an unfathomable cycle of death and rebirth. In its more potent moments The Runestone conveys a sense of cosmic dread vaguely similar to that found in the Italian zombie films of Lucio Fulci, minus the misogyny and gut-munching excess. Cinematographer Misha Suslov and editor Lynn Southerland contribute greatly to the interestingly fragmented and otherworldly atmosphere of the film, interweaving subtle symbolism with rubber monster mayhem. Anime fans may be surprised to discover the conceptual artist behind the designs for the bestial Fenrir was none other than legendary artist Gô Nagai, creator of Devilman among many others. Viewers will likely find the creature suit itself either hokey or effective depending on personal taste. Carroll wisely swathes Fenrir in shadows even when it is on screen, building an aura of menace. Despite an offbeat story-structure the film flows well with engagingly articulate characters, snappy dialogue and some very memorable moments (e.g. Fenrir ripping its way through a crowd of yuppies at a poncy conceptual art show; the cop impaled on a stake who performs a poignant sign of the cross as he lies dying; film noir veteran Lawrence Tierney as the police chief who maintains the culprit is "a maniac in a bulletproof dog suit"; the Clockmaker's aptly balletic showdown with the monster in another dimension). The finale deftly draws together all the threads subtly lain throughout the narrative in a manner both satisfyingly conclusive yet teasingly ambiguous. It also benefits from a fine score by David Newman supposedly inspired by Henry Mancini's soundtracks for classic Fifties monster movies Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Tarantula (1955).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 499 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: