HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Runestone, The Norse Code
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, AdventureBuy from Amazon
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 1233 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: