Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com/index.htm

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Thursday, 10 September 2020

REVIEWING 'THE DARK' (AKA 'THE RELIC' AKA 'THE GOD RAT')


Three different video/DVD covers for The Dark – the centre picture is on the cover of the DVD version that I own (© Craig Pryce/Lightshow Communications – reproduced here on a strictly non-commercial Fair Use basis for educational/review purposes only)

Readers of ShukerNature may not all know that in July 2020 I launched a new blog, Shuker In MovieLand (SIML), in which I review all manner of movies (and occasionally TV shows) that I've previously watched. They include a wide range of genres, from sci-fi, fantasy, super-heroes, and animation, to musicals, comedy, historical drama, crime fiction, and much more besides. Needless to say, however, as a cryptozoologist I have a particular preference for monster movies, and have already reviewed on SIML several films that contain a cryptozoology theme. Most of these are well known movies, but, intriguingly, the review of mine on SIML that currently boasts more hits than any other is of a very obscure, little-known monster movie, variously entitled The Dark, The Relic, and The God Rat.

As I feel sure that it will be of interest to ShukerNature readers too, I am reproducing my review of this movie here, and I earnestly suggest that you seek out the movie itself and watch it, because it makes very entertaining viewing. So, without further ado, here is my review of The Dark, whose original, shorter version I posted on my Facebook timeline on 30 November 2019.

Last night [29 November 2019] I watched a long-anticipated cryptozoology-themed movie, The Dark (aka The Relic aka The God Rat – see later), originally released in Italy in 1993. Directed by Craig Pryce, it stars Stephen McHattie as a leather-jacketed, motorbike-riding cryptozoologist (sounds familiar??) named Gary 'Hunter' Henderson. He is seeking a mysterious, scientifically-undescribed subterranean beast akin to a giant carnivorous rodent that excavates huge tunnels underneath a graveyard, feeds upon recently-interred corpses, and secretes a slimy substance that has miraculous, swift-acting healing properties. Filmed in Canada, this unusual movie also stars Neve Campbell, making her big-screen debut, as Hunter's girlfriend Jesse Donovan.

The monster is only seen in brief glimpses, and then only its toothy long-jawed head and long-clawed forepaws for the most part. The plot is fairly pedestrian - a good cryptozoologist seeking to study and preserve the creature for its taxonomic significance as an apparent prehistoric survivor and also for its slime's potentially immense medicinal benefits versus a bad vengeful ex-cop relentlessly seeking to slay it in revenge for its self-defence killing of his police partner when he was still on the force.

Stephen McHattie as Gary 'Hunter' Henderson in The Dark (© Craig Pryce/Lightshow Communications – reproduced here on a strictly non-commercial Fair Use basis for educational/review purposes only)

However, what has always intrigued me about this movie, which had particularly spurred me on for so long to seek it out on DVD (no easy matter!) and view it, was that its cryptid subject is more than a little reminiscent of a bona fide mystery beast. Reported from Scotland, this latter cryptid is known as the earth hound, and is indeed said to frequent graveyards and devour buried corpses. My book Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999) was the first crypto-book to investigate and document the earth hound, but if you click here you can access a ShukerNature blog article of mine concerning this fascinating mystery beast.

The DVD of The Dark that I own actually has a German-language cover (see centre picture in the trio of photographs opening this present blog post), on which this movie is entitled The Relic (in English) and The God Rat (in German), but the movie that plays on the DVD disc itself is the original English version and is entitled in its opening credits as The Dark.

Incidentally, this present movie should not be confused – but often is – with another cryptozoology-themed film also entitled The Relic. Directed by Peter Hyams and originally released in 1997, its very different plot concerns a monstrous entity inadvertently transported back to the USA from South America, which duly runs amok in Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. I have this movie on DVD too, but haven't watched it yet – be sure that once I do, however, I shall be duly reviewing on Shuker In MovieLand!

Last, but by no means least, The Dark is currently available (as of today, 10 September 2020, anyway) to watch in its entirety free of charge on YouTube (click here to do so). Consequently, if you're a fan of monster movies with a cryptozoology theme like I am, I strongly recommend that you make the most of this golden opportunity to watch this otherwise difficult-to-find movie while you can, in case it is subsequently deleted from YT.

Reconstruction of the likely appearance in life of the mysterious earth hound as based upon alleged eyewitness descriptions (© William M. Rebsamen)





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