It's always a pleasure to watch creature features in which the monsters in question are far removed from the usual cinematic stereotypes (e.g. ferocious man-beasts, werewolves, sea monsters, gargantuan insects, prehistoric survivors), and the three examples appearing in the trio of monster movies reviewed by me here, courtesy originally of ShukerNature's sister blog, Shuker In MovieLand, are definitely out of the ordinary, that's for sure! They display a vermiform similarity, but their respective origins could not be more dissimilar – cast down to Earth from the scorching surface of the sun, rudely awoken from deep subterranean desert dreaming, and resurrected from a very lengthy petrified past.
My movie watch on 25 August 2022 was a highly original sci fi/monster movie entitled Fire Serpent.
Directed by John Terlesky, created by celebrated Star Trek actor William Shatner, and originally screened in 2007 by the Sci-Fi Channel, Fire Serpent has as its central concept the notion that every so often throughout history, one of these eponymous fire-embodied serpentine entities is shot forth via solar flares from the sun's scorching surface down to Earth, where it commits all manner of mayhem, inducing large-scale blazes, forest fires, etc in its search for fuel to revitalise it.
In so doing, this ophidian flame-spreader will even take over humans in its bid to destroy anyone who stands in its path before incinerating them internally yet without leaving a mark on them externally. Needless to say, spontaneous human combustion instantly comes to mind here, but sadly – and strangely – this extraordinary yet still-unexplained fiery phenomenon is neither mentioned by name nor incorporated in any way within the movie.
The existence of fire serpents is known to the US government but is kept a closely-guarded secret until maverick firefighter Dutch Fallon (played by Randolph Mantooth), whose girlfriend was killed by one of these flying furnaces, decides to devise a means of destroying them. This does not go down well with one mysterious government agent in particular, however, a religious fanatic and covert arsonist named Cooke (Robert Beltran) who believes that they are fiery angels sent by God to cleanse the world by fire in order to renew it.
Can Dutch and a couple of semi-believing associates put a stop both to the fire serpents and to the fire-preaching maniac Cooke who seeks to harness them in his mad bid for catastrophic global conflagration?
The CGI fire serpents are well executed, and, as I say, this movie's theme is unusual enough to keep even a hardened seen-it-all creature feature fan like me interested and entertained.
If you'd care to gaze from the flame-retardant safety of your sofa at the coruscating creatures featured in this incandescent movie, be sure to click here to watch an official Fire Serpent trailer on YouTube that won't leave you feeling hot under the collar!
On 29 June 2022, my movie watch was the crypto-themed Canadian film Sand Serpents.
Directed by Jeff Renfroe, and released on the Syfy Channel in 2009, Sand Serpents is definitely one of the better entries in the long-running made-for-TV 'Maneater' series of sci fi/horror creature features produced by RHI Entertainment for Syfy and released from 2007 onwards.
Think Tremors, but set in Afghanistan (although filmed in Romania), Sand Serpents centres upon a small US special forces military squad led by Lieutenant Richard Stanley (played by Jason Gedrick) and seeking to elude the Taliban, but also facing an even deadlier and far more unexpected foe – 60-ft-long predatory worms disturbed from their subterranean realm by a massive explosion and now hunting down and devouring or destroying anything that betrays its presence to them via loud sounds or other vibrations. Not even helicopters flying overhead are safe from these voracious vermiforms that rear up into the sky and swallow the whirlybirds in a single gulp. Gulp!
The squad's only hope is to make its way through a series of underground tunnels to a location where yet another helicopter will attempt to rescue them, but the worms seem intent upon picking them off, one by one... Make sure that you watch this movie right to the very end, because the closing scene contains a very dramatic and unexpected albeit somewhat unnecessary twist.
For a low-budget movie, its CGI mega-worms are excellent, with Sand Serpents a worthy homage to the Tremors franchise, and an equally worthy addition to my crypto-cinema collection.
Moreover, if what I've read in various reviews of it elsewhere is true, this movie's portrayal of the US military in action in Afghanistan is a decent, relatively accurate representation (though apparently there are various authenticity issues concerning the soldiers' outfits and insignia – as someone not well-informed on military matters, however, I couldn't say).
For a spectacular taster of what to expect down deep in the desert where the giant sand serpents dwell, be sure to click here to view a trailer of sand serpent excerpts from this movie on YouTube.
BASILISK: THE SERPENT KING
Viewed on the UK's Horror [now renamed Legend] TV Channel, my movie watch for 18 June 2022 was the creature feature Basilisk: The Serpent King.
Directed by Stephen Furst, filmed in Bulgaria, and released in 2006 on the Sci Fi Channel, Basilisk: The Serpent King opens with a modern-day discovery in the Middle East of what appear on first sight to be a series of stone statues of soldiers dating back two millennia. These are brought back to the States by the archaeological team that has discovered them, led by Dr Harrison 'Harry' McColl (played by Jeremy London), together with their most extraordinary find there – namely, what again seems to be a stone statue, but this time of an enormous serpentine dragon, plus a very ornate serpent-ornamented sceptre containing a beautiful precious stone.
However, it's not long before the terrifying truth emerges – these 'statues' are actually petrified humans. Moreover, when the giant serpentine dragon 'statue' is put on display in the Colorado university museum sponsoring Harry's archaeological dig, and sensationally comes to life during a major reception there for the museum's wealthy patrons via an unexpected photo-reaction involving the sceptre and a solar eclipse, it turns out to be a basilisk, which spits forth a deadly white liquid that when activated by its incandescent gaze promptly turns to stone a fair few of its awe-struck audience. Not only that, it's pregnant! (Not so much a Serpent King as a Serpent Queen, therefore, or are there aspects of basilisk reproduction that I have yet to learn about??)
Anyway, much mayhem results, especially when the basilisk lays waste to a multi-story indoor shopping centre (whose property & contents insurance is unlikely to cover wholesale destruction caused by a mythical mega-monster!), and the U.S. army is brought into play in a desperate bid to nullify this Medusa-mouthed Middle Eastern mall-wrecker.
Meanwhile, Harry and friends (one of whom, Carlton, is played by director Furst) no less desperately attempt to regain possession of the sceptre that has been stolen by a wily and wealthy albeit decidedly wacky villainess named Hannah (Yancy Butler). She plans to use it to uncover a priceless cache of treasure, uncaring that it also happens to be the only object in existence that can counter the basilisk.
Notwithstanding its ostensibly incongruous, spindly little legs (even though some traditional basilisk depictions do indeed supply it with limbs), the CGI basilisk is very acceptable, and whereas there is an emphasis upon wisecracks and goofy characters, this monster movie still boasts its fair share of thrills along the way too. Basilisk: The Serpent King was a film hitherto unknown to me but one that I certainly enjoyed, and also recorded in order to add it to the crypto-themed section of my movie collection, as I have so far been unable to locate it on DVD.
Incidentally, for the benefit of zoomythology zealots, I must point out two intrinsic discrepancies between this movie's basilisk and traditional ones. Firstly: although the basilisk is indeed referred to in classical legends as the king of the serpents, it is usually represented as being quite small, certainly nothing remotely as sizeable as this film's gargantuan representative. Secondly: and according once again to legends, should a basilisk direct its gaze or its venom upon anyone (or any other living thing), the latter is instantly killed, not turned to stone – that more specialised slaying ability is instead reserved for the trio of gorgons in Greek mythology.
Nevertheless, here and here, to petrify you, but, happily, not in a gorgonesque manner, are a couple of Basilisk: The Serpent King clips on YouTube.
I get strong Dune vibes from the Sand Serpents image and description. :) Dune isn't my favourite franchise for some of its human elements, but I've nothing against its sand worms... other than that I REALLY wouldn't want to stand in the path of one! :D At one point, an army rode to battle on the the backs of sand worms.ReplyDelete