January is traditionally the time when the major Hollywood studios send their worst films into theaters to die. These are the weak and infirm celluloid misfits that execs haven't the nerve to release during the year-end Oscar-hunting season. Here's a movie rule to live by: If it's January, it's junk.
The Relic is the dud to prove it. It's a horror film without scares, substance or a single good performance. It took four writers to adapt the novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child about a monster from South American mythology that finds its way into Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and starts killing people. Penelope Anne Miller, continuing a run of bad-movie luck (Chaplin, Other People's Money), plays Margo, the evolutionary biologist who helps police lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore) solve the case. They flirt in between the grotesque murders, which aren't nearly as grotesque as wasting the talents of veterans Linda Hunt and James Whit-more in degrading supporting roles.
Don't get your hopes up about the monster, despite the fact that Kothoga, as it's called, feeds on human hormones that can be found only through decapitation. Oscar winner Stan Winston (Jurassic Park, Aliens) created the creature, and the damn thing still looks cheesy. Director Peter Hyams, fresh from two Jean-Claude Van Damme fizzles (Sudden Death and Time Cop), can't put any more life into Kothoga than he did the "Muscles from Brussels." Mark this one dead on arrival.