My God, I've just seen the first 20 minutes
of this and I have never seen a film with so much exposition! Aside
from the first pre-credit bit, every character shows up, and starts
speechifyin'. Then we get a helicopter full of people, who are all
speechifyin', and the Texas guy (with a cowboy hat, of course) gets
some dobro playing under his talk. And then there's more speechifyin!
Well, to start at the beginning, what we
have here is an Antarctic research station, drilling down below the
ice layer, for some reason never quite explained. We get three
bickering blue collar types in the very lowest depths of the place
(which is huge, despite the stock footage from The Thing). Two of
them leave, the third pulls a John Hurt over this big pool of
swirling water. Exit him.
As a digression, has anyone ever seen
John Hurt leaning over the open egg in Alien, and thought “Yeah,
that's just what I'd do”? But when we see someone else do it,
in another movie, we think, “Hey, that's just like John Hurt in
Alien!” So a film cliché begets its own children and,
like running into the scary basement, movie lore is born.
Anyway, then we get the credits, and two
Germans (star Goetz Otto and his female boss) walk through the
facility talking about...stuff. He wants to go home, she talks
elliptically about...stuff. For all the speechifyin' in this movie,
not a lot gets, you know, said. Then we cut to a helicopter where
some college students, who are going to be interning at this place,
choose a noisy helicopter cabin to introduce themselves and make
small talk. (This is what I started this review with, obviously.)
Aside from the Texan and the token black guy, they're not very
differentiated. There's also the Guy-in-Charge (who is bringing the
students out, they're to work under his direction) and the pilot, who
is the best actor yet and complains about having to fly through this
storm. Guy-in-charge says there's a worse storm on the way. Uh oh, I
know where this is heading!
So they land, and Goetz opens the
door. Swirling snow comes in, and I can't help but think of W.C.
Fields: “And it ain't a fit night out, for man nor beast!”
Goetz shows the teens around. Token black guy is the computer whiz,
it seems. One gal asks what happens if the backups go out, and Goetz
basically says that would be bad. Oh, I really know where this
Guy-in-Charge and German female have a very
strange conversation which seems to say that they're Up To Something
Bad, and how bad it would be if anyone found out. Also, they're going
to remote detonate the whole facility! There's some talk about how
it's too bad for those college kids. Yeah, I'll bet! I suppose this
will make sense...in time. Oh, and in case we missed it, German
female was making some notes into a tape recorder, which she left on
when Guy-in-Charge showed up. This will turn up later, I imagine!
Hitchcock did this kind of thing a lot, you know. Only he was kind of
good at it. Anyway, German female complains how tired she is
(everyone, it seems, has been awake for hours and hours).
Nonetheless, she gets some coffee and smokes a cigarette, which are I
think not really designed to let you rest. She then goes off to have
a bath (after gazing wistfully at a large specimen container
Guy-in-Charge brought) and, boom, she's killed by (presumably) an Ice
Crawler. A freeze frame indicates something vaguely bug-like but
large. Oh and though she undresses for her bath, there's no nudity.
We continue with the Goetz tour. He points
out the “ex-eh-CUTE-ive” offices, and where they keep the
firearms. Because you never know when you're going to meet hostile
Antarctic life, right?
Oh, and the base is not fully operational.
The cliché meter just beeped
Cut to Guy-in-Charge, he's working on a
laptop and the music just got ominous.
More on the students,
there's more banter and we see who's romantically involved. I suppose
I should tell you who they are. Well, we have Blonde Gal and
non-descript guy, they are definitely an Item, Arianna (brunette,
serious, studious but still hot) is more involved with her studies.
Texan has dobro music when he talks. Token Black Guy is a computer
geek. There you go. So, Arianna points out that they are probably
here to disprove that the company's experimental drilling
techniques won't disrupt the plate tectonics of the region.
Hey, you can't prove a negative!
I thought I wasn't going to have to mention
the red-neck drilling crew, but they almost start a fight with the
students until they find out Tom (non-descript guy) is a football
star. Also, when Texan takes his hat off he's pretty damned
non-descript too. I think he and Arianna are gonna bond, cos they
have all that I-hate-you vibe going on.
Cut to helicopter pilot, who is covering up the
chopper when he hears monster noises, and a POV attacks him. Too bad,
he was a good actor.
Guy-In-Charge meets with the students, and
Texan asks why they were brought here, instead of an experienced
drilling team. Guy-In-Charge says we're a “fact-finding”
team, and another one will be brought out by the UN in six weeks, for
a double test of what's going on. Arianna asks, because the project
is disrupting the antarctic shelf? Guy-In-Charge says well, maybe,
but GeoTech doesn't trust the UN and vice-versa. Three weeks ago,
problems started happening when they went deeper than ever before.
The UN perked up. This team is supposed to prove everything is great
and spiffy and there are no problems, have a nice day, see ya. Goetz
(who's in the meeting) sees German female's tape recorder and
The rednecks take Texan down to the moon
pool (where John Hurt Guy was killed at the start of the film), and
they're still looking for John Hurt Guy. Ooh, they found his body in
the pool and pulled him out! Football Guy was going to just grab him,
but they said the whole pool is incredibly cold, he (Texan) could get
killed by the cold. So what liquid is that, liquid oxygen or
something? Anyway, the cuts in the body are probably from “jagged
ice.” Arianna is going to do the autopsy. There's a mysterious
blue substance around the wounds, and not enough blood, blah blah
blah. Guy-In-Charge pooh-poohs everything, and let me point out here
that he's a really bad actor. He says we have to achieve our goals.
Blah blah blah. They will seal off the moon pool, though. They all
leave except Arianna, who starts poking in wounds, and then...um,
Well, Goetz is listening to German Female's
tape recorder. He seems pretty upset, but I'm still not much
enlightened. He takes a lot of pills, which is apparently one of his
problems. Token Black Guy shows up, and he and Goetz banter a bit. No
one really says anything—I mean, it's all elliptical,
huh-whatever dialogue, but Goetz says “GenTech has more
conspiracies than a goddamn Oliver Stone movie, and you guys just
stepped right into it!” which is a pretty great line. Still,
nothing is said, but Token Black Guy gets the idea that Goetz is,
like, kinda mental.
“If we seal off the moon pool, and
one of the generators goes, we're in trouble. And we should take the
ton of explosives out of here, too.” But the rednecks are
talking about “My shift is over,” and lead redneck says
“I left my chaw back there.” Gee, is the cliché
meter out of batteries? It keeps beeping!
Anyway, we see an Ice Crawler out of focus,
it seems to be about the size of a large dog. And it gets lead
redneck. When the Ice Crawlers attack, there's a lot of frame-frame
editing, with stills of this and that and an Ice Crawler and such.
It's like one of those “life flashing in front of your eyes
before you die” things you hear about, but in this case it's
not your life, it's only the last ten minutes or so.
Texan shows up at Arianna's lab. She says
the blue stuff is definitely biological. And she's all worried about
the ecosystem being screwed over by GenTech and their drilling and
what not. Blah blah about killing species versus gas prices. Blah
Guy-In-Charge finally goes to check on
German Female. And he finds her under the bed, all killed and stuff.
He tries to indicate he's upset, but I'm sure he won't be saying
anything to anyone, you know, let's not endanger The Project. Stuff
like this is what made Lost Voyage so refreshing. Back to the
rednecks, the hairy Sonny Bono guy is taking a shower, there are
monster noises, and he gets killed. That's a switch—usually
it's the hot chicks who do this, not hairy Sonny Bono types. I guess
I should credit the film with an innovation, but it's kind of a
reverse-expectation cliché so I'm not sure what the point is.
Goetz goes to moon pool to look for rednecks, and finds the
explosives and remote detonator. He puts two and two together and
realises they've got more problems.
Okay, let's pause a moment. German Female
and Guy-In-Charge clearly knew there was something going on. They
wired the place to explode. So, why not rig some kind of toxic
accident necessitating an evacuation, then blow the place up? Why
bring in a bunch of college kids to...to...well, I'm still not sure
what they're supposed to do. It makes no sense...well, I'm sure the
ultimately revealed motivation behind it all will clear all these
clouds away, but in the meantime, I'm watching this and I don't know
why this is happening. It seems pretty straightforward what you gotta
On the other hand, a toxic accident or something would
probably show those namby-pamby UN types that they were right all
along, and GenTech was doing bad things. But I bet someone could
still have thought up a better plan. What are they going to say when
the place blows up? Rednecks and their chaws started a fire?
course, now Goetz knows something's up, and he won't say anything to
stop it. You know, there's a disturbing trend in these kinds of
movies, that of the Decent Guy who knows Something Bad Is Up and yet,
he can only communicate in Angular Metaphors rather than straight
information. Is Goetz some kind of logic professor, trying to get
these kids to pass their finals?
You know, I promise you, if there
was a monster in your house, I'd say, “There's a monster in
your house. Call the cops, and don't go in.” I wouldn't say
something like...like...”Today's knowledge is so feeble! It
will seem like ignorance to people tomorrow! [grabs you] You don't
want to seem ignorant to tomorrow, do you!” I mean, if I said
that, I'd feel pretty bad if the monster got you.
Anyway, back to this, Goetz sees dead
chaw-guy, and an Ice Crawler chases him, but he gets in the elevator
and closes the door. And cut to Arianna and Texan looking at DNA
pictures. And she's able to match the blue stuff to a trilobite. It's
weird having her spout stuff, and we cut to Texan, we hear that dobro
again. Still, Love is in the air and all. And we haven't seen
Football Guy and Blonde Chick in a while. I bet they start making
out, and the Ice Crawlers get them! I'll be pretty embarrassed (for
the film-makers) if that turns out to be true.
says that a trilobite is a cross between a worm and a mosquito. And
if I were a trilobite, I'd find that, at best, a bit facile. Though
I'm sure they're not calling their lawyers, yet. Aren't they
arthropods, like horseshoe crabs? I always thought they looked cool
in all those Time-Life books. Anyway, Arianna says there's no way
they could have survived in all this ice. Meaning her scientific
conjecture was all hooey? Okay, what does she really mean?
She does mention that if a trylobyte did
kill John Hurt Guy, it would have to have been the size of a dog—so
points for me! Then she says it has to have been a “pre-millipede”
or something similar to a trilobite but NOT a trilobite. Geez, you
science chicks and your excuses!
There's some more blather here about
GeoTech versus Mother Nature, and how this is nature fighting back,
yada yada yada, you've heard it all before so I'm just putting it
here so you won't be surprised if you rent this thing. “Hey,
there was blather in that, and no one told me!” Well, you're
about to be supplanted by a new ecosystem anyway, so stop
complaining. (I'd put up a “Trilobites Rule!” poster if I
were you, it may impress your new masters.) If there were new
insights, I'd put them here for you. But there aren't. So. Back to
Now, Goetz finds the dead German Female.
And Football Guy and Blonde Gal are getting' it on. Oh man, the techo
music they're making out to just got all shuddery, and yeah, there's
an Ice Crawler under the bed. No nudity, still. I mean, he pulls her
shirt off, but it's all shot the wrong way.
Goetz gets a gun and makes it to main
control, where Guy-In-Charge and Token Black Guy are trying to
contact someone outside. Goetz tells Token Black Guy to split so he
can talk to Guy-In-Charge. We're at the 57 minute mark so I can't
imagine that this is going to go anywhere good. We still have around
30 minutes to go. So, fantasizing, I bet Goetz is overpowered by
Token Black Guy. Or something, anything to keep him saying, “There
are dangerous monsters around!” But he can probably say, “You
don't know what you're doing! You don't know the danger we're all
in!” and similarly unhelpful generalities before he gets
injected with knock-out drops.
Sorry, I'm back from fantasizing. Goetz
indicates he knows what's going on, and shoots out the radio.
Actually, it's a oscilloscope, but what the hell? Why'd he do that?
So Guy-In-Charge couldn't get away or something? But then neither can
anyone else! Goetz, you idiot!
Token Black Guy warns the last remaining
redneck about Goetz, and he warns Arianna and Texan as well. So they
all show up, so there's some talk about how Guy-In-Charge is really
evil, and Goetz is all on depressants, and stuff, and whatever and
stuff, and stuff. But Goetz shoots Guy-In-Charge! Before anyone knows
anything, of course, so all his talk of “Monsters!...Monsters
from the Id!” will be seen as the ravings of a madman. No one
plans anything in advance these days, perhaps that's a lesson for us
all, especially you teenagers, with your weird fashions and your
So, they lock up Goetz in the weapons room.
Oh...good idea! And they're gonna look for the chopper, and damn,
that dobro is annoying. We GOT the idea, he's from Texas, OK? Yeah,
he lost the hat a while ago, doesn't mean anything. Really. Texan
finds the helicopter guy's glasses. And the Ice Crawlers chewed
through the power cords! Oh, great! So they're on backup now. Which
you may remember, was a bad thing to be on. Backup. Shudder!
Let's recap. We have Football Guy and
Blonde Girl getting' it on while an Ice Crawler is under the bed. We
have Texan and Arianna still up with the hatin'-each-other bit. And
we have Token Black Guy and Last Remaining Redneck. You can fill out
your Survivors cards now, but the good news is, it's an open book
test! So when the unexpected occurs (qv, Deep Blue Sea) you can alter
your responses, based on the cliché Meter! Everyone gets an
“A.” Except the film-makers.
Oh, damn I forgot Goetz,
who frees himself from the locked room.
And we cut to Football Guy and Blonde Girl,
in post-coital glow, and Football Guy starts complaining about the
lights while Blonde Gal does nothing. Who here wants to bet that
Blonde Gal is already dead, and when he finds out, Football Guy is
next to go? Honestly I have not seen this movie before.
Well, there we go. Sigh. There are times
when I hate being right. It's such a burden! For the record, Football
Guy turns over Blonde Gal, and she's all eaten up by a...well, is
this a trilobite or not? I guess I should just call it an Ice
Back to our other survivors. “There's
an emergency stairwell all the way on the other side!” says
last remaining redneck. No, nobody here has seen Deep Blue Sea or
Well, they're going to split up into teams of Texan
and Arianna, and Token Black Guy and Last Remaining Redneck. Anyone
see where this is going? Yeah, I thought so. Wouldn't it be one for
the record books if it was reversed? And if the characters were
asked, what kind of tree would they say they are most like? Okay, bad
70's reference, but hell, I need entertainment and I ain't getting'
it. Why should I suffer alone? Hello?
Texan and Arianna are wandering through,
looking for folks and they find a trilobite in a tank. It kinda looks
dead, but who knows.
Goetz shows up with a gun, and says “You
found the killer thing!” He and Arianna have an argument—seems
GenTech found this, and has gone from being oil finders to living
fossil finders. Uh. Okay, that could be likely...in a world far
different from our own. But what the hey, it gives Goetz and Arianna
a chance to argue moral viewpoints.
Anyway, Goetz says there's
another specimen of trilobite, alive and “eating its way
through this complex.” Arianna argues with this...uh...um.
Okay. I guess she thinks Goetz is a psycho who killed everyone. (Not
a totally left-field assumption, by the way, given the way he acts
toward everyone, but then, we have seen the Ice Crawlers.)
Goetz says GenTech is trying to hide their
“IL-e-gal” activities by smuggling the trilobites to the
mainland. Excuse me, what the hell? Wha--? There's a big market in
Anyway, there's more talk, Arianna is all
environmental, Goetz is all “the cover story will be that you
kids blew it up” and me...I'm just typing at this point.
“Point”? Who said “point”? Oh sorry, it was
me. Anyway, the three of them decide to get out of the place, which
is cool with em all, and we cut to Token Black Guy and Last Remaining
Redneck. Last Remaining Redneck tells Token Black Guy to “wait
right here” and suddenly half-naked Football Guy shows up and
scares Token Black Guy. Yeah, I thought he was dead too, but I guess
he has another scare left in him.
Last Remaining Redneck is looking for Sonny
Bono redneck, and finds him in the shower, and he turns the body over
and sees the trilobite, and hears scary noises, and we get the
frame-frame stuff again, and...we're out of rednecks. Back to Token
Black Guy and Football Guy in the hall. Football Guy looks kind of
calm, like he's about to, oh, I don't know, have trilobite larvae
explode out of him and stuff. I mean, he just has that look, you
know? Yeah, you know. You know?
But instead of that, Last
Remaining Redneck comes out of the room with giant trilobite neck
accessory! And giant trilobite looks at Token Black Guy, I mean
really gives him the LOOK, you know, and Token Black Guy just exits
out of there, pronto! Or at least he would have, if elevators worked
right. You know, you sit there waiting for one, and it takes forever
to get there, and then you get on, and a giant trilobite is after
you, and you push the “Close Door” button over and over,
but that button is just for impatient yuppies, honestly. It doesn't
do anything. Especially when you're the Token Black Guy and you have
a giant trilobite after you. Sorry, man, talk to LL Cool J's agent.
Oh, and if you're interested, Token Black Guy gets the same
frame-frame sequence. Like I said earlier, it's like those cliché
“the last hour or so of your life is passing in front of you
before you die!” except the giant trilobite gets some POVs too.
That just has to suck. You gotta share your death with an Ice
Back to Goetz, Texan and Arianna. They've
made it down to the Moon Pool room. And the following conversation
takes place. “How do we get out?” Goetz: “Take the
snowcats to a Russian base nearby.” “But you said the
snowcats were all out of commission!” Goetz: “Listen, I
made a stupid joke, okay?”
Wow. I may have paraphrased but
that's the gist of it, honestly. I mean, it honestly takes the
breath away. A stupid joke? Deflating the genre cliches
is a great idea, but not when you replace them with something
Anyway, trilobite and Token Black Guy get
off the elevator, trilobite chases after them, gets on Texan, Goetz
goes to rescue him, Arianna blows it away with the shotgun....and the
biggest damn trilobite you ever saw, anywhere, honestly, shows up in
the moon pool! It's the size of a truck! Wow! It's not a very
convincing miniature/set combo, but it is kind of cool. And Goetz
found the remote for the detonation, right? So he tells Texan and
Arianna to leg it, and he sacrifices himself. And we get some stock
footage of the burning camp from The Thing (bet there's no special
thanks to John Carpenter or Dean Cundey, eh?). As I thought they
would, Texan and Arianna embrace and remark about their disparate
backgrounds...and a giant tentacle rises over the destruction! Oh
wow, Ice Crawlers II! You may think I'm damn cynical, but all these
direct to video people think alike. Yeah, right, Ice Crawlers II.
Sure. You got nine dollars out of me, and that's it. Unless I read
some good reviews. Darn you anyway, Jabootu!
I just darned Jabootu because, while he is
generally very astute about these things, he gave a (qualified)
to this thing,
so when I saw it for sale, I grabbed it. After I watched it, I
re-read his review,
and he says it was good only in comparison with some other stuff he'd
seen recently. Which makes me think, gosh, whatever that
was it must have really, really sucked. Big Time? ALL time. Normally
Jabootu is quite reliable, but I guess he can't love all his children
I'm not sure what the kindest thing is I
could say about this film. The idea of killer trilobites (or whatever
they ended up being—millipedes? Mosquitoes? Rubber beasts?) is
kind of cool, they're prehistoric and (so far as I know) this is
their one turn as cinematic villains. Director John Carl Buechler is
best known for his make-up effects, but some of the stuff here looks
pretty dumb. There's one shot of a slithering trilobite that looks
like a giant rubber toy being pulled by a string. The best acting is
done by the helicopter pilot, there's no nudity (ordinarily that
would be a plus—breasts are so much easier to do than honest
suspense--but here I was starving for any kind of entertainment) and
the script...well, I can't believe it was any good before they rolled
it in cliché sauce.
If you're a big fan of trilobites (or
stock footage from The Thing), rent this, but be warned there
could've been more hot trilobite action and maybe, some day, someone
will make a movie that delivers for you better than this one did for
me. Somewhere out there is the Jaws of the trilobite world. Call your
agents, guys! Being extinct never hurt anyone for long.