HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Extraction
Overlanders, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling 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 726 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 is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: