Monday, May 18, 2015

PETER BENCHLEY'S CREATURE (1998)

PETER BENCHLEY'S CREATURE  (1998) 
Label: Olive Films 
Region Code: A
Rating: NR
Duration: 176 minutes
Video: HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Stuart Gillard
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Kim Cattrall, Colm Feore, Michael Michele, Giancarlo Esposito

I only vaguely recall this mini-series airing on TV back in the late '90s and the concept of a half-man, half-shark hybrid terrorizing the inhabitants of small island community starring Craig T. Nelson was not something I felt needed to be seen. Looking back now after having watched a few dozen awful Syfy channel movies about hybrid sea creatures with basically the same premise I can safely say that Creature looks like a slightly better prospect with the benefit of hindsight, you could do way worse when it comes to man versus mutant creature features. . 

We begin back in the '70s with the military weaponizing a dolphin/shark hybrid at a remote island military base. The experiments are so successful they go one step further and splice some human DNA into the mix, and wouldn't you just know it the toothy flesh-tearing beast escapes into the ocean. Now 25 years later a marine biologist (Craig T. Nelson) studying sharks (Nelson) and his scientist ex wife (Kim Catrall) discover the existence of the creature off the coast of an island and they must fight to put an end to it's carnage or die trying.

Spicing up the story is the fact that this shark hybrid turns out to be amphibious and capable of walking on land, which it does maybe a bit too much for our own good. Aiding the film is the fact that monster-man Stan Winston designed the shark suit, which looks great. Early on we catch the creature in only small doses, a few quick glimpses which work but once this creature is walking on land and chomping his way through scientists and soldiers it loses some of  the initial appeal. At over three hours long there's just way too much clunky drama and goofy shark shenanigans, after the two hour mark it was a bit of chore to sit through. 

Made for TV the drama is ripe and the gore is nearly non-existent but I give the design of the creature a big thumbs up, but this is just too long in the tooth to carry you through to the end. The mini-series benefits from some good production value with attractive sets and island scenery, the cast is decent and the man-in-a-rubber-suit effects are a lot of fun, way more fun than your average Syfy shit fest, with the added benefit of a rubber-suited monster, but at three-hours and stuffed with familiar drama it turns into a marathon of mediocre. 2/5

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