Directed by MIchael Burnett
Produced by Scott Zakarin, Eric Mittleman, & Michael Burnett
Written by Eric Mittleman & Scott Zakarin
Director of Photograpy Peter Ney
Music by Efrem Bergman & David Criden
Cast: Chase Masterson, Chris Hoffman, Maggie Grace & Cory Hardrict
2002/79 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Razor Digital Entertainment DVD
Anyone who came of age in the late 70s/early 80s must surely lament the passing of the independent horror film movement. It's fascinating to thinks that oddities such as MOTHER'S DAY and MANIAC actually played in theaters. Yet, independent horror movies are still being made, but 99.9% of them go straight to video. Walk into any video store and you're faced with dozens of unfamiliar horror titles. Most of these movies aren't worth your time, but occasionally you'll find a half-way decent one, such as CREATURE UNKNOWN.
CREATURE UNKNOWN opens as sort of a BIG CHILL for a new generation. A group of friends, Steve (Chris Hoffman), Amanda (Maggie Grace), Lance (Cory Hardrict), Coral (Betty Okino), Rachel (Ella Bowman), and Sean (John Keyser), along with Sean's girlfriend, Ally (Kristin Herold), venture to a cabin in the woods, where, four years ago, Steve's twin-brother Wes disappeared and was presumably killed, although his body was never found. Following that tragic event, the friends went there separate ways, but Steve hopes that this reunion can heal those old wounds and rekindle their bond. However, the peaceful retreat is soon ruined by the arrival of a blood-thirsty monster which seems intent on killing anything which gets in its way. Also coming into the picture is Kat (Chase Masterson), a local doctor who is acting very mysteriously. Does she know something about the creature? And more importantly, what can Steve and his friends do to survive this nightmare?
At first glance, CREATURE UNKNOWN looks as if it's going to be yet another "Spam in a cabin" flick, as we are introduced to the stereotypical characters (the stud, the good girl, the goth chick, etc.) and watch them make their way to a secluded locale, where they will presumably be slaughtered. However, when the story actually arrives, it's clear that CREATURE UNKNOWN is going to offer a bit more than the average hack 'n slash pic. The film combines elements of the standard "creature on the loose" movie with a mystery plot and traces of a teenaged soap opera. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Kat is hiding something, but the creature also seems to have a bond with the group of friends. And the fact that no one knows what really happened to Wes becomes a piece of the puzzle. Special effects veteran Michael Burnett makes his feature directing debut with CREATURE UNKNOWN and does a fine job of keeping the movie moving along. The monster itself looks pretty good, and Burnett clearly knows how to shoot it so as to hide the seams. The young cast is OK, but "Deep Space Nine" veteran Masterson (who served as co-producer on the film) hams it up too much, making her character annoying. CREATURE UNKNOWN is by no means a classic and can't hold a candle to those indy films from two decades ago, but for a direct-to-video feature, it's not bad and provides a story to accompany the gore.
CREATURE UNKNOWN rages onto DVD courtesy of Razor Digital Entertainment. Despite the fact that the DVD box and the press release list the aspect ratio as full screen, the movie has actually been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on high definition digital video and thus, looks fantastic. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look fine and the is image is stable. There is some mild artifacting at times, but for the most part, the transfer looks good. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and music. The movie has a nice sound design and the sounds of the creature fill the rear speakers and the attack scenes offer nice bass response.
The DVD contains a few extras. We start with an 8-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which offers comments from the cast, as well as the director, the writers, and the producer. This segment gives an overview of the film's production, from the script to the location shooting. "Inside the Special Effects" (4 minutes) shows how Burnett brought his experience to the film and offers a look at how the creature suit was made. Finally, we have a disappointing blooper reel (4 minutes).
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©