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Film: The Relic

The Relic (or Relic) is a film adaptation of a novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child starring Tom Sizemore released in 1997.

A string of gruesome murders plagues the Chicago Museum of Natural History in the days leading up to a massive gala to open a new exhibit. The strange mutilations of the bodies suggests the killer may not even be human. But with so much at stake, the museum officials decide to push through the opening despite the dangers.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: The monster in the film is called the Kothoga, possibly because actually saying "Mwbun" out loud is a lot harder than reading it.
  • Adapted Out: Pendergast was cut from the film, though some of his characteristics were merged with D'Agosta. Smithback isn't as lucky to even afford that (somewhat fitting in a meta sense, considering his character) and his role is completely absent.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the original novel D'Agosta was in his late 50's and very out of shape and overweight (although in later books in the Pendergast series he does get back into shape and slim down a little). In the film, he's a lot slimmer and in his mid 30's.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The black security guard is the first to get it.
    • With a slow zoom on the reefer he was smoking in the restroom as he's mauled off-screen, no less. Drugs Are Bad, folks.
  • Buxom Is Better: The Mayor proudly boasts that his wife's cleavage won him the last election.
  • Brain Food: The Kothoga. Human brains aren't its first choice, though, it prefers to eat the plants from the Amazon used as packing material in some specimen crates (which have much higher concentrations of the hormones and such it needs). The events of the novel happen because the crates are moved to a more secure area of the basement after a curator notices they've been broken into, forcing it to search for alternatives (read: brains).
  • Cat Scare: An inexplicable cat is aboard the cargo ship. It serves to make the audience jump and to once again point out that D'Agosta is superstitious.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The maceration tank and the storage area Margo walks D'Agosta through.
  • Composite Character: The film version of D'Agosta contains characteristics of both his novel counterpart as well as the novel-exclusive Aloysius X.L. Pendergast.
  • Death by Adaptation: Lee/Kawakita and Frock
  • Foreshadowing: D'Agosta jokes that the storage area would be a bad place to light a match.
  • Gender Flip: Dr. Ian Cuthbert from the original novel becomes Ann Cuthbert.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Margo calls Greg a gerbil.
  • Hard on Soft Science: Margo doesn't see any worth in Dr. Whitney's anthropological expeditions.
  • Horror Hunger: For human hypothalamus.
  • Hot Scientist: Margo is especially fanservicey when she's changing into her dress for the gala.
  • Indy Hat Roll: Panicked party guests try to flee the museum as the security doors are activated. Some don't make it and are caught and crushed by the steel doors. Seeing as what the rest were trapped with, they were probably the lucky ones.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in the novel, as the first museum victims are two young boys who wander off in a closed area. The movie turns and plays it straight though, changing the boys to the discoverers of the body and the victim becomes the old black security guard.
  • It Can Think: Kothoga is able to recognize traps, hide bodies, and do what it can to stay out of sight from humans, justified by the fact that it used to be human itself.
  • Jerkass: Dr. Lee throws his hat in against Margo for a grant he doesn't even need (and she will have to close down without) and then to up his odds of getting said grant, he has her "accidentally" locked into the labs during the party so he can brown nose the benefactors in peace.
  • Kill It with Fire: Margo takes out the Kothoga by setting a lab on fire.
  • Lockdown: The damaged security system effectively locks everyone in the museum with the monster.
  • National Geographic Nudity: In the opening, Dr. Whitney is in the company of South American natives who wear little to no clothes.
  • Non-Malicious Monster
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The Kothoga, more so than the book: whereas Mwbun was recognizably human once (saurian legs and tail, gorilla-like head and facial features, this is some sort of tiger/fly hybrid.
  • Plot Hole: The movie places the first murder and the break-in for the crates on the same night. If the Kothoga had gotten to the crates, why did it need to kill?
  • Send In The Search Team: The SWAT team sent into the museum to rescue those trapped and kill the Kothoga.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Although Cuthbert didn't die in the original book, he was Driven to Madness by the end. The version here fares a lot better.
  • Tragic Monster: Kothoga, once its full origin is revealed.
  • Viewers Are Morons: There are quite a few glaring examples when compared to the source material. Any difficult names are dumbed down (Whittlesey becomes Whitney, Kawakita becomes Lee), the monster Mbwun and the tribe that controlled it, The Kothoga, are combined into one term.
    • And if you didn't get it five minutes ago when we told you he's afraid of black cats, we'll remind you now that D'Agosta is superstitious by having him refuse to pick up a penny wrong-side-down, and five minutes from now when we tell you about his lucky bullet.
  • Viral Transformation: The retrovirus creates monsters out of anything that ingests it by inserting saurian and reptilian DNA into host cells; but the victim needs a steady supply of specialized hormones to retain its new form, the victim-turned-monster; in order to acquire these hormones, the victim must go right to the richest source available and eat the hypothalamus of its victims or go mad from the pain of being unable to sustain its new form.
  • Was Once a Man: The Kothoga.
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