Behemoth (2011)

Behemoth

Directed by David Hogan

Written by Rachelle Howie

Run Time: 90 minutes

Guest review by Sean Ledden

The 1950’s had the drive-in theater, and today we have the “Syfy” Channel. Its motto is “imagine greater,” which is astonishing given how much the people who run the channel evidently hate and despise imagination.

But what did P. T. Barnum say? “There’s one born every minute”, and when I saw ads for a new giant monster epic called Behemoth awhile back, I couldn’t help but give it a look. And here’s the shocker, it didn’t suck that much. Oh, it had sucky elements – but it was also clear that the filmmakers tried to craft a decent giant monster movie with some classic story elements. They avoid ADD editing (I could kiss them!), and they give us some characters who are, on the whole, pretty easy to spend time with. Amazing. In the end they are defeated by their low budget, but heck, if you like giant monsters it might be worth checking out. Here’s a mini-review:

Set in the beautiful mountains of the Pacific northwest, Behemoth begins when a dormant volcano rumbles to life and kills two DOD agents who are taking mysterious readings on its slopes. Down in the valley the sleepy little town of Ascension experiences the tremors, but no one wants to believe an eruption is imminent. Except for that nice, smart, and possibly crazy William Walsh. In a nice bit of in-joke casting, he’s played by William B. Davis, who made such an impression on The X Files as The Smoking Man. Here he plays a Mulder type who’s convinced something extraordinary is about to happen, but whose going to believe an old man on medication?

behemoth

 

Perhaps his son Thomas, played by the sexy Ed Quinn? Not at first. Until one of his co-workers dies mysteriously at a construction site close to the volcano, and a babe-seismologist (is there any other kind?) played by Pascale Hutton blows into town warning anyone who will listen that the volcano might erupt any minute. Which would be bad enough, but it might be much worse. Reports of weird seismic events leaving massive destruction start coming in from other parts of the world and another DOD agent comes to town looking for a guide to take him up to the volcano. Could it be the epicenter?

As the weirdly atypical tremors continue Thomas agrees to take the agent up to the mountain even as his father’s warnings get more urgent and crazy. He’s convinced that nature, reacting to the environmental destruction caused by human civilization, is about to unleash something that will wipe us out. But of course this doesn’t stop William’s young daughter Grace (Cindy Busby) from hiking up the mountain with her cute boyfriend Jerrod (James Kirk). Because you really need to get away from it all when your dad is going crazy. And because she doesn’t see how a man and his house near the mountain are both destroyed by a gigantic tentacle that erupts from the ground itself. (I’d like to think such an event would give her pause, but then, maybe not!)

So now, with most of our cast up on the slopes, the tremors get worse, and more of those enormous tentacles appear. Even the town of Ascension is attacked and William is trapped in a semi-buried diner. His family, meanwhile does a lot of running, screaming, tripping and falling. Which is all great fun, even if those huge tentacles seem remarkably ineffective. The old phrase “couldn’t hit the side of a barn” came to mind as I watched them flail about, although Grace’s cute boyfriend does manage to fall into the gaping maw of an unknown subterranean beast. (Yeah! – Sorry cute boyfriend.)

behemoth

 

All of this commotion convinces Thomas that it’s time to leave the mountain, but the DOD agent stubbornly refuses to give up his quest for something his late co-workers brought with them earlier. The agent pays for his tenacity when he’s fatally injured in another giant tentacle attack. But with his dying breath he manages to gurgle an explanation to Thomas about some sort of monster-killing weapon. Eventually Thomas, his sister, and the seismologist-babe figure out that this weapon is humanity’s last hope, just as the Behemoth finally erupts from the mountaintop in all his (her?) glory.

Thankfully for the future of humanity, our party of heroes manages to find the small carrying case that houses the weapon. Thank goodness too that it can be operated by one untrained man, and fires a guided missile that automatically finds the great beast’s mouth, then travels down its curved throat so it can blow up its gigantic heart. Phew! Hugs, tears, laughter, and a renewed appreciation of family, even one plagued by dementia, follow as Thomas and the seismologist-babe get (back!) together.

behemoth

 

Sean Ledden (April 2011)

Afterthoughts

OK, if I were to give Behemoth a grade, it would be a C+. One the plus side, no ADD editing, characters that are basically likable (William B. Davis and Ed Quinn are both good in their roles), and a satisfying monster design. Instead of a volcano spewing out lava and smoke, this one spouts a gi-normous head with a ring of tentacles. One the negative side, too much time is spent on earnest romantic heart-to-hearts. Something I call, in a giant monster movie at least, filler. Finally, the filmmakers don’t let its monster do enough, and it is dispatched way too easily at the end. The script tells us this thing has the potential of wiping out all of human civilization, but it can’t even wipe out a party of hikers on its home slope. Good grief.

I can sympathize with some of these problems, in that it’s tough to stage epic destruction on a B-movie budget. But since the filmmakers made it half-way to a really decent giant monster movie, I wish they had pushed themselves a bit harder. They could have had a minor gem to their credit.

Read more about Behemoth at

IMDB

19 comments to Behemoth (2011)

  • guts3d

    Kudos, another nice review, Sean! A bit too short for my liking, though! You bring up a good point; there is rarely enough monster in monster movies!

  • david fullam

    I hate Syfy!

  • Sean

    Thanks for the encouragement! This review is short because I actually watched Behemoth on TV without recording it or anything. So I had to rely on the outdated analogue technology of “memory” when recounting the plot. But I will see what I can do to flesh out my next attempt. Thanks again.

  • guts3d

    I can pick up a copy and mail it to you, it is available in the bargain bin at a local store here in the ‘Burgh.

  • Sean

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised Behemoth is already in the bargain bins. So are you in Pittsburgh? Surprisingly lovely place.

    And I hate “Syfy” too…What the hell is “Syfy?”

  • SyFy is just another step that American culture is taking on the road to perdition by bastardizing words to make them “cool”.

  • guts3d

    …SyFy is just another step that American culture is taking on the road to perdition by bastardizing words to make them “cool”.

    Not all of us! I hate that %$#@! as well. I think they mean the Sci-Fi channel on cable TV.

  • “…I think they mean the Sci-Fi channel on cable TV…”

    Yeah, I know, but I also think there IS a channel called “SyFy” as well or something. (shudder!)

  • Yeah, the Sci-Fi Channel became SyFy and increased the number of brain-dead “sf” productions it shows exponentially.

    “Behemoth” is one of those vids that I ended up rating around a 4/10 because of all the melodrama romance. I can never understand how the world is ending with the monster under the volcano and the characters are interested in pursuing their romantic relationships. I’ve had the misfortune in being in a few disasters; during the Albany flood of 1994, I’m afraid we were too busy filling sandbags and helping relocate the 40% of the population that had to be relocated. The night of tornadoes some time later resulted in my entire family sequestered in a hallway for three hours. So when I see the giant monster is out and about, and the heroes’ thoughts turn to love, I start rooting for the monster. :) I will say that the monster was kinda unique, and that’s always a plus. I would one day like to see the movie where everyone acts realistically, and that that sexy woman scientist is actually just a plain jane or even outright ugly. Of course, SyFy would never air it. :)

  • Sean

    Have you noticed how all the specialty channels are dropping their specialties and turning into mini-USA Channels? The “Arts & Entertainment” Channel, “A&E” now features true crime and mental illness. The History Channel is saturated with monsters and UFO’s. (Nothing against monsters or UFO’s, mind you, but it’s the HISTORY channel!) Even the Animal Planet Channel now sports an ad campaign boasting it’s “surprisingly human.” So it’s not surprising that the “Syfy” channel continues to run away from science fiction, which seeks to entertain by broadening our prospectives. Part of that deal is that SyFy is pretty religious about following the winning paint by numbers formula of “explosions for him, romantic talk for her.” I share Randy’s frustration that whatever peril the world is facing, be it monsters, volcanoes, or aliens, it all takes a back seat to the romantic problems of our lead characters. In fact, the script often hints that the crisis is God’s way of getting our squabbling couple, or family, back to together again. Dear Lord! My idea of a ripping good yarn, so to speak, is the 1960′s Hammer production of “5 Million Years to Earth.” (Or “Quatermass and the Pit”, as it was called in England.) The characters in the movie form relationships with each other, but Topic A is always understanding the thing found buried under the streets of London – and what it means for humanity’s past, and future….Thrilling!

    Finally, congrats to Randy for getting through floods and tornadoes!

  • Sean, you’re absolutely right about the loss of focus on practically all the cable/satellite channels. IFC (Independent Film Channel) used to show off-beat, uncensored, unedited movies without commercial interruption. Now they’ve got more commercials than AMC, and they’ve rendered their channel useless. I emailed them on it and complained. Their response was “we’ve got to generate additional revenue to create new original programming.” WTF? I asked them who had demanded they create new original programming? They never replied. But they’ve ruined their channel. A 90 min movie now runs at least 2 hours or 2-1/2! Starz and the rest of them are doing the same with Tudors, Thrones, Camelot, etc. It won’t be long before they start airing commercials, I bet.

    And you’re also right about the value of the movies like “5 Million Years to Earth.” The three scientists are not “drop dead gorgeous” — they’re realistic, and they portrayed as scientists–not high schoolers on a date. And the ending where one dies and the other two are sitting in the street in the aftermath is probably the most realistic ending to a disaster of that sort I’ve ever seen. Would that all movies were as credible in their endings.

    And thanks about the floods and tornadoes. You can look ‘em up on the Internet. Albany isn’t quite as bad as South Park, but every 50 years or so, it gets wiped out. Tornadoes, floods, fires. LOL I keep waiting for Mecha-Streisand or something like Behemoth crawling out from the aquifers that honeycomb under the town.

  • Sean

    I agree with your statements about the cable channels. And can I complain about a related matter? Most of the time I avoid any channel with commercials. But when I do watch something on them, I’m appalled that advertising is now embedded IN the programs!!! Big, showy, distracting moving animations advertizing another program, right when your watching something else. Incredible. Our national case of ADD is progressing nicely.

    And I will look up Albany and natural disasters. I’m not too far away, actually. I’m in New York City. So maybe it’s time to buy a bathtub’s worth of water and a portable generator. Now that I have a “Mecha-Streisand” to fear in addition to everything else!

  • Actually, it’s Albany, Georgia. :)

    From Wiki…
    While integral to the economic life of the town, the Flint River has flooded regularly with resulting property damage: in 1841 and 1925. On February 10, 1940, a severe tornado hit Albany, killing eighteen people and caused wide-scale damage. Later twentieth-century floods have been extreme. In 1994, a severe flood was caused by rainfall from Tropical Storm Alberto, killed 14 people and displaced 22,000. From this disaster came improvements, with the state supporting a $150 million renovation of the Albany State University campus, making it one of the best. In addition, new improved housing was built on the south side of town to replace what had been destroyed. In 1998, the Flint River crested at 35 feet (11 m) above its bed and flooded parts of the city. Areas near the city are being adapted for other uses, with a riverfront walkway and a new aquarium built over a tributary creek. Such projects are making another use of the river.

  • From the Albany websites

    the worst fire in the history of the City occurred on March 13, 1867, when twenty-seven buildings in the downtown area were completely destroyed. It is understood that the fire was of such magnitude, that fire companies just protected the surrounding blocks of buildings and let the fire burn itself out.

    BTW, this happened a couple of times in Albany history…

    The Night of Tornadoes took place in the 1990′s and dozens of homes were struck by dozens of tornadoes. We literally spent hours in the hallway with the kids from 11pm until 4am. Linda’s brother and sister-in-law were visiting to evade a tropical storm that bore down on them at Gulf Port MS and followed them here. LOL

    Like I tell you, I expect the Kraken, the Behemoth, or Godzilla to strike any time now…

  • guts3d

    The Kraken or the Behemoth maybe, but Godzilla is busy over on Monster Island with pesky kids and transistor radios and what-not. And leaky reactors.

  • He feeds on that sort of thing, you know.

  • Sean

    There’s an Albany in Georgia!?! I’m glad I made the mistake online, and not at my travel agent’s. To wit, I recently flew down to Wilmington, N.C. The local taxi driver there told me how every week a couple of people arrive expecting to be in Wilmington, Delaware! Including one poor soul who flew in on the last flight of the day, around 11 PM. And he had an important meeting next morning in the other Wilmington. He HAD to be there. So he hired a taxi for an all-night drive up to Delaware!

    And back to those Tornadoes – I now seem to recall a TV movie called Night of the Tornadoes. I think it must have been about the outbreak you experienced. Yikes!

  • Albany, Georgia’s named for Albany, New York. They’re both river ports, so to speak.

    Yikes, I’ve heard of famous mistaken destinations like that, but I’d hate to have to pay the cabfare from NC to DE.

    Back to recent SyFy disasters, did you catch Deep Shock?

  • Sean

    Nope, I haven’t heard of Deep Shock…Another shameful lapse!

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