This 90s creature horror is clearly nonsense and although the cast do try to create a believable story it gets dragged down to a climax of chases in dark tunnels and it isn’t as much fun as it should be.
The film starts in the jungles of Brazil where anthropologist John Whitney has gotten a little too involved in his research into tribal customs and is tripping off his balls while a medicine woman laughs at him. Next we see a panicky Whitney at the docks trying to stop his collection from being sent to the Natural History Museum in Chicago but he fails so he stows away in the ship to continue his search for his crates. Several weeks later the ship is found adrift in Lake Michigan and the crew are missing or dead, their bodies found floating in the bilge tank.
John Whitney’s crates arrive at the museum having been sent by air freight and not on the death ship. The museum curator Dr. Ann Cuthbert (Linda Hunt) is busy organising a large fundraising benefit and is only interested what artifacts he has sent them. His colleagues are also worried that they haven’t heard from him. Dr. Frock (James Whitmore) opens the crates and in one he finds a statue of a native god called Cthugga, an evil-looking chimera sitting the skulls of its victims that we last saw back in the hut of the medicine woman in Brazil. In the second crate they find only leaves covered in a strange fungus. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Margo Green is curious abou the fungus and takes the leaves away for further examination.
That night a security guard at the museum is violently slaughtered by a creature. Homicide detective Lieutenant D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) is in charge of the case and right away thinks there’s a connection between the dead bodies on the ship and the security guard’s death. He discovers that the bodies all have their hypothalamus removed from their brain and is immediately interested when he finds out that Whitney was working in Brazil where the ship came from. The initial suspicion is that killers working for a drug gang are responsible because they don’t know there’s a monster on the prowl.
Margo had left the leaves in box in her lab and a beetle had crawled in. Later a monstrous mutated beetle emerges from the box and she kills it right away. She discovers that the fungus is full of powerful animal hormones that seem to not only cause gigantism but recombine the genes of different species to form monstrous chimera.
A couple of cops searching the museum’s basement are attacked by a crazed homeless guy covered in blood and they shoot him dead. The museum security chief is very happy about this because it means that they can go ahead with their big benefit night. D’Agosta is less happy and still demands that police are present. He’s worried that dead crazy guy doesn’t explain the missing hypothalamus and feels that the killer is still at large.
Of course D’Agosta is right; the creature is creeping around and attacks the security guards in the control room and sets off the security system and the sprinklers and it wrecks the power. It attacks the room full of rich people and everyone freaks out and most of them panic and run. But the security doors come down sealing a group inside, including the City’s mayor.
After they have done lot of shouting a cop manages to talk a group of them into finding an alternative way out through the basement. A group of injured people and annoying pricks wait by the main door for the police to break through and rescue them. This group don’t last very long and nor do the police that attempt to break through the domed ceiling and abseil down.
This leaves the group heading through the basement, D’Agosta searching for the creature with a police dog and a few scientists in the lab area including Margo and Dr. Frocke who have found what the creature is but this discovery is pretty irrelevant. It doesn’t help them figure how the kill the creature. After a lot of repetitive chase scenes through dark tunnels and dark corridors they eventually kill the creature and the survivors all get out of the museum.
This film does have some goods parts. The acting is okay and creature effects are pretty good but the story is pretty stupid and it really starts to drag in the second half. A lot of time is spent on a subplot about the petty politics of competing for research funding but it’s just uninteresting jibber jabber. Many of the characters are just thin stereotypes with one obstructive prick and an ass-kisser created to give a cheap thrill of seeing them killed.
I suppose for a dumb no-brainer film it passes the time harmlessly enough but I found it a bit too dull and cheesy