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Sickle Mimicry


Sickle can be about as brooding as a Judas bug, but I love the guy. I have always had a fascination with creature features. There is nothing quite like a well-written creature feature. The really good ones have a way of keeping you mentally engaged between brutal scenes of flesh rending. Sometimes the plot is as simple as normal creatures behaving erratically or aggressively, like The Ghost and the Darkness. Sometimes it's a slightly abnormal size along with the aggressive personality that adds to the flavor, like in Jaws and Rogue. Others take an open mind, a willingness to ignore scientific plot holes, and a means to investigate the science along with the protagonist, however far-fetched it may be, like in Mimic or The Relic.

It is ignorant to deny the falsehood inherent in most, if not all, creature features that follow the "mutation/science experiment gone wrong" model. This is why when they are not well-plotted out, they lose the audience before the beast has made its second kill. But films like Mimic had plots that were not designed to aid the creature, but rather the creature aids the story of mystery. Sure, there are a lot of gruesome scenes and plenty of man-sized bugs running amok, but the story regularly pulls our protagonists to discovering the creatures, rather than quickly explaining them away and then spending the rest of the film trading blows.

Even films like Tremors, where the origin of the creature remains a mystery, a good portion of the film is still set aside for discovery and examination. We begin to understand the creatures along with our cast, as they begin to break down the various biological clues that lead to the strengths, weaknesses, and overall characteristics of the organisms beyond just their kill efficiency.

There is an artistic balance here that highly underrated. The good ones have a proper amount of scientific discovery, catalysts for imagination, and, of course, special effects. A good creature feature is difficult to pull off. It is difficult to get the appropriate budget, to manifest the creatures in the proper way. We often end up with SciFi Originals that seem to use high school student-graphic artist-aspirants to run their graphics crews for plots that follow the cliche models of nuclear mutation or a release from a prehistoric prison.

And with time the gems seem to be spread further and further out across the dunes of junk. It requires a lot of patience to depend on this genre for entertainment. But perhaps some day we will get another Relic, with a perfect level of intrigue, science fiction mystery, and one heck of a great monster.

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