The Relic (1996)

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Released 15-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 105:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:17) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Hyams

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Penelope Ann Miller
Tom Sizemore
Linda Hunt
James Whitmore
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music John Debney

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Relic can be classified as a standard entry in the scary monster movie category. The plot has a few holes and the acting, while not bad, is unexceptional.

    The story concerns an anthropologist who arrives back from South America with some nasty surprises in store for his museum colleagues back in Chicago. Although the film does not go heavily into the details of its growth into a lethal creature, a horribly mutated monster begins killing the staff of the Chicago museum. Brave detective Lt Vincent D'Agosta played by Tom Sizemore and museum researcher Dr Margo Green - Penelope Ann Miller - work together to try and put an end to the creature's reign of terror.

    You are provided with frights and moments of suspense, but you can predict the outcome of this film fairly easily. More of the 'frights' in this film seem to come from the audio track than anything else. The film's special effects are pretty good and were not far behind leading edge for their day (1996). The standard 'monster film' style plot notwithstanding, I enjoyed The Relic and no one will fall asleep during it, that I can guarantee.

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Transfer Quality


The Relic was shot in 2.35:1 anamorphic and that is how it is presented (2.35:1 16x9 enhanced) in one of the darker transfers you will see.

The picture was quite sharp and gave no reason to complain. Shadow detail was fortunately very good for what is a very dark film, although it falls short of the best I have seen. Blacks were fairly well saturated and low level noise was not really an issue.

    Colours were well saturated and there was no trace of bleeding or any other colour related problem at all.

MPEG artefacts were only briefly apparent if you looked for them in backgrounds. There were no real problems here. There was a small amount of aliasing at the start of Chapter 2 when the camera pans over the Chicago skyline. Film grain was at times noticeable early on such as at 14:05. Film artefacts were present throughout the feature but not in numbers and severity to distract too much.

The subtitles are accurate to the spoken word most of the time.

This was an RSDL disc withthe layer change at 61:12. There is a noticeable pause in what is one of the less seamless changes I have seen in recent times.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The audio is the star of this film. What a soundtrack! Right from the opening you know you are in for a serious assault. Dynamic range is well utilized by this soundtrack, and this is most definitely a soundtrack-driven film.

Dialogue sounded natural and the quality was fine. No problems here. Audio sync was also not a problem.

Music was used to add tension and atmosphere to good effect in this film and all speakers contribute.

The surrounds were used generously throughout this film and became loud during moments of tension and action scenes. This is a very dynamic soundtrack that if played at or even near reference level will challenge many sound systems, which is of course one of the reasons I wanted to review it.

There is a lot work for the subwoofer in this film. At times, such as 73 minutes into the feature, the bass power and extension is remarkable. My 18" Velodyne shook the entire house in such scenes. Watch out with the level control on your sub. Have it no more than 30% of max or you may end up in trouble.

    I had a lot of fun with this soundtrack, which I believed to be the highlight of the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


There is almost nothing in the way of extras on this disc.


The menus are not scored or animated but are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    In stereo and not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this DVD appears to have the same lack of extras as the local one. Our version is cheaper so you might as well buy the local one.


    This solid horror/suspense film has nothing you have not seen before. It has good picture quality but the stand-out feature is its awesome soundtrack. If you watch this film through the speakers in your TV or through a poor quality sound system you will be in for a far less entertaining experience.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Gavin Womersley (read my bio)
Wednesday, November 07, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-985 THX Ultra certified surround pre-amp.
AmplificationParasound HCA-2003 3x300w THX certified power amp, NAD 208THX 2x300w power amp.
SpeakersVelodyne HGS-18 1250w 18 servo-driven subwoofer, Celestion A3 front speakers, A2 rear speaker (full range) and A4c center channel speaker.

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