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Razor Digital presents

Creature Unknown (2003)

"I suggest you get out of here while you still can!"- Kat (Chase Masterson)

Stars: Chase Masterson
Other Stars: Chris Hoffman, Maggie Grace, Cory Hardict, Betty Okino, John Keyser, Kristin Herold, Ella Bowman, Matt Hoffman
Director: Michael Burnett

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (gore, language, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:19m:42s
Release Date: 2004-06-29
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

Creature Unknown, the directorial debut from special make-up effects artist Michael Burnett, is one of those guy-in-a-latex-monster suit flicks where a van load of attractive twenty-somethings find themselves doubling as a living buffet on their way to discovering some kind of horrible truth about what really happened when one of their friends mysteriously disappeared four years earlier. The story also features a crazed geneticist named Kat (Chase Masterson) who knows a thing or two about the hungry beastie, and we know she's a bad-ass because she wears fingerless gloves, rides a motorcycle and lives in an underground bunker with an array of weapons.

In one of the disc's short featurettes, one of the script-writer's for Creature Unknown claims to have wanted to create a sort of Big Chill monster movie, but this one never achieves any real sort of believable relationship between any of the stock soon-to-be-killed characters. One of the two dramatic payoffs is telegraphed a mile away, and the second plot reveal is equally expected, so what's left for the viewer is simply waiting for secondary characters to encounter the creature and meet their required death, which include a decapitation, an eye-gouging and a good old-fashioned disemboweling.

Burnett's make-up effects skills are put to good use for the title creature, if you like that full body latex monster suit kind of thing. The thing is that we've seen beasts like this before—they were a mainstay on Buffy The Vampire Slayer—and while I can appreciate the artistic skills required to create the costume, it never seems like anything more than a man in suit. Burnett employs some neat effects to give his creature the appearance of rapid movement, but those small touches could never make me see it as anything but a well-crafted costume.

Chase Masterson gets top billing as the radical geneticist Kat, though she doesn't really show up for a good 40 minutes or so. She chews her way through line after line of some truly over-the-top macho dialogue, all with the right amount of ball-busting bravado for a film like this. The blandness of the other characters, except perhaps for the wickedly bitchy Rachel (Ella Bowman) makes Masterson's tough chick posturing all the more watchable, in between a rubber-suited monster stalking hapless victims and the obligatory shower scene.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Razor Digital has issued Creature Unknown in what appears to be a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, though the backcover mistakenly states that it is full screen. No complaints at all with the quality of the transfer, and the depth and warmth of the colors is on par with any other genre title, and fleshtones are consistent and accurate. The print itself is clean, and free of any noticeable transfer flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: For a low-budget horror picture, the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround track provides a better degree of atmosphere and depth than do most in the genre. Discrete sound cues, like birds chirping, rise out of the rears to fill out the soundstage, as does the occasional stinger designed to cause a jump scare or two. Dialogue is clear and discernible, with no trace of hiss or distortion. A minor beef is that the bottom end is not as pronounced as it could be.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Superguy, The Hungry Bachelor's Club, Slammed, Would I Lie To You
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Here's a case where the extras made me wish I had liked the film more, because the participants here—from the writers to the director—all seem to think Creature Unknown is something really special. No new ground is broken in explaining the process of filmmaking, but Behind the Scenes (08m:29s) and Inside the Special Effects (04m:21s) cover essentially the same ground, and in which we see that seemingly more care went into the making of than is effectively shown in the finished product. A forgettable Bloopers and Outtakes (03m:57s) reel is also included.

In addition to four trailers for other Razor Digital products, the disc itself is cut into 12 chapters, with no subtitle options.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

Creature Unknown is a nice-looking, but ultimately pointless monster flick from effects wiz Michael Burnett, who tackles the directing role this time around. This is a return to full-body latex creature silliness, with a group of expendable stock victims and a tough chick/renegade geneticist as the dark hero of sorts.

Rich Rosell 2004-06-28