Basilisk: The Serpent King (2006)

Basilisk
Doesn’t this poster just ooze quality? That’s a shame, because it certainly doesn’t ooze accuracy.

“An Eclipse Awakens An Acient Monster Whose Gaze Turns Flesh To Stone…No One Knows How To Stop It…But One Woman Knows How To Control It”

Directed by Stephen Furst (as Louie Myman)
Starring Jeremy London, Wendy Carter and Cleavant Derricks, and Yancy ‘Witchblade’ Butler

An archaeological team excavates a serpent statue and a golden sceptre, only to learn that the statue is in fact the basilisk, turned to stone and waiting for the eclipse to restore it to life.

The lead archaeologist (London), a hot folklorist (Carter) and a ramshackle cast of disposable caricatures must scour mythology to find a way to defeat a creature that can spit poison and turn flesh to stone with a glance.

What’s wrong with it?

You could run a book on the death order of the stereotypes in this thing: The cute but cynical archaeologist, the hot folklorist, the serious intern (dies first, with a crappy final line), the treasure-obsessed intern (played by a cheap Simon Pegg knockoff, and Simon Pegg isn’t exactly expensive), the bitchy sponsor/antiquities thief (Butler, who doesn’t die before being stripped to her underwear by the basilisk’s apparent taste for Versace), the stiff sponsor/antiquities thief, the shrieking, campy admin (played by director Stephen ‘Vir out of Babylon 5‘ Furst), and the National Guard Colonel (who survives, despite being black).

At least one person in the original panic is clearly pulling a statue on top of himself.

Outside of that, the plot is a mess, with a treasure map thrown in for good measure which, for some reason, the wealthy antiquities thieves know more about than any of the archaeologists.

The folklore is bad (basilisk is said to be Egyptian for king of serpents, rather than Greek), the science is bad (the same light as that found in the eclipse is said to be found in a nuclear reactor’s cooling tanks) and the history is bad (the information on the basilisk is credited to Pliny the Elder, pronounced ‘Ply-knee’ apparently). even the health and safety is bad (a soldier covers a manhole surrounded by friendlies with a bazooka from a distance of ten feet).

Yancy Butler is the stunt casting.

What’s right with it?

It’s a Sci Fi original. Right is not what they do. The basilisk is cheap and cheerful, but at least it’s cheerful.

How bad is it really?

Like most Sci Fi/SyFy originals, it’s just dull, as a result of trying to do big budget without the budget.

Best bit (if such there is)?

When Archaeologist McManly is sprayed with the most lethal venom in creation, his intern leaps into action, declaring: “There’s an eyewash basin in the sink!”

What’s up with…?

  • The butt-ugly sceptre being ‘the most beautiful object in the world’?
  • The sceptre being multitasked as a basilisk buster and the key to a treasure map?
  • The incredible well-informedness of the thieves?
  • The offensively camp administrator?

Ratings

Production values – All the budget goes on the basilisk, which is a barely passable piece of CGI, but does at least have a certain reptilian menace. The rest is absolutely bottom rank. 12
Dialogue and performances –  It’s mostly pretty basic, but a few absolute stinkers stand out (the serious intern dies on a shot at the villain’s prosthetic implants which isn’t even well done). The performances are workmanlike. 14
Plot and execution – The treasure map plot and the actions of the two thieves are pretty incomprehensible. The rest is basic fare, but somewhat muddled. 12
Randomness – The plot hinges on a lot of coincidences and contrivances, in particular the major sub-plot about the thieves. 9
Waste of potential – It takes a lot of work to waste the dearth of talent involved in this production, and yet it manages it. 15

Overall 62%

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