Basilisk: The Serpent King (Review)

Basilisk: The Serpent King

Directed by Stephen Furst

SciFi Channel churns out more original films than an original film churner-outer (Okay, I couldn’t think of a funny reference!) and many of them are just below average dreck that gave SciFi Channel a reputation of awfulness. But sometimes they aren’t bad and are actually fun. Thus, Basilisk: The Serpent King is one of those fun films, because otherwise I would be talking about how this isn’t a fun film and was terrible, now wouldn’t I? See, you are a smart audience, that is why I write for you! So Basilisk: The Serpent King manages to be entertaining, with a few good characters and some funny scenes. The best SciFi Channel monster films are the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously, have memorial actors, and have a plot that keeps the story moving but lets the monster do most of the killing. We got all of the winning elements here, so read on to see how it wins! Or I will turn you to stone or send Fawkes to peck out your eyes or something. Parselmouth!

Director Stephen Furst has also directed the SciFi Channel original Dragon Storm, but he is best known as Flounder from Animal House and Vir Cotto from Babylon 5.

Dr. Harrison “Harry” McColl (Jeremy London) – TS from Mallrats? You are here again? This time, Jeremy London is Dr. Harry McColl, famous archeologists who is lucky at digging stuff up in the desert, but unlucky as the stuff comes alive and kills people. He’s totally gonna get sued! See Jeremy London still looking like Brendan Fraser in The Terminators.
Rachel Donegal (Wendy Carter) – Professor of religious studies, which is in the archeology department because the school is small, I guess. Rachel Donegal is also the love interest, so good thing she’s single. Wendy Carter returned to the SciFi Channel-verse in Copperhead.
Colonel Douglas (Cleavant Derricks) – Rembrant from Sliders? Awesome! Colonel Douglas is the military officer called on the scene to deal with the Basilisk menace. Unlike most military officers, he usually listens to the scientists who know what is going on! That is why Cleavant Derricks rules. That, and Sliders.
Rudy Herman Skeeters (Griff Furst) – Harry’s grad student and right hand man. Rudy spends much of the film quipping jokes and doing research. Griff Furst is the son of the director.
Hannah Carmilina Turlini Frankman (Yancy Butler) – Hannah Carmilina Turlini Frankman’s full name is a total guess because I didn’t see it spelled out. She and her husband Brock fund McColl’s project because they are planning to steal the artifacts due to one of them being a map to a huge treasure. Yancy Butler is Witchblade, but I knew her from The Ex years before.
Brock (Doug Dearth) – Hannah’s husband and his name is totally not Biff. Don’t call him Biff. Even though he is stiff, as in turned to stone. Then he has a crack up as the Basilisk shatters him. Them’s the breaks!
The Basilisk (CGI) – The Serpent King here is more of a queen, what with being a gravid female. Turns people to stone with eye power and venom power, but also is turned to stone via eclipse power.

Some blindfolded dudes let loose the Basilisk in old school Libya, only to get turned to stone, chomped, or tail smacked. I have no idea why they bothered to release the Basilisk, but okay. The sun eclipses and the Basilisk turns to stone while the last guy there gets crushed by falling rocks, his Basilisk-headed staff that may or may not control the Basilisk is buried with him.

But now it is modern day! Harry has found the staff and says an old king made it to fight an evil monster, Rudy listens as he wears a cowboy hat and goggles. Yeah. Of course, they are also digging up the guys who were turned to stone, and are confused. There is a short chat with some locals, the Bedoin tribe lead by Bashar Rahal (from Shark Attack 3: Megalodon), who tell them to get lost because the place is cursed. Right after, they find the stone Basilisk, and end up taking the whole bunch of artifacts back to Colorado.

In Colorado, Department Head Professor Carlton is all happy about the upcoming exhibit of all the Order of the Sun stuff Harry found, like the scepter (we are told it is called Eye of the Medusa) and the Basilisk statue. There is also an eclipse this week, remember that there was on in the prologue. Professor Carlton is so sleazy black sludge started to leak from my TV whenever he was on screen. Director Stephen Furst did a good job of bringing him alive. Harry meets Rachel Donegal, the new professor and love interest who studies religion and history.

It is exhibition night! Rudy and Harry’s other grad student Sierra have CATscanned one of the statues and find bones underneath the exterior! The Basilisk only turns the outer few inches into stone! Lazy, lazy Basilisk. They also realize they may have robbed a grave and will have to return the bodies. Ethical archeologists? What?

But rich couple (and funders) Hannah Carmilina Turlini Frankman and Brock come by and act creepy. Just as the basilisk statue is unveiled, the eclipse happens, the light goes through the jewel on the Eye of Medusa, and the statue returns to flesh! D’oh! This is not what they meant when they wanted history to come alive…

The Basilisk statues a few people then starts smashing stuff up as everyone runs. Hannah uses this time to steal the Eye of Medusa so Harry has to chase after her. His graduate student Sierra gets knocked into the monster by Hannah, and is chomped. This unveiling is a clusterfrak! The building partially collapses, and Harry, Rachel, and a random security guy are trapped in the basement and try to escape via the sewer system. The security guy plays the part of the cabbagehead, the person who doesn’t know anything so the other characters tell him information and thus the audience. This is one of the rare films and shows that doesn’t create a cabbagehead by having one of the main characters suddenly get stupid for a few minutes (see Star Treks, Law and Orders, CSIs, etc.)

Outside, the cops come, as does the National Guard lead by Colonel Douglas who thought he was there for terrorists. But he accidentally slide into this reality instead. Colonel Douglas takes over out of annoyance that he was called out for animal control (for he doesn’t know yet the scope of the animal) so that’s why we never see the cops again. Harry, Rachel, and security guy make it to a manhole cover (but it is welded shut) but are high enough to get a cell phone signal to Rudy, who calls the army over. They begin two weld, but as we have an extra character down in the sewer, we know the security guy named Sims is going to die. And he does. Harry and Rachel get out, but a few army guys go down the hole…to die. None of them live, and after the army fires a rocket into the manhole the creature makes like a tree and gets out of there.

Colonel Douglas is one of those rare army guys who actually listens to the concerned scientists, so asks Harry and Rachel what is going on. Rudy drops by with a scale from the Basilisk he found, so the theorizing begins. The next solar eclipse is in four years, so they need something a bit faster to turn Basilisk back into stony time. They tell Colonel Douglas about the scepter and to look for Hannah, but he suddenly becomes unacceptable of their theories, but he still listens some and takes them along as the army heads to seal off the end of the subway so they can trap the monster. I guess Douglas is just not understanding enough to add a few minutes to the plot, but not so not understanding as to endanger an entire town.

Hannah and Brock escape get out of the subway, but some army guys are there and are going to arrest them. They were, until the Basilisk attacks! guys get chomped, but the monster won’t attack Hannah with the scepter thanks to streetlight shining through the jewel. This would never work for me, because streetlights randomly go off when I get near them. Hey, Harry has the same default ringtone my wife used to have on her cell phone! Rudy has called to tell him the scale is all super-tough, but the legends saying Basilisks are afraid of mirrors might mean super-refractive light would hurt it.

Bickering between Hannah and Brock reveal they have some sort of motive to steal a map that has symbols that will realign after the night is over so they must take it tonight. We’re slowly getting our motive here. So the two decide to hide in a mall…filled with people! This mall is open late, but at least the announcements tell the customers inside it just closed (but it was still packed!) The Basilisk then enters the mall to go shopping…for human food! And also to destroy Hot Topic and Torrid, as they are the worst stores in the mall and deserve to be destroyed by a giant lizard. The best part of the mall attack is the guys playing D&D who argue about what the Basilisk is.

Basilisk kills random mall dudes while the scientists chase after Hannah and Brock. We got a chick fight in sporting goods! The fight goes all tragic when Brock gets turned to stone and shattered. Brock became rock, what a crock. Hannah grabs the scepter and runs, while the heroes imitate ET by pretending to be mannequins so the Basilisk doesn’t eat them. Instead, the Basilisk eats some nachos!

The movie attacks Ashlee Simpson by claiming her music is horrible. I agree. But instead of paying licensing fees for her terrible, terrible songs, they use country music over the intercom to try to hurt the creature (Basilisks don’t like loud noises, and no one has a rooster.) The plan doesn’t work, and soon the army has a huge firefight, with the Basilisk snapping at dudes left and right. A guy with a liquid nitrogen sprayer ends up crashing into the side of a building. Don’t bring a liquid nitrogen sprayer to a lizard fight!

Rudy calls to let us know the Basilisk is filled with eggs, so now it is even more urgent to stop it, because the film risks turning into the middle part of the American Godzilla movie! No film deserves that fate. The Basilisk is following the scepter because it is, dang it. The scepter is at the college with Hannah, who is trying to steal a map that is sitting on Harry’s desk. Hannah grabs Rudy and puts a knife to his neck to force him to translate the map, but then Harry and Rachel arrive, with a gun, and a standoff occurs. Until the Basilisk arrives and rips off Hannah’s dress! Well, that’s a chickfight I didn’t expect! Hannah’s anger over the loss of an expensive dress ends when the Basilisk bites her in half. Heh-heh…it’s a…HALF-OFF SALE!!!!

Harry gets sprayed by venom, and Rudy and Rachel drag him to the lab to wash off. The eye wash station is pretty lame, in my schools we have these cool shower-type things that will actually flood the lab if they are used, because they are used so rarely it isn’t cost effective to redesign the plumbing to handle them. As the Basilisk tries to smash into the lab they are in, Rudy sets off all the gas pipes, and uses a gun to shoot the gas line, and the lab explodes, Rudy is thrown clear, so no one dies. Not even the Basilisk, who has disappeared.

Rudy gets an idea to use lights in the coolant room at the nuclear power plant as an artificial eclipse to use with the scepter to re-stonify the Basilisk. Finally, some movie is using nuclear components in a non-nuclear bomb way to save the world! They trap the Basilisk in the nuclear power plant, so Harry suits up in a radiation suit to go inside with the scepter.

Harry uses the scepter on the monster, and she partially stonifies. Before the Basilisk is fully turned to stone, she knocks Harry down (and the staff away.) As the creature is rapidly turning back to flesh, Harry uses a giant robotic claw to grab it and throw the Basilisk into the supercooled water, thus breaking apart the Basilisk via physics.

So it is dead.

Everyone is happy! But the symbols on the scepter go away. The heroes give the scepter back to the tribespeople, but go treasure hunting anyway, and ride off all Indiana Jones. So they returned one treasure only to try to steal a bigger one? This is ethics whitewashing right here, folks!

Rated 9/10 (Blinded by the light, Stone Osama, Grad student alert!, Remember when those slogans were popular?, 3D?, Feeding the bums!, rough, evil eyes, Basilisk Attack 3: Megabasiliskadon!)

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