12th Nov2015

‘Maneater’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: James Remar, Sherilyn Fenn, Ron Carlson, Graham Greene, Gregory Cruz, Ray Wise, Q’orianka Kilcher, Allegra Carpenter, Ivana Korab, Stephanie Hodes | Written by Arch Stanton | Directed by Hank Braxton

maneater-dvd

A photographer and his group set out in the dead of winter for the Alaskan wilderness to take advantage of the limited, but beautiful daylight. They are met by an experienced hunter and local lodge owner who instills fear within the group by telling them the legend of Maneater, a huge polar bear that has fangs and claws sharper than steel. This epic tall tale quickly becomes a real living nightmare, as the group is unaware that a bear experiment has gone wrong. The bioengineering company, Clobirch Industries, has genetically altered a polar bear so it can better survive climate change, but the end result is a relentless, deadly, man-eating, killing machine…

What’s that? A killer bear movie? Even better a genetically engineered killer bear movie. Sounds like my kind of B-movie fun! Who could resist that cover art either? A ferocious man-eating bear  (well with the nomenclature of the film that *should* be a given) , growling out from the front of the DVD case… All I can see is “Buy me now!”, “You will love this nature run amok movie!”

Interestingly, what you get from Maneater is not the cheap and cheerful, tongue in cheek monster movie promised by the generic title and cover art. No sirree, from the terrifying escape of the genetically modified bear to the simple act of James Remar telling a story round a dinner table, this fear-flick goes for real scares from the get-go. And for the most part it succeeds. Surprisingly even the killer bear actually looks good! I was expecting a cheesy “guy in a suit” for the bear but no, what we get is a pretty well rendered CG/physical effects mix that looks like a real bear, not a video game character – fair enough the appearance of the creature is kept to a minimum early on which helps with the illusion but the creature is not bad… However there are some rather ropey moments as the film hurtles towards its conclusion and said bear looks, at times, like a reject from The Howling 2! The CG is not Hollywood blockbuster standard, but its certainly not The Asylum standard.

What is The Asylum standard however is some of the cast. Granted, Maneater has a handful of recognisable faces – James Remar, Gregory Cruz and Graham Greene to name a few – but there are some real dud performances from other cast members. Though to be fair to everyone involved, the line between a bad performances and a bad script is somewhat blurry in this case… This flick isn’t going to win any awards for screenwriting that’s for sure. It might win an award for “most annoying characters” or “characters you’d much rather see eaten at the beginning of the film” but that’s about it.

Something of a vanity project for producer and actor Ron Carlson, who appears in the film as photographer Brooking and is probably best known – in the UK at least – for the lesbain vampire movie Life Blood, Maneater is an OK way to waste 90 minutes of your time. Especially if you’re a fan of nature-run-amok movies like me. Hell, it’s probably worth watching the movie just to see James Remar take on the bear with a giant drill mounted on a snow mobile!

Oh, and stick around to read the credits. It turns out I was wrong, the bear in Maneater WAS a guy in a suit. Amazing what some great camera work (note the word some) can do.

Maneater (aka Unnatural - a title heavily laboured in Remar’s death rattle) is out now on DVD in the UK from 101 Films.

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