The Runestone (1990)


USA. 1990.


Director/Screenplay – Willard Carroll, Based on the Novella by Mark E. Rogers, Producers – Harry E. Gould Jr & Thomas L. Wilhite, Photography – Misha Suslov, Music – David Newman, Visual Effects Supervisor – Max W. Anderson, Special Effects Supervisor – John Eggett, Makeup Effects Supervisor – Lance Anderson, Fenrir Design – Lance Anderson & Gary Howe, Production Design – John Gary Steele. Production Company – Hyperion Pictures/Signature Communications


Joan Severance (Marla Stewart), Peter Riegert (Detective Fanducci), Tim Ryan (Sam Stewart), Alexander Godunov (The Clockmaker), Mitchell Laurance (Martin Almquist), William Hickey (Lars Hagstrom), Chris Young (Jacob), Lawrence Tierney (Chief Richardson), Dawan Scott (Fenrir)


A rock is found in a mine in Western Pennsylvania containing runic markings that show it was left by the Vikings. After it is brought to New York City, a beast goes on a rampage of slaughter. Police detective Fanducci is forced to confront the idea that the beast is an incarnation of the Norse god Fenrir.

As run of the mill monster movies go, The Runestone is a fair effort that was fairly typical for its era. It was a directorial debut for Willard Carroll who elsewhere had only produced and occasionally written children’s films, including several animated Oz and the Brave Little Toaster movies. Carroll has made three other films with only one of these, the children’s film Tom’s Midnight Garden (1999), broaching genre material.

The scares are generated with a degree of competence and they at least keep the exercise moving even if they never exactly offer any real surprises. And there are times when the film almost – almost but not quite – comes close to being more than an average monster movie. There is one very nice shot of a full moon and the silhouette of Fenrir’s paw passing across it followed, without any cut, by Joan Severance silhouetted against it in slow-motion during lovemaking. The plot is slim, offering up a codswallop of mythic nonsense that serves to offer minimal motivation for the proceedings – not far beneath it is no more than standard film about a monster running about slaughtering people. Unfortunately, Fenrir is an unconvincing makeup effect that looks exactly like a man in a shaggy dog suit.

The Runestone is passably well cast. Joan Severance, for about the first time in a film, keeps her clothes on. William Hickey plays the best of everybody as the aging crackpot sage. Peter Riegert tries to play a hard-nosed but golden-hearted detective, using ‘fuck’ as every second word, but the attempt goes badly astray and the performance comes off ridiculously posed.

Trailer here

Full film available here

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