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Friday, October 27, 2006

3.04 --- The Hunters

Directed by : Paul Lynch
Written by : Paul Chitlik & Jeremy Bertrand Finch
Starring : Louise Fletcher, Michael Hogan, Les Carlson
First aired : 15th of October, 1988.

While walking through some remote grasslands which are soon to be developed into residential area, a young boy scout accidentally discovers a cave with prehistoric drawings. After a brief inspection by the local sheriff (Michael Hogan), a renowned archeologist dr. Klein (Louise Fletcher, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Firestarter) is summoned to investigate things further.

Dr. Klein certifies the drawings as authentic, and is determined to dig further, but her progress is being blocked by the land owner Jim Hilson (Les Carlson, Videodrome, The Fly). While two obviously do not get along, as Hilson would like that piece of land developed rather than excavated, Klein also thinks that Hilson is behind the minor vandalisms which happened at the site - namely, a sheep carcass was found nearby, and the doctor interpreted that as a sure "get the hell outta here" sign.

Soon enough, strange things start happening. More livestock goes amiss in the region, and sheriff discovers that all blood-and-wool trails lead straight to the cave. More interestingly, the cave paintings seem to change on the whim - dr. Klein notices that the "hunter" stickmen are suddenly appearing and disappearing on the cave walls in different positions. She shows this to sheriff, who tries to convince her to go and take a brief rest from the project and continue further. His suggestion is refused, and she decides to spend the night in cave, certain she'll catch the perpetrator.

Strange sounds awake her in the middle of the night, and the first flash of light brings another uneasy fact to life - the stickmen are now all gone from the walls, and rumbling noise and grunts are suddenly all around. Something - or someone - is obviously zeroing in on the good doctor, and before you know it, a loud scream rings out of the cave, waking up the sheriff outside, who spent the night in his jeep. He runs down to investigate, and finds Klein dead - with a spear in her back ! He is then confronted with the same noises the doctor heard before her demise. His answer is gunfire, but after emptying his six-shooter into the darkness, he notices the doctor's body is gone. A brief glance to the cave wall explains it - not believing his eyes, the sheriff notices an animated figure of stickman dragging a carcass with a spear in its back away from the scene. Which would be somewhat alright, if not for a whole roving band of stickmen approaching the "cave" painting from the other side...

Realizing it's his life at stake here, sheriff decides to act in an unusual manner - with a help of some water and brush, he tries to scrub away the stickmen from the walls. His ploy succeeds, as he just "deletes" away a nasty looking caveman who was looking to spear him from the back, saving his life. The cleanup done, sheriff leaves the cave, probably deciding that it's best to let some things just forgotten by the history.

***

We've seen this all before, haven't we ?

This time, the Zone plunders itself rather than something else, and basically rehashes a weak season 1 episode, Still Life. The difference, there you had a bunch of amazonians come to life from a set of old photographs - here you have a bunch of cavemen come to life from a set of cave drawings. The end result slightly favours The Hunters though - director Paul Lynch is capable as ever, and he, along with the decent cast, spearheaded by the Oscar winner Louise Fletcher, make this just about watchable.

But good it ain't. The script, by Paul Chitlik & Jeremy Bertrand Finch (previously of Aqua Vita) is shallow, and the whole thing is redeemed purely by acting and direction. Worth noting I saw this one when it aired 16-17 years ago, and even then didn't know entirely what to make of it. The fact I didn't really love it now just makes me feel good about myself.

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