Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The most reviewed director on this site is the director of today’s Sci-Fi Original ‘The Terror Beneath’, Paul Ziller. I think this the tenth Ziller we’ve examined on the FCU and there’s another three or four we didn’t bother to review but might get around to later. It’s not that we’re big fans of Paul Ziller, though I’m sure he’s a wonderful person who treats his mother well, but Mr. Ziller must direct four movies a year, which is damned prolific for anybody, and the overwhelming majority of these movies land on the Sci-Fi channel and we don’t miss Sci-Fi channel movies. Since I’ve seen so many Ziller’s I think I figured a few things out about the man’s style of shooting. Monster movies… okay. Environmental disasters… not so okay. The problem with the disaster movies I’ve seen is that invariably a lot of the action will take place in a control room with people looking all concerned and stuff at computer monitors. In Polar Storm

people looked concerned at wavy lines which represented magnetic waves on a monitor, in Ice Quake folks looked concerned at squiggly white stuff masquerading as methane gas on monitors, in ‘Ba’al’ it was cloud cover on computer monitors, and in this film its scratchy brown errata representing vines from God’s Garden on computer monitors. The good thing for us is that this movie is better than those other environmental disaster movies we mentioned, but it’s no ‘Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon’ that much I can tell you.

Dr. Frame (James Morrison) has found a seed from the Garden of Eden, synthesized this seed and his made his own Garden of Eden wherever this movie takes place. That’s cool. Kyle, looking to get stupid paid, steals one

of the doc’s seeds and tries to sell it to some guy, gets shot in the process and drops the seed. The problem is that Kyle made this deal on a toxic waste dump. Why is this an issue? Because there’s a purity in these seeds that make it go wacko when it comes in contact with toxins. Now a super root is growing out of control, I mean seriously out of control, and the world is in danger.

Nutty environmentalist Joe (Jessie Moss) and his hyper dedicated girlfriend Kate (Luisa D’Oliveira) saw this go down and have been fleeing from this crazed root almost from the word jump. Why the root is chasing them, I don’t know, but it is. The good thing is that due to some crack research and a real lazy kitty cat (it’s complicated) they know where the root of this problem has originated. So to speak.

Also trying to stop the monster root is cynical non-believing SCOPE Agent Jack (Adrian Pasdar)… don’t ask me what SCOPE stands for… and the woman he’s roped into being the voice of horticultural reason in this movie, Dr. Jocelyn (Stefanie Von Pfetten). These are the ones who spend a lot of time locked in a control room looking at monitors. Jack also has a boss in Agent Principle (David Lewis), but he just chastises Jack all the time for stuff Jack should already know. Jack wants to evacuate Carson City which is in the path of the evil root, Agent Principle tells Jack ‘We can’t evacuate a city that large, you know this as well as anyone’. Or when Agent Principle told Jack the Executive Branch had to be secured, considering the crazy root is destroying the earth and Jack didn’t see the need for this. Again from Agent Principle, ‘This has to be done, you know this as well as anyone Jack’. Apparently he didn’t Agent Principle, apparently he didn’t. One time Jack asked Agent Principle for the time, and Agent Principle said ‘I don’t wear a watch Jack, you know this as well as anyone’. He said that.

If the root hits the west coast and its polluted oceans… all is lost. Our heroes must make it to Dr. Frame’s heavily fortified Garden of Eden for the solution, and then find the Tap Root. No time to explain of all that. Just remember that bombing the root didn’t work in the beginning of the movie, but now I think it just might be the right move.

I don’t think we’d be going too far out on limb here by saying that the premise for ‘The Terror Beneath’ is ridiculous. Seeds from the Garden of Eden destroying the Earth. Besides, where is God in all of this? You’d think the Good Lord would keep a better eye on seeds sprung from His garden. That being said we are pleased that our heroes didn’t spend too much time in that control room, mainly because that crazy root destroyed it, which meant they spent more time running from suspect special effects and Garden of Eden Commandos. That’s a good thing, and while we know a plant doesn’t make for much of a villain, we’ll take what we can get. And don’t think the symbolism of a runaway root from the Garden of Eden on its way to wreck Las Vegas was lost on us.

Sure Adrian Pasdar looked like if he could be somewhere else besides in this movie, he would’ve been there, and we aren’t too sure why the crazy root hated humans since it usually popped out of the ground just to crush humans, and the horticultural science left me confused about ten minutes in. But at least we can always count on the Baroness Stefanie Christina Von Pfetten to give her all, no matter what crap movie she might show up in, and unlike most of Paul Ziller’s atmospheric disturbance films, we were never bored during this one. Well, at least not all the time.

A good movie? Of course not, it’s about a killer weed for goodness sakes and it’s not a comedy. Anybody ever hear of RoundUp? The only other issue is the title. Why call this ‘The Terror Beneath’ when ‘Plant Terror Apocalypse’ was ready and available to use? I’m baffled.

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