Monday, November 14, 2016

Holocaust 2000 (1977)

          Derivative Eurotrash noteworthy for featuring an American star in the leading role and for venturing into fairly extreme places, Holocaust 2000—sometimes known as The Chosen, Lucifer’s Curse, and Rain of Fire—is among the most enjoyably stupid ripoffs of The Omen (1976). Despite being quite slick on some levels, thanks to lavish production values, Erico Menczer’s vivid cinematography, and Ennio Morricone’s wonderfully gonzo score, the picture suffers from an atrocious screenplay and erratic direction. Things get so bad at one point that the film stops dead so Douglas can stand in place while voiceover of previously spoken expository dialogue repeats several times, lest the audience somehow miss the incredibly obvious implications of the storyline. And yet in the movie’s weirdest scene, pure narrative goes out the window as director Alberto De Martino lets loose with an apocalyptic dream sequence featuring visions of the end times intercut with, believe it or not, scenes of an anguished Douglas running across a desert while fully nude. File under “Things You’ve Never Seen,” cross-referenced with “Things You Never Particularly Wanted to See.”
          The ridiculous plot goes something like this: As American developer Robert Caine (Douglas) struggles to get plans for a Middle Eastern nuclear plant approved by reluctant government officials, prophecies and tragedies reveal that the plant is actually a scheme wrought by the antichrist, who, naturally, happens to be Caine’s adult son, Angel (Simon Ward). Yep. Angel. And Caine, as in “and Abel.” In other words, forget the mechanics of the dopey script. Grooving on the storyline’s broad strokes is more than sufficient, because the perverse fun of watching Holocaust 2000 involves laughing at Douglas’ overwrought performance—while secretly acknowledging that, every so often, his intensity gives real edge to the movie—and marveling at the abuse good taste endures in the name of disposable entertainment.
          One subplot involves assassination attempts on the life of a Middle Eastern prime minister, and this narrative thread culminates with a graphic beheading scene involving an errant helicopter blade. It’s as if the filmmakers studied the famous decapitation bit in The Omen, then asked how they could reconfigure the scene to add a provocative connotation. Never mind that the last thing the world needed was another depiction of political violence in the Middle East. Even more dubious is a long sequence set inside a mental institution—while shockingly gory and unquestionably unnerving, the sequence plays like a grindhouse homage to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). That’s not to say Holocaust 2000 utterly lacks imagination. A scene of Douglas caught on a flood plain while the water line rises with supernatural speed is memorably creepy, and the final act of the film echoes the all-is-lost vibe of The Omen, albeit without the benefit of ingenious storytelling. Holocaust 2000 is shameless crap, no question, but if you like your stories dark and pulpy, you may find yourself going along for the ride.

Holocaust 2000: FUNKY

No comments: