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(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
It's always the bad movies that require bigger reviews than good ones because you have to explain exactly what makes the movie so bad - whereas good movies can carry themselves with minimal explanation.
THE OMEGA CODE is about the return of Satan during the dark days - yet nowhere is the Rapture to be found (that is the time when all saved souls are heralded up into the heavens before Satan holds his dominion over earth). Nowhere - and this is really odd considering its popularity among both Christians and Christian/Satanists alike - is the number of the beast to be found anywhere. That old 666 being marked upon every forehead or hand just ain't happening in this flick.
Not surprising that it's so cavalier, it was co-wrote and co-produced by the most infamous false prophet of our time, Hal Lindsey (also served as Bible Advisor to the movie.) Hal Lindsey is also so good as to give this movie a rave blurb, on the cover of the DVD no less, of how great HIS movie is. How magnanimous, to praise his movie so highly! It's that kind of over-the-top hubris that runs all through THE OMEGA CODE.
The film begins with text on the screen describing the "mathematical phenomenon" The Bible Code+. According to this minor exposition, there is also contained in the code, the Jerusalem Key, which will give whoever holds it dominion over the earth. What was God thinking to put something like that in there?
Cut to the movie where perennial bad guy and cult favorite Michael Ironside (SCANNERS, TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS), disguised as an Orthodox Jew (no hair locks?), moves with purpose through the back streets of a town in Israel. Meanwhile a Jewish scholar (Yehuda Efroni), is studying both his Torah and his notebook computer. He is using a very sophisticated program that is calculating numerical paths throughout his book, all written in Hebrew, and translating them into English. He momentarily gets spooked by a bird, reads the translation on his computer, tears a page out of his book, and hides it in his shirt pocket.
At that very moment, a red dot of light moves across the table, points to the old man's chest, and that's the end of the scholar. Michael Ironside is the shooter and he takes the book and the disk that contained the calculating/translation program, and gets spooked by a bird. Despite the fact that the man tore out the page, put the page in his shirt pocket, and was shot right after, Ironside's character noticed none of this while he was lining up his shot. He doesn't even notice that a page is missing from the book. This severe lack of attention to detail will come back to bite him.
As he makes his escape, he is confronted by two silent men. He turns and goes another direction and, mysteriously, there they are again. No matter which way he turns, the men are blocking his every move. Suddenly knowing how a chess piece feels, he grabs a conveniently placed girl and points a gun to her head.
One of the mystery men tells him to let her go. The girl pulls off his fake beard and, caught by surprise, he does let her go. He tries to fire his gun at one of the men but it suddenly jams.
"You have what you came for," one of them says. And the other one, allowing him to leave says, "Tell your master we have arrived."
Ironside points to the heavens and says, "He already knows." Michael is really pointing toward a security camera mounted on the roof of the alley - which gets spooked by a bird. After that, no more bird throughout the rest of the movie. I've no idea what the bird was leading up to, if anything. All of this was prologue and now begins the movie. Music derivative of THE OMEN plays. Still, the music is cool - you can't go wrong with Harry Manfredini (all of the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, THE RETURNING, all of the THE HOUSE movies, ZOMBIE ISLAND MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES II, SLAUGHTER HIGH, DEEP STAR SIX) as your composer. Yet I wouldn't be surprised if one of the film honchos (the Trinity Broadcasting Network, founded by the Crouch family, also made this movie) told him, "We want something Omen-ish."
HARRY: The Amish aren't known for their music.
So the movie starts out quite cool and I'm honestly ready for a good frightful film. After all, I've seen ROSEMARY'S BABY, THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, and a large number of lesser apocalyptic movies and God and Devil works (I watched the painfully plodding THE STAND) that weren't made by self-professed Christians. So if anything can scare the beejeezus out of me or Jesus into me, it should be a Christian propaganda movie made BY Christians for that very (publicly expressed) purpose, right?
What's more, one of the producers is Lawrence "Larry" Mortorff whose résumé includes HELLRAISER III (he also played The Bum), CHILDREN OF THE CORN II: The Final Sacrifice, DEADLY EXPOSURE, WARLOCK; The Armageddon, LAST GASP, and THE GRAVE. THE OMEGA CODE was also Co-Produced by Gary Bettman, whose work includes HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN, DEEP SPACE, WAXWORK, and LOBSTER MAN FROM MARS.
Plus, we have Carlos González for cinematographer, who has brought his lens to such movies as MUTANT SPECIES, WISHMASTER 2, and ARACHNID.
After the prologue and cool intro, we cut to a talk show and here is where things start to bog. The protagonist of the film is a self-absorbed "Motivational Guru" Dr. Gillen Lane (Casper van Dien, Catherine van Dien's current husband: STARSHIP TROOPERS, SLEEPY HOLLOW, PYTHON), who leaps onto the stage, does an embarrassing hip-hop "raise the roof" thing, and then leaps over a couch to begin his interview. He cracks lame jokes which are accompanied by an off camera drummer to give his punch lines a "ba-dump - ching!" sting. The talk show is there to gives us a long winded exposition on what this movie is about. Gillen, devoid of all charm, frenziedly tells us, face right into the camera, about the Bible Code. The old Jewish Scholar who died at the beginning was Rostenberg, famous for creating a program which revealed the Bible Code. Rostenberg thought that the Bible was really a holographic computer program (wouldn't you?) and instead of being studied in 2 dimensions, it should really be studied in three. In short, the Bible Code aka the Bible itself, has the entire human history contained within it and can "feed us prophecies of our coming future!"
Too bad all those millions of people over the past 2,000+ years were reading their Bible wrong. May their eternity in Hell be reasonably...er...brief? Anyway, oddly enough, Rostenberg's Bible Code program was such a secret that no one ever actually saw the program, how it worked or what it produced, and Rostenberg made no copies. So all we know about him are his unverifiable claims. Producer / Director Robert Marcarelli has Gillen hog the camera for an inordinate amount of time, while he goes through a very long explanation.
THE EXPOSITION! /
Despite his looking straight at us with intense energy, he just babbles for far too long. There are even shots of the talk show host Cassandra Barashe (Catherine Oxenberg AKA van Dien - Casper's current wife: LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, OVEREXPOSED, SEXUAL RESPONSE, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN) looking bored. So what did Producer/Director Robert Marcarelli think was happening to us, the real audience?
But though Gillen believes in the Bible Code, which no one has never seen, he doesn't believe in the Bible itself (?!?). Whenever somebody in the movie brings this up, we get some thunderous quick flashes of past pain. Gillen's Mother died and at that point he stopped believing in God. Thus his maturity was stopped at that level. We can only hope that he will grow a bit so we will like him. After all, he's the hero.
Meanwhile, the bad guys have the program which, though it works, is not complete. Perhaps a dll file is missing or something. They should be glad Windows can understand it at all! Without the missing part of the program, Rostenberg's software can translate the Bible, but it cannot reveal an extra part of Bible Prophecy, the Jerusalem Key - which will give anyone rule over the earth (was it really a good idea to put that in the code? What were those monks thinking?). That missing part, of course, was what Rostenberg tore out and hid. So the bad guys are trying to find the part that will make their program ready to ship.
At this point, more than 15 minutes into the movie, I'm still waiting for some Merry Mishaps to occur.
Michael York (THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, MEGGIDO: The Omega Code 2) comes into the picture as the charming Chairman Stone Alexander. He must be charming because he gets onto the stage, makes a bad joke, and gets delighted laughter and applause for it. Oxenberg is here and so is Dr. Gillen. So is Ironside, who is now revealed to us as Dominic, Alexander's brooding and sinister right hand man. Of Dominic it is said,
"He was some kind of priest once."
Catholic Priest is never said but it's presumed, and with all the current perverted
revelations coming out of the Catholic church these days, who's to say
the Protestants are wrong? Dominic is also homosexual, as it is later
revealed. So Dominic, a murderer who not only serves Satan and is homosexual,
but is Catholic to boot, is bad news doncha know? If you still don't know
it, the film makers had Harry Manfredini give him some suitably heavy
Darth Vader music to follow him around. Harry may have stopped the producers
from hiring someone to sing along,
Now we get a presentation whereas Princess Gabrielle of Tuscany (a princess of Tuscany? Do they just buy Royalty titles on eBay? I need to study more I guess), gives an incredibly lame, horribly acted out part, and all she (Stella Vordemann) really has to do is stand there and chatter, giving out yet more exposition (AUGH! PLEASE! I CONFESS!), about 3 minutes worth. That's an awful long time in a movie.
She tells us that Chairman Alexander has invented a wafer that will sustain a person for a whole day (Gadzooks! Alexander has invented "Powerbars" and "Tiger's Milk"! Genuis!). Stone also figured out a way to increase our drinking water supply by inventing a new method that will turn ordinary salt water into drinkable water (Thomas Jefferson co-invented desalination in 1791; we've had that technology on all of our U.S. warships since World War I; all of our modern ocean liners have been using it for nearly 100 years, and it's ridiculously easy to make and use. Plus you can distill salt and chlorine all at the same time but...ARGH! When is something going to freaking HAPPEN in this flick?). We are told that this revolutionary method will bring life giving water to remote desert areas.^
Anyway, the next thing you know, Dr. Gillen approaches a horse and its eyes shoot lasers. I ... don't know why.
Let's make this brief: Gillen goes to America, shoots a game of pool, and discusses his failing marriage with an older Senator friend (George Coe: THE STEPFORD WIVES, THE ENTITY, GOSPA@).
Chairman Alexander watches TV, we see that his company logo is a stylized pentagram, and he berates his henchman. Apparently Rostenberg's hidden program code contains the missing pointer tool.
Gillen returns to his wife (Devon Odessa: PUMPKIN HEAD), gives her flowers, his daughter a present, and in a snap patches up his marriage with lots of sappy soap opera histrionics. I say lots but this entire scene takes far less time than the exposition we've been exposed to so far. - Sure felt that way.
Gillen takes a teaching job and is visited by Ironside, who invites him to talk to Stone Alexander.
In another scene, a man (who sounds like Stone but remains unseen) speaking in a foreign language (possibly Russian but what do I know?) tells a computer geek to "Initiate the Jerusalem Initiative". This frightens the computer geek (No! Not the Jerusalem Initiative! Not the bore worms!) but he reluctantly complies.
FINALLY, nearly a half hour into the film, Merry Mishaps occur!
Why can't propaganda films be entertaining?
I mean, anyone who has ever read the Bible knows what a vicious, murderous, vile, and sexually charged book it is!1
Never in human history did Christianity gain popularity via love and peace.
The most popular evangelists, the ones who garner the most attention and the most followers, are those who wield the murderously Calvinist approach of "Fire and Brimstone" style of preaching, not those who espouse love.
Just read the Bible some time. Not a whole lot of love in there. Lots of unmerciful killing though. Or to get a load of modern Christianity, watch the Christian documentary, HELL HOUSE.
Read Moses' interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Nearly everyone who crosses those commandments shall have their blood upon them this and that - which meant slaughter.
Hal Lindsey, the co-writer, co-producer, and "Bible expert" on this movie, should also remember that, though witches should not be suffered to live and a man who sleeps with another man will have his blood upon him, the Bible reserved the most painful of deaths for False Prophets.
Like Hal Lindsey.
So with all of that going for you, why can't you make a scary as hell, action packed, razzle dazzle, knock me to my knees in terror, Christian propaganda flick?
They didn't follow the Bible for one.
THE OMEGA CODE is not interested in the Bible. The Bible was thrown out the window for the huckster snake oil of a book called THE BIBLE CODE. That and a bunch of televangelist theoretical hokum. Hal Lindsey didn't write THE BIBLE CODE, but he knew a good con when he saw it and quickly spat out THE APOCALYPSE CODE to coincide with the release of this movie and to ride the coat tails of the discredited Michael Drosnin, who wrote the book that this movie is largely based upon.
So instead of a hair raising Bible story we get:
The current Christian idea of evil in the modern world, all wrapped up in Stone Alexander. As he manipulates world events, and wins awards from the United Nations, he speaks of our "human evolution" (which he repeatedly pronounces as "Evil-lution"). Stone also keeps bringing up "The New World Order!" as if that too, is an evil thing.
For historical reference sake, it was U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush who first waxed poetic about his dream of a New World Order, and the religious right of the U.S. stood full behind him on it.
So what happened?
Really inane dialogue, and the response it elicits, are groan worthy throughout. In addition to the ones I've already mentioned, there is a key scene where Israeli representatives and assorted "Arab types" are having a heated argument. Dr. Gillen arrives and, by way of introducing the world famous Stone Alexander (who, according to the story, hardly needs an introduction!), says, "Chairman Alexander is a reasonable man: A giver, not a taker!"
This elicits miraculously positive response among the assembled representatives.
"Oh! Alexander is a GIVER, Not a TAKER!" they murmur among themselves admiringly. And all are suddenly smiling and willing to listen (he is going to give us something if we'll just shut-up and listen! Cool!).
Two news commentators are discussing the pros and cons of the method Alexander uses to unite the world. Both are at opposite ends of the conversation but the debate goes like this:
Commentator 1: "The World Union is still a democracy, just on a broader level!"
On Stone's computer the Bible Code program runs. Around and around on the screen the Hebrew text of the Bible spins, twisting around like the current model of the DNA double helix. To quickly introduce Alexander's advances, a printer pops out pithy fortune cookie statements.
News reports quickly encapsulate events brought about by Alexander. He gives away his inventions of Power Bars and desalinization plants; he invents a "revolutionary new technology" that "neutralizes atomic weaponry".
So ... who is going to buy it? What country that spent a fortune on building nukes is going to use it? (At this point my brain is hurting - pain where no sensory nerves exist!).
After years by Alexander's side, Stone is having whacked out visions. All quick cut rapid, none make any sense, and none are scary.
In fact, Stone Alexander, as the embodiment of Satan (this is an apocalyptic tale so you should already KNOW that), is never scary at all. There is never any sense of the evil with him.
Michael York plays Stone up as a shallow, buoyant popinjay. No shadow of evil ever creases his features, not even when he becomes fully possessed. Ironside is the center of evil in this flick, just because he's that good of an actor. As such, he totally defuses every scene he shares with York, stealing the threat of York's character (Satan's pawn) making Michael's character thin and undeveloped. We never fear for the machinations of the devil and are more worried about his underling.
"You said I would be the prophet!"
In the middle of the movie, Dr. Stone Alexander is killed (only to be returned to life in accordance with Biblical prophecy in the books of the Apocalypse). So Stone is dead, in the hospital bed. We see the world in mourning. We see religions everywhere (except the Protestant ones) start worshipping a portrait of Stone. We see the world changed everywhere because of his death. Lots of funeral services and processions held world wide. Surely days have passed, right? Yet Stone remains in his hospital bed, unburied, and STILL attached to the heart machine! (?!?!?)
There is also the incongruity of where Stone was shot. Because this is one of the pivotal plot points, it stands out like a sore thumb when the director seemingly forgets where Stone was supposed to be hit. He was supposedly shot in the forehead and this is referenced several times. When we see him shot, he grabs his forehead and falls. Then, when he is on the floor, his forehead is unblemished, and he is bleeding from the back of his neck. So the scenes that are supposed to chill us, such as after Stone returns to life*, removes his bandages and feels for the wound that is gone from his forehead - seemingly miraculously healed - make no sense because earlier shots didn't have him getting hit there in the first place! In several key scenes he refers to the wound that was on his forehead, then later it's his neck, then his forehead, neck, forehead, neck, etc.
*and if you think that's a spoiler then you were surprised, watching TITANIC, when the boat hit an iceberg.
A scene of soldier's POV looking through infra red night vision goggles (we see what they see in green), keeps cutting back to the soldiers wearing the goggles up over their foreheads and looking at everything with their un-aided eyes. ARGH! No good direction, no decent editing, and no sense of continuity here! Lots of films have mistakes that you really have to watch to catch, but all of these jump right out at you.
There are stand out performances here. Michael Ironside will never win an Oscar, but he is a fine character actor who often outshines the star of the film - probably a reason why he rarely gets work in major studio releases. Another cult fan favorite, William Hootkins (FLASH GORDON, GOSPA, DEATH MACHINE, THE BREED) brings grave seriousness to his role as Sir Percival Lloyd (Bill loves to imitate notable actors and in this one, he does a great imitation of Orson Wells! Ya gotta love it!).
Jan Triska (APT PUPIL) and Gregory Wagrowski are excellent as the prophets sent by God to speak his message during Satan's reign.
Robert Ito (THE TERMINAL MAN) as Simoro Lin Che isn't given much of a chance to do anything. In fact, no one who isn't white or Jewish is given a chance to do squat. In this film the words were written for, and propelled by, Caucasians and Semites only. Everyone else is just along for the ride.
So much is so very poor with this film.
The most miraculous or scariest, or wickedest parts of the Apocalypse are either ignored:
~ Or glossed over lightly:
~ Or thrown into the mix without regard to context at all:
Though THE OMEGA CODE only cost around 6 or 8 million to make (cheap by today's standards) it is ultimately the performance by the main actors, the direction of Robert Marcarelli and the story/screenplay (co-writers Stephen Blinn: MEGIDDO:The Omega Code 2 [also associate producer], Hollis Barton, and Hal Lindsey) that severs this film at the knees. If it's not scary, why should we care?
If you want a far more entertaining time I'd recommend actually reading the Apocalypse in the Bible (of which the movie has very little relation), not watching THE OMEGA CODE. The book is way better than the movie.
THE OMEGA CODE gets one Shriek Girl. KILL IT BEFORE IT BREEDS!
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