MegiddoOne of the most ambitious evangelical films of the 00’s, although that doesn’t mean it’s any better than its fellows. MEGIDDO is in fact a royal crap fest, and inexcusably shitty even by traditional evangelical movie standards.

THE OMEGA CODE, a thoroughly mediocre glorified TV movie, was a surprise success on the Evangelical movie circuit in 1999. A sequel was inevitable, and MEGIDDO: THE OMEGA CODE 2 turned up in 2001. It had a $22 million budget, a princely sum for an evangelical production, and opened in the US a week after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Producer Matthew Crouch (the son of televangelist Paul Crouch, who bankrolled the film) stated to the Los Angeles Times that MEGIDDO’S release was part of God’s plan—“He positioned this film to be the answer for a question we didn’t even know would be asked”—and invoked the cinema of Cecil B. DeMille (an interesting comparison, as DeMille was notorious in his day for churning out exploitive biblical themed dramas). MEGIDDO’S box office, however, topped out at around $6 million, a sorry take for a supposedly divinely-ordained flick.

MEGIDDO did, at least, spawn an enjoyable making-of diary by its star Michael York, which is far preferable to the film itself.

We meet the suave English accented Stone Alexander, a.k.a. the devil. An extended flashback shows how Stone grew up in a military academy, where his media mogul father consigned Stone after he tried to immolate his infant brother David. Years later Stone kills his father by pushing him off a balcony.

Cut to the present, where Stone has ordained himself the leader of the “World Union.” Opposing him is the president of the United States, together with his loyal vice president, who happens to be Stone’s little bro David. When the president turns down an invitation to join the World Union Stone telepathically induces a fatal heart attack. This makes David the president, and as such he continues to resist his brother’s entreaties.

This doesn’t stop Stone from carrying out his evil plans, getting the world’s leaders to rally behind him by inducing mass destruction throughout the planet. David is forced out of the presidency by an informal coup d’etat, staged by outraged congressmen who want to join Stone’s crusade.

David retaliates by spearheading a bombing raid on Stone’s headquarters, but the raid fails. A worldwide manhunt is launched for David, who becomes a messiah for those who don’t want to follow Stone. It all comes down to a final showdown in Megiddo, where Stone reveals his true guise and the Big G finally gets into the act.

MEGIDDO’S cast is a cult movie lover’s wet dream: in addition to Michael York, a returnee from THE OMEGA CODE, there’s THE TERMINATOR’S Michael Biehn, FULL METAL JACKET’S R. Lee Ermey, Udo Kier and Franco Nero, while the credited director is Australia’s Brian Trenchard-Smith (who was replaced by Paul J. Lombardi), of the cult classics THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, ESCAPE 2000 and DEAD-END DRIVE-IN. All were admittedly at low points in their careers, and only York makes any real impression as Stone/Satan—and that impression is not a positive one!

The idea of making Satan the film’s protagonist is audacious, albeit not without precedent. John Milton did the same thing in PARADISE LOST back in 1667, and this film suffers from the same overall problem that plagued that tome: we find ourselves rooting for this evil character in spite of ourselves. Of course, MEGIDDO has plenty of problems that didn’t plague Milton, including poor special effects, indifferent performances and an overall air of TV movie crappiness.

In common with most evangelical movies, MEGIDDO is stodgy and uninspired from a cinematic standpoint, with religious convictions that are shallow and simplistic. The same can be said for the overall narrative, and also the special effects, which over-rely on substandard CGI. Even the concluding wrath-of-god sequence is substandard, being evidently “inspired” by the climax of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, which was and remains far more impressive than what we see here.

I will at least say this about MEGIDDO: cosmically asinine though it is, it’s still better than THE OMEGA CODE.

Vital Statistics

TBN Productions

Directors: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Paul J. Lombardi
Producers: Matthew Crouch, Lawrence Mortoroff, Richard J. Cook
Screenplay: John Fasano, Stephen Blinn
Cinematography: Bert Dunk
Editing: John Lafferty
Cast: Michael York, Michael Biehn, Diane Venora, R. Lee Ermey, Jim Meltzer, Noah Huntley, Michal Paul Chan, Udo Kier, Franco Nero, Gil Colon, David Hedison