THERE are good movies and bad movies. Then there are good bad movies – films which are so hokey, so clunky, so hopelessly inept that they attract a cult following.
There are also bad bad movies – films that haven’t got a single good thing going for them and which, in the cold light of day, beg the question of how they ever got made in the first place. Revelation is a bad bad movie.
It represents a bizarre little entry in that narrow genre – a Q-grade horror flick with an array of top names like Terence Stamp and Sir Derek Jacobi (note I use his knighthood; shame on you, sirrah!) slumming it for laughs.
This utterly hamfisted hybrid of Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Omen and schlock dross like Tombs of the Blind Dead is truly awful – an old-fashioned throwback to ‘60s and ‘70s films by people like Michael Reeves and Paul Morrissey that shouts TURKEY! almost from the moment the opening titles have faded.
The story spans the centuries and concerns a bloody band of Knights Templar whose leader is immortal and plans to continue his reign of terror while seeking to clone himself. Convoluted, drenched in history and suffering from an excess of highbrow aspirations, Revelation implodes due to its implausibility and surfeit of subplots.
Yet amidst all of this nonsense exists the hope of decent performances. Stamp, as a shady billionaire, brings a much-needed gravitas to a lacklustre picture in what is, in truth, an extended cameo. Udo Kier as the demonic Templar Grand Master displays the sort of cold-eyed Teutonic evil that has long made him a cult figure.
Even Jacobi puts in something akin to a performance as a librarian, while lissom leading lady Natasha Wightman distracts the eye from much of the muddled madness of screen. James D’Arcy, the hero of the piece is, however, hopelessly wooden as Stamp’s son and the man on the run from Kier and his cohorts.
One has to wonder whether, in truth, anyone could make sense of the atrocious script (by writer/director Stuart Urban). Even the lashings of gore – and the special effects are pretty good – can’t disguise the fact that this is one prize dog of a picture.
Producer Jonathan Woolf made Revelation to resurrect Romulus Films, the company behind The African Queen, Oliver! and The Odessa File. Those films were made by his uncle, Sir James Woolf; this one looks like a bunch of rich kids having fun with a lot of cash. It’s truly a disaster.