[VIDEO REVIEWS]For Religious Horror Films, Terror Is Holy

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[VIDEO REVIEWS]For Religious Horror Films, Terror Is Holy

Faith, nuns, priests, convents and the netherworld. Some directors view these as a ghoulish mixture for horror. A recent film, "The Convent," takes place in an abandoned religious site. Right before prom night, a high school student finds out too late that a coven of Satan worshippers has unholy motives for the building.

Hollywood churned out a batch of religious horror films at the end of the millennium. Most were duds, but those who have a low tolerance for fear may want to check under the sofa and behind the curtains and lock the doors before watching these flicks.



STIGMATA (1999)

Directed by Rupert Wainwright. Starring Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne and Jonathan Pryce.

Cardinal Vignielli (Pryce) sends the Vatican's own "X-Files" detectives, a brooding Jesuit priest, Andrew Kiernan (Byrne), around the world to investigate miracles and mysteries. Father Kiernan visits a church in Brazil where a priest, viewed as a saint, has died.

Later, in the United States, Frankie Paige (Arquette), comes home after a wild night out. She suffers seizures and hallucinations and nearly bleeds to death when two deep gashes appear on her wrists. Paige starts to speak in tongues and scribble in ancient Aramaic as wounds keep appearing on her body.

By the time Father Kiernan tracks her down, it is obvious dark forces are in play. Father Kiernan believes Paige is possessed by the spirit of the dead priest, who is trying to deliver a message that Jesus Christ is coming back. But evil powers within the Vatican are trying to suppress her message.

The movie received poor press from the Catholic League. After decrying the film as a "political attack on the Catholic church," the organization issued a statement saying, "The good news is that there only exists a small audience for such an exploitative film, and all the hype and technical effects in the world can do nothing to redeem this bomb of a movie."

END OF DAYS (1999)

Directed by Peter Hyams. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollack, Robin Tunney, Miriam Margolyes and Udo Kier.

When Christine York (Tunney) was born, a nurse snatched her from her mother. The nurse took the baby into an elevator with a red arrow pointing DOWN. At basement level, a strange group led by a mysterious man (Kier) christened the babe with snake blood and sent her back upstairs to grow up into a vessel for Satan.

Ever since, York has been raised by a devil-worshipping stepmother (Margolyes) in a gothic, upper West Side brownstone and spoon-fed Xanax for her strange visions by someone she thinks is a shrink (Kier).

Enter Arnie and the dark atmosphere disintegrates. Schwarzenegger is Jericho Cane, a New York city cop turned alcoholic and suicidal muscle-for-hire since the murder of his wife and child. He discovers that Satan (Byrne) is roaming New York at the last days of 1999, looking for York. Cane is the only one who can save York from bearing Satan's child and unleashing Armageddon.



by Joe Yong-hee

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