Sunday, December 1, 2013

Look On My Works Ye Mighty And Despair

I just saw that televangelist Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcast Network (seen here with wife Jan and a wig she made by skinning and dyeing the pelt of Cousin Itt*) has died at the age of 79.
As readers of Better Living Through Bad Movies know, my life has been deeply touched by Paul Couch, or at least by the crappy thriller he made in an attempt to turn TBN into a movie studio, and so, as a lame excuse to recycle material in loving tribute to Mr. Couch, here's our review of his most celebrated film:

The Omega Code (1999)
Directed by: Robert Marcarelli
Written by: Stephan Blinn and Hollis Barton

Tagline: “Not just a movie…It’s a miracle!”

According to the opening title card of this miracle, “Scholars seek ‘The Bible Code,’ a mathematical phenomenon whose hidden messages are said to contain the whole of human history.” Give or take the last two thousand years, that is. A few other title cards follow, but basically, the movie’s premise is this: Like Playstation 2 games, the bible contains Easter eggs. Such as the “Key to Jerusalem,” which brings ultimate power, for whosoever controls Jerusalem in the end days shall control the world, and get power-ups and extra ammo.

Our miracle opens in Jerusalem, where an elderly rabbi is doing some sort of Hebrew Junior Jumble. Suddenly, Michael Ironside shows up with the most unconvincing beard since Lisa Marie Presley, and shoots the old man. He swipes a CD-ROM, but his escape is hampered by Siegfried and Roy, who keep bi-locating around corners until it makes everybody nauseous.

Cut to an infomercial set, where Casper the Friendly van Dien (the poor man’s Troy Donohue) has arrived to discuss the Bible Code. After introducing the spellbound audience to a revolutionary hair care regimen, he announces that the bible contains a secret crossword puzzle that foretells the future. Using advanced pink highlighter technology, Casper proves that the Torah predicted Hitler, the Kennedy assassinations, and Isaac Hayes’ Oscar for Shaft. Then he explains that the murdered rabbi believed the Bible was actually a holographic computer program! And that his shoelaces were actually mind-reading earthworms that could control his feet!

Anyway, it seems we’ve been reading the Bible wrong all these years, since it’s actually intended to be studied in three dimensions; which explains why the rabbi was wearing those paper glasses with the red and blue lenses.

Cut to Rome, where Michael York (the poor man’s Simon McCorkindale) has just been appointed “Chairman of the European Union.” Since the EU doesn’t have a chairman, it’s probably just something the Europeans told Michael so he’d go away. Meanwhile, the UN presents him with its highest humanitarian award, for single-handedly wiping out world hunger by inventing Pop-Tarts.

Back in LA, Casper’s marriage is in trouble, because he’s having “visions,” bouts of ecstatic imagery that some might call “hallucinations,” but others would call “lousy special effects.”

Meanwhile, some Russians are using computer technology to decode the Bible, distilling it into a series of cryptic phrases, such as “Ten Horns Unite World Peace,” “Houses of Isaac and Ishmael Torn in Terror,” and “April: Best Time to Buy a Great Pants Suit.”

The Russians blow up a papier-mâché model of the Dome of the Rock mosque, and Casper immediately rushes to Rome to help Michael revive the Roman empire, and to introduce Michael’s new line of formal housecoats for men.
Meanwhile, one of the Russians wimps out and tries to warn Casper about…something, but he’s gunned down by a unicycle-riding clown. Michael takes over the world (but in a nice way) and rebuilds the Solomonic Temple. Casper’s visions become clearer, and we begin to see that they’re actually home videos of the Sacramento Jaycees Haunted House.

Tired of playing second banana, Ironside shoots and kills Michael, but Michael really needs the work, so he comes back to life. Meanwhile, afraid that the audience won’t sufficiently recoil from Ironside just because he murdered a man in cold blood, the filmmakers suddenly decide that he’s a homosexual, too!
It doesn’t turn out to have anything to do with the story, but they felt better saying it.

Michael calls the leaders of the world to his bedside, where Sam from “Quincy” wants to know what it was like to be dead. Apparently, Michael’s answer goes over big, and the leaders appoint him King of the World, on the condition that he bring about a new Pax Romana, and doesn’t make a crappy movie about the Titanic.

The angels Siegfried and Roy reappear, and present Casper with the Final Code. Meanwhile, Michael’s coronation takes place inside the new Temple, which has been meticulously reconstructed, based on Old Testament accounts and archeological data, to resemble the ballroom of the Airport Holiday Inn in Burbank.

Michael is crowned King of the World, but when he declares himself god as well, there is a mighty uproar, and Siegfried and Roy must save all humanity by challenging Michael to a contest of overacting. They seem to have the upper hand, when they are suddenly shot dead by Ironside, who prefers a more understated performance style.

Casper is visited by some bad digital effects, which restore his faith, but nobody really cares. Meanwhile, Siegfried and Roy are raised from the dead, and promptly kill Ironside by giving him a bad case of hairballs.  Casper surrenders the Final Code to Michael in order to prevent further bloodshed, and another dull action sequence, and Michael enters it into the computer, thereby unlocking “the DNA of the Universe.” This act produces a violent lightstorm, which causes Satan to trip, and fall out of Michael’s body. The end.

*Spelling corrected via ifthethunderdontgetya


Fearguth said...

I'm going to miss Brother Crouch, in the same way I miss candy cigarettes.

J Neo Marvin said...

Are you sure that's not Pat Paulsen with gray hair?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I miss Cousin Itt.


grouchomarxist said...

Jan either has a freakishly small face on a monstrously huge head, or she's wearing a wig designed for a nine-foot-tall Farrah Fawcett imitator.

Scott said...

GM: An apt description. And honestly?...This shot is far from the worst wig she's ever worn. The more spectacular specimens are like waterfalls of frozen acrylic.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

She looks like a humanized version of Aunt Lil from Squidbillies made human. ...Sort of human.

The Omega Code and its sequel are just about the only off-brand* Evangapocalypse movies I can sit through, if only for the giggles. Heck, I can't even make it through an Al Hartley Archie comic without skipping pages. I suppose this means the Mark of the Beast is upon me.

I can't help feeling sorry for Casper. No, he can't act for shit, but he tries. York and Ironside had their days in the sun, but it's still sad to see them in this sort of grot.

*That is to say, not your standard Hollywood or European sleaze like The Omen or Holocaust 2000, which I can laugh my way through with ease and snacks.

Jim Donahue said...

"Cut to Rome, where Michael York (the poor man’s Simon McCorkindale) ..."

Ouch. I'm old enough to remember when it was the other way around.

Kathy said...

Reminds me of this character from the Japanese movie/series "Evangelicon" (name NOT an accident)

Daughter went to an Anime convention dressed as this character. Mom (me) almost had a conniption over the costume.

Kordo said...

"...the most unconvincing beard since Lisa Marie Presley"

You've still got It, brother. Always nice to read a pro at the top of their game. I've ruined more keyboards on this site than I can remember.

Thanks for making me laugh. I needed it today.

BB-Idaho said...

Look on my works ye mighty...
...and have a good laugh!

Scott said...

Thanks, Kordo. Glad to help.

Chris Vosburg said...

Re the wigstand Jan Crouch:

The pic doesn't quite capture the odd colors her wiggery usually consists of, usually pink or purple highlights, and consistently colors not found in nature.

Even weirder, I've seen pictures of her together with her small dogs, whom she often dyes to match her miracle acrylic hair.

Sociopathy, or just evangelism, who can say?

Chris Vosburg said...

Also, big fan of Michael Ironside, and don't know how he wound up in so many crappy movies.

Carl said...

I had an Omega code once, but I found it after the contest ended.

Stacia said...

Michael York (the poor man’s Simon McCorkindale)

Still a swift burn. Ouch.