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Idol of Evil: Hell Is Forever
One supposes that an archeologist investigating a shadowy occult group that may or may not have kidnapped and killed his friend and mentor could make for a pretty snappy storyline. Unfortunately, Idol of Evil lacks the pizzazz and attitude necessary for a low budget film to succeed, especially in the horror / action genres.
David (Richard Cambridge) is the aforementioned archeologist, who works for the generically named London Research Center. He's a bit of a card, and his playful hijinks get him suspended for two weeks, with nothing to do but mope. Luckily, two priests straight from the Vatican (though oddly not wearing Roman collars) approach him with a job offer. He's asked to track down the evil Eye of Kali, apparently some token of devilish power that evil King Ellendon used to lay about with back in the fourth century. Supposedly, if one could ever bring together Ellendon's skull and the Eye of Kali, the possessor would have some sort of ultimate power. David's old pal Professor Kixley was the expert on the subject, but he's vanished, and a highly organized devil worshipping cult is suspected.
Of course, David accepts the challenge to track down the skull and the Eye before the diabolists do, with much aid from Kixley's research assistant Lucy (Stephanie Elliott) and his old friend and digger Jack (Neil Forrester). The trio face off against somewhat more wicked digger Nixon (Adrian Bouchet) and evil priest Father Calvert (Eley Furrell), who also doesn't bother to wear the Roman collar. One suspects that the extra expense to the costume department prohibited it. And that's one of the big problems with this film. They didn't seem to have money for anything. We rarely see guns actually fired, though we hear them just off screen a lot, and when we do see them, the muzzle blasts are low quality CG. The effects generally are poor, and the score is annoying, at times even stooping to synth.
All this can be forgiven in a low budget film with the appropriate zest, and which understands its limitations. But Idol of Evil has no concept of what it can do well and what it can't. It's trying to be a straight on action / horror film, but the fight scenes are awkward and stagey, and no sense of tension or dread is ever developed. The performances are okay, but not spectacular. The story often doesn't make much sense either. For instance, what is the idol referenced in the title, and mentioned several times in the film? The Eye of Kali is just a marble sized gemstone, and doesn't seem to fit the bill. The skull is... well, it's just a skull, buried in the mud and undecorated. There are also a lot of small inconsistencies, such as Calvert telling Nixon to kill someone, bullying him into it really, and then going ahead and doing it himself with no explanation. Why did he go to all that trouble to coerce Nixon into doing it?
All of this adds up to a mediocre film, with a tired storyline and enough annoying little faults and missteps that it can't be salvaged. Skip it.
The image is presented in what appears to be 2.8:1 widescreen, but looks average at best. There's a lot of muddiness and shadow. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and is also only fair. The dialogue is mostly audible, though there are a few murky moments. The lack of subtitles exacerbates this. No alternate language track is included. Also, there are several minutes at the end of the film with sound but no video, followed by the video with no sound. This is probably a problem with the manufacture of the disc. However, since this review is based on a check disc, no comment can be made on the quality of the final product, or whether this same problem occurs there.
No extras are included. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quantity or quality of the extras on the final product.
While Idol of Evil does have a few good points, the performances of Richard Cambridge and Stephanie Elliott among them, these are not nearly enough to overcome the awkwardness and confusion of the rest of the film. It hoped to rise above its station, but could not. Bad effects, bad fight choreography, and a weak story doom it to failure.