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Idol of Evil: Hell Is Forever

Other // Unrated // April 19, 2011
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bill Gibron | posted June 17, 2011 | E-mail the Author
The Product:
If you're going to steal, why not steal from the best? Put another way, if you don't have an original idea, and enough time has passed since your proposed source last saw a cinema, you might be able to get away with playing copycat. Well, the makers of Idol of Evil have decided to go for the gold in this category and are out to channel none other than Steven Spielberg and his classic 1981 monster Raiders of the Lost Ark. Of course, there are two massive pitfalls with wandering into the territory of Dr. Indiana Jones. First, no matter the budget or the bravado, few can imitate Mr. Summer Blockbuster himself. Spielberg is just untouchable in this category. Second, it's beyond silly to think you can better that matinee serial throwback. All you can really hope for is to mimic the amazing narrative drive and daunting derring-do on display. In the case of this talky trip into the English countryside, neither scenario is successful. From the near note for note reproduction of Raider's plot to the substantial lack of spectacle, this is not the sincerest form of flattery. Instead, it's a cinematic felony.

The Plot:
When a colleague goes missing while on the hunt for the fabled Eye of Kali, Dr. David Hilton is called in by members of a shadow church group to help locate the lost scientist - and his archeological prize. Apparently, our brash young hero is an expert on mythology and he understands the significance of the gemstone, as well as a secondary talisman (a haunted skull) needed to bring Satan's wrath down (or is it up???) upon an innocent Earth. Heading to his associate's wife, he learns of a map, a legend, and a secret cabal trying to control both. As he gets closer to the source of ultimate evil, Indiana Hilton - sorry, Dr. Hilton - soon discovers that he's in way over his head. Aside from the various goons trying to kill him, there may be another, more important party interested in this item and they will apparently stop at nothing - including poorly staged fight scenes - to get it.

The DVD:
Who, in their right mind, decides that the best way to break into the relatively welcoming independent horror film market is to recreate Raiders of the Lost Ark, beat for near beat? Better yet, who does it for a thousand pounds British sterling and a couple of crates of Watney's Red Barrel? It takes a while before it completely sinks in (thanks to a lack of an opening action sequence) and its stunning when you finally figure it out, but this is indeed a tacky tween retelling of the famed excursion for the lost Ark of the Covenant - except in this case, the resting place for the Ten Commandments is replaced by a purple gemstone and a rotting skull, the bad guys aren't Nazis but rogue devil worshippers inside the Vatican, and Belloq is replaced by a blond himbo who hulks around the UK hillsides, looking bored. Completely the cycle of shame, Indiana Jones is now a spunky little douche with an attitude problem and limited upper body strength, Marion Ravewood becomes a bedhopping personal assistant, and the villainous Major Arnold Toht is a flamboyant 'priest' who dresses like a New Romantic and resembles a genetic crosspollination between the late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame.

The similarities don't stop there. Dr. Hilton is approached by two 'men in black' who talk to him about the Idol of Evil and the Eye of Kali, following almost word for word the Q&A that occurs between Dr. Jones and the FBI during Raiders' first act. Similarly, our hero has a map that he can't read, so he gets his incomprehensibly Irish (seriously, this man's accent is so thick it makes Brad Pitt's brogue in Snatch sound like a study in clarity) buddy to find a reader of ancient dialects to help him out. Wouldn't you know it, the baddies and their boys are...DIGGING IN THE WRONG PLACE!!! Sadly, there are no snakes around to bite these characters in the asp, but we do get a double cross, an attempted rescue, and a finale/ritual that sees people's heads exploding and the plan backfiring on all the evildoers (who knew old Pitch batted for the good guys???). All that's really missing is John Williams' epic score and a monkey munching on bad dates - oh, and all the talent and tenacity of the original cast and crew...let's not forget that.

All of which begs the question - why? Why mimic a master? Why try and coattail a well established mainstream movie legend? At least homemade horror filmmakers rip off junk like Friday the 13th. Few try and tread the carefully constructed waters of John Carpenter's own Hitchcock homage, Halloween? No, they understand their limits and play (sometimes successfully, one might add) within them. Here, co-writer/director Kevin McDonagh thinks he can get away with having no real action scenes, an incredibly static style, and endless scenes of people talking. Of course, if they had something interesting to say, we might enjoy the nonstop conversations. But the script, crafted with help from AJ Nicol, is a noxious combination of obvious beats and dorky nerd speak. There's no real characterization, just archetypes branded back before either of these two 'talents' were weaned. And then there's the lack of scope. Never before has the Satanic end of the world seemed so small and insignificant. Because of the lack of funds, everything is stunted. Even the gunplay typically ends with one character firing a piece with post-production muzzle flares adding "authenticity." Sadly, none of this can save Idol of Evil. It's just a bad idea from start to flaccid finish.

The Video:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If Chemical Burn does send a final product version of Idol of Evil to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Audio:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If Chemical Burn does send a final product version of Idol of Evil to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Extras:
None. Easy enough.

Final Thoughts:
A few years back, the web was awash in stories about a '80s era "adaptation" of Raiders of the Lost Ark created by a bunch of teenage fans and their camcorder. Crude, creative, and incredibly accurate, it argued that mimicry could be the source of its own artistic importance. With Idol of Evil, what's clear is that imitation is also the quickest way to highlight your hackneyed limitations. Earning an obvious Skip It this movie makes a mockery of everything the Indiana Jones style action effort stands for. Again, there is nothing really wrong with using Spielberg and his specialized talent as a frame of filmmaking reference. Taking Raiders and merely changing the names, locations, and logistics is not a good way to show your aesthetic appreciation.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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