FILMS… The Chosen / Rain of Fire / Holocaust 2000 (1977)

#1970s

 

The writing is on the wall for a horror film of English-Italian operatic origins…

 

In the latest of so bonkers, they are good series, I was recommended the travesty that is touted as an English-Italian The Omen homage or ripoff. You decide.

 

The Chosen (1977) – Trailer HD 1080p, Grindhouse Movie Trailers

When it comes to movies and TV, I’ve always loved learning how their titles translate into other languages. This was after learning that Falling Down (1993) is Rankka Päivä in Finnish, which translates as A Rough Day. On first impressions, this description kind of misses the mark totally. This is when you remember it’s about a Michael Douglas character –  possibly with the same hairdresser as Thor in Thor 3; Ragnarok (2017) – going on a first-person shooting spree en route to his wee daughter’s birthday party. So when you think about it, the Finnish title kinda makes more sense than the original title.

The Finnish film site, Videospace has a helpful list of these international translations for every movie. So for fun. I looked up the alternately ominous / superhero themed / WTF titles for this film – to be reviewed – which is  Holocaust 2000 / The Chosen / Rain of Fire (1977). I discovered there is the bizarre Norwegian title Fem minutter i tolv  (5 minutes to 12) and in Germany, the more beguiling, Das siebenköpfige Ungeheuer (The Seven Headed Monster). There are also 2 Greek titles, Ο τυχοδιώκτης της Κολάσεως which apparently translates as The Hell Adventurer.. or the infinitely scarier, Το σπέρμα του Σατανά (Satan’s Seed).

Anyway on with the review… for a film described by

Taking up this challenge, in a crazy family casting, that was emulated as a possible in-joke in The Colbys (1985-87), terribly English Simon Ward plays all-American Kirk Douglas and even more terribly English Virginia McKenna’s son, Angel. Back to The Colbys, where Illinois-born Charlton Heston and Barnet-born Stephanie Beacham as Jason and Sable Colby produced the flawlessly English, Miles (Maxwell Caulfield). More bizarrely, Caulfield’s on-screen twin sister Monica (Tracy Scoggins) is American as they come. And in another Italian movie, Roger Moore was cast as a Sicilian born character in Street People (1976), I kid you not… just watch this space.

For some reason, The Chosen etc etc wasn’t discovered for over 5 decades. It was recommended to me by a fellow entertainment blogger (extraordinaire), who knows I like bat shit crazy films… At least I think that’s what he was saying with his comment here…

It’s very clear from your writing that you are an ideal viewer for Holocaust 2000, and I mean that most sincerely.

This blogger is a fellow Scot, who I bonded with after we both agreed that Derek Jacobi was Noel Edmonds’ doppelganger in The Medusa Touch (1978).

Now on with the review… the Ennio Morricone (!) opening operatic score is accompanied by pretty tasteless shots of explosions intercut with starving people and dying children. Then we cut to an orange helicopter – and this is not an Irwin Allen rip-off – as a craggy-looking Kirk Douglas as Michael Robert Caine raves about his new venture to solve the energy crisis. He tells the Middle Eastern Prime Minister (Ivo Garrani) that he plans to flatten the hills below them and then build a thermo-nuclear plant next to the coast, as he adds enthusiastically,

“we will get heat by the fusion of atoms with laser beams. And when we’re in operation, we’ll supply electricity for this entire third-world area. Just think, up to now temperatures like 300 million degrees can be found only at the center of the sun…”

He is contradicted by Sara (Agostina Belli), a pretty brunette press attache who stresses this heat can also be found at the centre of a hydrogen-bomb explosion.. and then the manly 70s men ignore her. Then after they land, Robert takes Sara to a cave – sound familiar – where he shows her an old carving, with IESUS written on the cave wall. He mansplains this as the Roman for Jesus. Sara chillingly adds this cave was believed to be where a prophet foresaw the end of the world and…

It speaks of a monster with seven heads and 10 horns. And on the 10 horns, 10 crowns. It rises from the sea and destroys mankind…

Robert then poses for some photos for Sara, with a spooky red filter appearing.. then disappearing. Then Robert blows up the cave, and his plans are given the OK by the Prime Minister.

Then we cut to some protesters, with placards aloft chanting, “What do our children want to be when they grow up? Alive!”. The Middle Eastern Prime Minister visits Robert and his family, and it’s a black-tie event. Robert and his wife, Eva (Virginia McKenna) are holding this do, and the Caines seem to have a frosty relationship.

Eva is more than niggled when various 1970s hot babes coo over her craggy husband. She also seems to actively dislike their son, the blond blue-eyed boy Angel (Simon Ward). Angel is a handsome and boyish man but he still gets a telling off from his mum for wearing a beige suit that wouldn’t look out of place in The Great Gatsby (2013).

Eva finally corners her husband and they fight in loud whispers as she wants to scrap the thermo-nuclear plant idea. She has quite reasonable concerns about what was once her daddy’s company causing the end of the world. Outside a tuxedo-wearing assassin (Massimo Foschi) heads towards the Caines’ party. He tries to attack Robert with a knife, but Angel turns the knife mid-air and it plunges into Eva instead.. and she dies.

At her smoke machine filled foggy funeral, Angel feels he killed his mother but is reassured by his father for saving his life as it’s what his mother would have wanted. Sara appears from nowhere –  as for plot convenience, she is on a government mission for her country –  and she shows Robert a photograph of a carving that appeared as she was taking photos of him in the cave. It looks vaguely like Caine’s thermo-nuclear plant design but instead it has cute monster faces…

Meanwhile, Angel wants to get a job with his dad, as Angel is totally for this project. Angel tells his dad Robert that the Middle Eastern Prime Minister lost the election so they need new backing. But he wants to get his old Nobel Prize-winning tutor, Professor Ernst Mayer (Alexander Knox) involved as he is advocating the safety of this project.

Robert flies off to meet the man who murdered his wife, who is incarcerated in a (rather jazzy) mental health unit. He is locked in a room with this man, who warns Robert that “he is the origin of evil” and that “from your seed comes evil”. He is then attacked by this man but Robert fights back and wins.

On the plane, as Robert studies the IESUS text, a man in the seat in front of him becomes interested in this note saying it looks like 2√231 backwards. This man, Monsignor Charrier (Romolo Valli) is revealed as a priest. Later, over brandy and cigars, he tells Robert this code means that the Antichrist is due to return or is already living… and is a second son. He spookily tells him that 2√231 is important as it means the Antichrist… who will have 21 followers… Then Charrier shows Robert a picture of the monster of the apocalypse which looks like the one in the cave.

Meanwhile, things get more than spooky as the new Middle Eastern Prime Minister, Harbin (Spiros Focás) opposes the plant and then he has the top of his head lopped off in a freak helicopter accident. Then Angel’s tutor disappears then reappears then after withdrawing his support for the project dies suspiciously.

But turning slowly to the bright side, there are more charming events. Robert’s science guy Griffiths (Anthony Quayle) laughs his head off saying that 2√231 does not mean anything… in a comment that he may certainly regret saying. There is also romance, as Robert and Sara start dating Disney / whimsical style as he takes her to his getaway for lunch. The grounds of his wee cottage come complete with a faun, and we see them feeding a faun in an idyllic montage and sappy music… and they later move in together.

All is good when they announce their love to Angel. Then Sara announces to these two men she is pregnant. Angel is happy for a wee brother as his twin brother was strangled in their mother’s womb as a baby. But for Robert, his nightmare begins as he has doubts about his thermo-nuclear plant and the true identity of his future child…

This is a well thought out, beautifully written and inventive English-Italian horror movie which I adored in every way. The cast is as prevalent as the never-ending British thespian cast list of My Week With Marilyn (2011). The Chosen boasts Kirk Douglas, Simon Ward and Anthony Quayle in main roles… and are supported by Virginia McKenna, Geoffrey Keen, Dennis Lawson and Caroline Langrishe.

The horror in the script had more convincing death scenes than in Damien: Omen II (1978). Admittedly, like this film, they do now look more amusing now. But they were brilliantly executed with no pun intended for the on-screen death of the Prime Minister.

The animated seven-headed monster was also fantastically visualised but more like a Ray Harryhausen creation crossed with a Rick and Morty (2012) themed monster, than something to be afraid of. But this monster does turn more chilling when cut shots have it superimposed on the model and painting of Robert’s intended thermo-nuclear plant.

This now cult classic had reportedly two different endings and has made it to the top of my list of great 70s horrors. Even Helmut Berger as Dorian Gray pales in comparison in Dorian Gray / The Secret of Dorian Gray (1970). The English totty that is Simon Ward is a treat as Angel with his fantastic casting in this film. This came shortly after he tried to lull us into believing he was a decent guy in another British must-watch movie, Deadly Strangers (1975). In both films, he seems a nice guy, but do watch to see if he is as angelic as his name suggests.

Kirk Douglas is as weathered looking as William Holden was in Fedora (1978). As the always fantastic read, Ken from Dreams are What Le Cinema is For said regarding Holden HERE

…while scenes of his running or kicking down doors had me more preoccupied with his health than the plot…

In this now reviewed film, may have your heart in your mouth and feel anxious in Kirk Douglas’ running scenes. Also, his love-making scenes with the considerably younger love interest make you feel a wee bit apprehensive.

But it is his nightmare about the thermo-nuclear plant that steals the movie… and is a montage of everything I have told you as it really is the stuff that nightmares are made of… If you look carefully you’ll see the faun scene and as it predominately has Kirk Douglas and Agostina Belli in the nude… this video is age restricted.

ANTICHRIST ARMAGEDDON / Holocaust 2000 (1977), I am in a Cult

Finally, the most surprising thing about this film is the Finnish title of Terrori 2000. This surprised me as I expected it to be as lengthy as the longest Finnish word, “pyyhkäisyelektronimikroskooppi” (which means a “scanning electron microscope.”) as a good Finnish friend told me. She reinforced this word is before the case endings are added.

But with this title, it seems that the Finns hit the nail on the head once again with the title for this film about the terror of one, Michael Robert Caine. As the translation from Finnish, this title gets to the point in a direct and honest kind of way as Terrori 2000  is translated to Terror 2000, but not a lot of people know that…

 

Weeper Rating: 😦😦  😦 😦 /10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎mrgreen  ‎/10

 


The 9th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon 2022, No 18

This film was added to the 9th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon. Other reviews with this cast include Kirk Douglas in Tales from the Crypt The Fury and mentioned in Patricia Neal, An Unquiet Life by Stephen Michael Shearer: 2021 (Audiobook). Simon Ward in Deadly Strangers and Dominique / Dominique is Dead. Anthony Quayle in Anne of the Thousand Days, Murder By Decree, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Eagle Has Landed and Tales of the Unexpected. Geoffrey Keen in more than a few James Bond Movies. Caroline Langrishe in Hammer House of Horror and Lovejoy. Denis Lawson in Star Wars.


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16 thoughts on “FILMS… The Chosen / Rain of Fire / Holocaust 2000 (1977)

  1. Hi Gill! From the IMDb resume, this was the start of a mini-boom of relatively big-budget sci-fi/horror movies for Douglas in the late ’70s – early ’80s, including The Fury, Saturn 3 and ending with The Final Countdown. Your discussion of the various translated titles is interesting — I didn’t recognize the film at first from the titles attached to the review, but after reading it I’m sure I caught this (or at least parts of it) a long time ago. And like you, I’m also intrigued by casting decisions on international productions that try to convince you that, sure, Simon Ward is entirely believable as Kirk Douglas’ son! Yeah, right… I see that Holocaust 2000 is available here in the States on Freevee. Yay!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I take full responsibility for the quality of the film. They had this on VHS in my local video shop. I grew up with it as a constant companion and guide to life. By any title, I think we can all learn a lesson from this, which is don’t let your agent talk you into sci-fi occult economic Armageddon family dramas. You capture the many moods of the film admirably; hopefully we will be selected for the Criterion commentary.

    Does the title Stridulum mean anything to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It most certainly does, and it’s alternate name The Visitor features in two of my reviews.. so hit the search button to discover all. Another of these great underrated Italian movies and that soundtrack one of the best. Forgot to mention it’s probably 1st Equal with Helmut. And I take it you’ve seen Starcrash.. with Christopher Plummer, the Hoff….

      Like

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