Here’s something the whole family can enjoy this holiday season. No, it doesn’t have a grown man running around in an elf costume. Nor does it have a kid jonesing for a BB-gun or anyone named Griswold. In fact, this movie’s got nothing at all to do with Christmas, or any other Christian holiday. But imagine how much fun it would be to see Uncle Tom and Aunt Bertie turning various shades of pale while watching a demonically possessed dude rip out the guts of a young Satanic priestess. Good times! Yes, I plan to turn “The Holy Terror” into a time-honored holiday classic. Of course, I might as well look for a new family while I’m at it.
“The Holy Terror” is one of those geeky paranoid comic-book thrillers I want to like even though I know I’ve outgrown its type, or should have. Robert Harvick is Glenn, an average Joe who may be possessed by a demon. Not just any old demon, mind you, but the one who once nearly kicked Satan’s sorry a*s out of Hell. Yeah, this demon was a real bad mo-fo, but he was also dumb enough to let Satan, that old trickster, snooker him into eternal banishment. And to the lowest depths of Hell, no less! Now here we are in the 21st century and this demon, named Orphael, has been reborn within Glenn and is dusting off plans to enslave both Heaven and Hell. Poor Glenn has no idea, until Catholic assassins start popping up, along with a mysterious stranger (Miles Beardsley Banwell) claiming to be a “friend of the family”. Even Glenn’s best friend Charlie (Brendan McNamara) starts acting weird, giving his ailing bud herbal tea, of all things. Desperate and completely freaked-out by this strange turn of events, which includes an unholy growth on his elbow and voices in his head, Glenn eventually turns to the obligatory wise old professor for help. Professor Krekic (Oto Brazina), the obligatory wise old professor, acts like he sees this kind of thing all the time and urges the tortured Glenn, in his heavily accented baritone, to find the altar on which the demon was invited and destroy it, before all un-Hell breaks loose. Professor Krekic summarily meets a most unfortunate end, no pun intended.
“The Holy Terror” was written, produced, edited, photographed, and directed by Augustine Arredondo, who apparently got the idea for the film after drinking lots of whiskey and watching Iglesia’s “Day of the Beast”. That was one goofy film and I loved nearly every brilliant minute of it. Between that and the whiskey, Arredondo clearly has good taste in his influences. But what he lacks is the Iglesia wit, healthy sense of anarchy, and budget. Arredondo’s film, his first, is stylish and fun and features a wicked soundscape by Sound Ideas. It also showcases a nice little turn by Harvick, who can demonically brood with the best of them. Yet for all that, the film loses points with this critic for playing things too straight and for being (extremely) gory for gory’s sake. (You can almost hear Arredondo breathlessly exclaim, “Look Ma, no hands! Seriously!”) I like the wild-a*s premise, again in a guilty kind of way, of a “regular” guy wanted by both Christians and Satanists alike, for their own diabolical machinations. I just wish Arredondo would have lightened up some with the unpleasant, requisite gore and mined the material for its obvious comic gold, especially after being influenced by Iglesia, an under-appreciated genius in these matters. He may have sputtered out of the gate with this one, but I’m still looking forward to what Arredondo does next. In any case, he’s given my family a new holiday classic, they just don’t know it yet, hee hee hee!