Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday 6th December 2009: 666 Beware The End Is At Hand!

666: Beware The End Is At Hand

Nigeria 2007 colour

Director Ugo Ugbor

Cast Emeka Ani, Kenneth Okonkwo, Clem Ohameze, Fred Arico

Good evening, Schlock Fiends, and welcome to a new and festively appropriate month of Schlock Treatment. Tonight we say "Hooray for Nollywood...." That's Nollywood, as in Nigeria, one of the fastest-growing film cultures in the world, with the majority of their features shot on video, edited on PCs, burnt onto disc, and distributed to the four corners of the world. More than a few of Nigeria's films have a religious theme, reflecting their fundamentalist Christian persuasion, but no more so than tonight's film: a howling-at-the-moon Godsploitation horror film called 666: Beware The End Is At Hand (2007).

The film pitches our hero Pastor Lazarus into the End Times, in which the Kingdom of Darkness is taking over the world. And we've already seen proof : in the film's opening scenes, a kidnapped woman is given a makeshift Caesarian - not in the most sanitary of conditions, mind you - making one more foot soldier in the Army of Darkness. And what an Army! Hell looks like a disused gym lined with she-bitches and blue-screened flamed, and is crowned with Lucifer himself in all his eye-popping, trident waving vainglory. He sends his minions - all with "666" tattooed conveniently on their foreheads, just under their papier-mache horns - to get more souls for his tormenting flames. And they do, but in the most pointlessly protracted ways imaginable. One pays a prostitute to lick his leg wound at gunpoint, only for her to collapse in the street later coughing up blood. Another demon poses as half of a gay couple, violates his partner anally, and only after they are shacked up for a while does he arrange his partner's "accidental" death in a car crash. Why go to all that unnecessary trouble? WHY, Satan, why????

Satan certainly chews up the film's meagre running time with his insane rambling monologues about how he'll "reign supremm", but it's Pastor Lazarus on his personal crusade against the Satanic hordes who's the real screen hog, sermonizin' and evangelizin', and singing and dancing his way through Nigeria's poorest neighbourhoods screaming "Beliff!", no doubt at the producer's insistence (who, the credits proudly proclaim, is ALSO a real-life pastor). After a particularly evil-looking baby is born with horns and forehead tattoo, the film propels us 8 years into the future so that the still-crusading Pastor can go head-to-toe with the spawn of Satan himself, a psychopathic Webster in a David Beckham shirt. But don't think you'll get closure in this ultimate showdown between Good and Evil. The prolific Nollywood has already made the sequel, 666 2: The End Is Nearer, But Still At Hand. Sounds to me like the perfect Schlock Treatment movie for Easter!

Nigerian Christianity is of a peculiar evangelical, charismatic kind that features magic spells, miracles and curses and demon children, and they're all on display along with some of the most outrageous home-grown horrorshow moments to EVER grace a religious exploitation picture. We at Schlock Treatment don't call these films "Godsploitation" on a whim - they are genuine, wide-eyed and foaming-at-the-mouth gore films designed to scare the Bejesus INTO you. I'm not saying the Message is flawed. It's just the delivery is wrong, wrong, WRONG, ostensibly in English but delivered in a unique Nigerian patois that has you straining for clarity before surrendering to its flow. Shot, edited, scored, and with "special" effects added in that part of Hell reserved for home movie bores and Casio keyboard players, it could be the most primitive Schlock title we've ever screened. Can I get an Amen? Hallelujah, I say, for the school pantomime meets tribal exorcism of Nollywood's 666: Beware The End Is At Hand.

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