Wednesday, October 17, 2012

End Of The Wicked (1999) NEVER BROADCAST

End Of The Wicked
Nigeria 1999 colour
Director Teco Benson           
Cast Hilda Dokubo (Stella), Ramsey Nouah (Emeka), Charles Okafor (Chris), Alex Usifo Omiagbo (Beelzebub), Patience Oseni (Mama Chris), Helen Ukpabio (Pastor)

Is there such a thing as an evil film?

It can be argued that Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph Of The Will, a propeganda film which helped usher in the Nazi Party's rise to power, or The Eternal Jew, an apology piece for the impending Final Solution, are by association imbued with an aura of evil and wickedness.

If such a list exists, I would also add End Of The Wicked from Nigeria as one of the most sinful films of the modern era, a movie implicated in the murder of thousands of children across West Africa. And also tonight's entertainment here on Schlock Treatment.

Helen Ukpabio in mid-protestation
Nigeria's odd hybrid of pentecostal Christianity and deeply-rooted pagan beliefs in black magic or "juju" has evolved into a Medieval world view, in which demons and witches are all around us, and are responsible for all ill-will or bad luck. One of the largest and loudest of these fundamentalist organizations is the Liberty Gospel Church, run by Helen Ukpabio, a determined and influential preacher with a commanding presence, although her appearance in End Of The Wicked would deny it. Her published bio states she was initiated into a Satanic cult at 14 and was groomed to be Lucifer's bride, so when she speaks of demons, you simply must BELIEVE. Over twenty evangelical films are credited to Liberty, since the late Nineties, but none have been more far-reaching and with such catastrophic results as End Of The Wicked.

Central to Helen Ukpabio's evangelist crusade against witchcraft and "wickedness" is the idea that children are the most susceptible to demonic possession. If something bad happens, goes the theory, blame those unable to articulate their innocence. The result is a generation of children bullied into believing they are witches, cast out of villages, or worse: tortured confessions, beatings, mutilations, live burials, burnings and more. The symptoms, according to Ukpabio? Walking or talking in their sleep, persistent crying, poor health. From her book, “Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft,” she states “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.” That Ukpabio's tiny victims are from the more impoverished parts of Nigeria is a given. Whatever the circumstances are of an unhappy and/or impoverished childhood, it sounds like you're damned if you do ANYthing.

Which brings us to End Of The Wicked, a foaming-at-the-mouth diatribe against the presence of demons and witches in our midst. Watching the procession of the damned is Beelzebub himself, white faced with a vivid crimson Van Dyke, sitting on his Evil Throne surrounded by shape-shifting crones. "Dance the seduction dance!" he booms, trying to get the party started. "The most sexy dance on Earth!" The ignomies pile up - in the Torture Department a damned man's eyeballs pop out of his head and swing on the end of stalks. One witch has possessed the wife of another doomed villager, then shapeshifts into his mother, grows a ten inch penis and rapes the sleeping wife. The village children too are taken from their beds and dragged to Beelzebub's throne to do his bidding - See? It's all the proof you need that children are EVIL!!! But still, Beelzebub is never satisfied, and like the CEO of Qantas, keeps screaming "We must increase our wickedness!"

We've played several Nigerian Godsploitation films before on Schlock Treatment, so regular viewers will be prepared. For the Nollywood novice: only God will save you from the yelled dialogue in quasi-English, the garish home computer effects, and the hateful breath of fundamentalist Christianity fogging up every minute of its litany of horrors. At the centre of End Of The Wicked is Ukpabio herself, wielding her Sword of Righteousness against the infant armies of Beelzebub in one hand and clutching a mountain of "Get Out Of Hell Free" cards in the other. Back in the real world, each time Ukpabio is investigated she cries religious persecution or plays the racism card. But the statistics speak for themselves - from the late Nineties, there are believed to be over 2000 deaths in Nigeria alone, and many more in other parts of Africa. Liberty is not the only church to squarely lay the blame; exorcising witch children is big business, and despite laws prohibiting the torture and execution of Witch Children, the African landscape remains dotted with 21st Century Matthew Hopkins, the smoke from charred infants swirling around their feet. And with that imagine firmly implanted in your brains, I sentence you to the Torture Department to watch End Of The Wicked.

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