From: nenslo <nenslo@yahooX.com>
MY CULT FILM HORROR: I saw Years of the Beast
[Written in 1996]
And how it happened. All revealed to you now by O Nenslo
The sign out front of Victory Christian Center said
they were showing
a movie called Years of the Beast, Sunday at 6PM. So I admit I was in
church on a Sunday but in my defense let me assert that I was ON DRUGS
all the while, and that I mumbled Hail Satan a couple of times.
That aside, my experience was this:
Victory Christian Center looks like a shed on the outside and a
renovated hayloft on the inside, and there is not a picture of
ANYTHING in there. Not one religious symbol of any kind that I could
I sat in one of the pews, not near enough to anybody to bother, and I
only had to shake hands with a couple of guys who were wandering
around being greeterly. I asked one if this was a prophecy movie. He
didn't know. He asked Gary, who didn't know either, but who did know
that this was the third one of a try-ology of movies, the previous
being Mark of the Beast and Distant Thunder and they were about the
end times so yes, it was a prophecy movie. The thirty or so folks
there looked to be Hardcore Normal and from what I heard and what got
said to me and what I could see with my own eyes I would have to say
in the kindest possible way that not many of them seemed any too
bright. Or I guess they wouldn't be there would they.
The action looked like beginning when some necessary people started
arriving, whom I soon learned were members of the five piece combo
which littered the far end of the shed, behind the pulpit. Yes, a five
piece combo; Lady Keyboards in a black pants-suit and grim dome of
hairdo - a VAST lead guitar, HUGE FELLOW - then a bass, sax and
drummer of much less interest. They were quite loud enough to hear,
and obviously very ... sincere... ahem.
I felt a strange thrill when I saw we were all going
to Praise the
Lord together! They picked an easy and popular hymn, Power in the
Blood, and damned if everybody else wasn't all on their feet beltin it
out, crying Yes Lord Halleluiah and sticking one hand up! I swayed
gently, out of sympathy, as they praised the Lord for the Wonder
Working Power in the Blood of the Lamb. I guess I was the only one
sitting but figured what the hell, no man can serve two masters. They
went into a slower one after that, but when it came time to end the
song - the band quit ... but the audience DIDN'T. They kept right on
praising the Lord, every one of them except maybe the kids moaning
some kind of Thank You Lord, Yeeesss Jesus, Halleluiah! They just kept
going and going. Astonished? Wasn't I! The formula seemed to be they
die down after a decent interval until they get down to the leader who
carries the praising on for a minute or two and Bump! Amen! Now let's
get that movie going.
They sure tried to get the movie going. The video I
mean because they
had a big old vacuum-cleaner looking thing hanging by chains up by the
ceiling, which was a video projector beaming a bluish-grey square with
an amoeba in it on the wall above the drumset while somebody read a
quote from Goethe's Faust. Then some other guys went up and started
poking around in silhouette, and the picture of the amoeba was
replaced by blankness, enlivened by the sound of a Toyota
advertisement. I was sitting in the dark, in church, ON DRUGS,
listening to Goethe and a Toyota ad, and loving it. That was when I
mumbled Hail Satan the first time, with the utmost reverence and gratitude.
Finally they get the damn thing going, and get past
crap which does indeed have a guy quoting Faust and quite badly too
which is sad because he's the star of the movie GARY BAYER, and it
gets started - YEARS OF THE BEAST, made in Seattle Washington by one
Paul Thomas, Director, for Skyline Productions 1981. Based on the
novel by Leon Chambers. [This is one of the seven apocalyptic novels I
have had to read.]
Years of the Beast is a drama of the fulfillment of
Apocalyptic Prophecy, centering on an unemployed intellectual with
wife and various supporting roles who must deal with the societal
decay which results from the World Government of Antichrist after all
True Christians have been spirited off in The Rapture to go live with
Jesus in the New Jerusalem until his Second Coming. Specifically they
had to deal with The Sheriff who takes his job seriously. The Heavy.
He's the law, but sometimes he's a law unto himself. That's what Ol'
Pete says at one point. Just Call Me Pete. A bit odd but still got a
lot on the ball.
The rapture scene was just a little earthquake and
Professor Slopkowitz go? Nothing left but his nutty treatise on
Biblical Prophecy - and a neat pile of clothing. I'm waiting for the
"graves exploding open in a shaft of brilliant light as the Dead In
Christ burst heavenward in Glorious Array to meet their King" movie.
I always want to SEE folks having to Take The Mark
of the Beast on
their hand or forehead or better yet refusing at the last minute, to
be shot point-blank and tumbled in a ditch, but I guess I have too
many expectations. They didn't have any of that in this movie. This
one fell back on the radio shot quite a bit. Stock shot: vast crowd.
Long shot: Prince of the World standing on top of a wall, waving.
Medium shot: radio. The radio speaks: Yes, folks there are thousands
of people, all chanting in unison, "Who is like the Prince of the
World?" Oh, it's an amazing sight, yessiree....
The dullness of the plot was relieved by plenty of
dialogue, stock footage of an atom bomb, and the gunning down of The
Dobbs Family by the Sheriff for hoarding food and making a break for
it. I saw this. I watched the Dobbs family die, and spoke not a word.
Remember what happened to the Dobbs family. Soon thereafter Seattle
was destroyed by an irrational rain of fire via a matted-in cloud-tank
sky and some glare effects. Really.
So, after an especially dull interlude which lacked
only the gorilla
suit to be a Bigfoot Movie, with the Sheriff chasing folks through the
woods with dogs and driving around in a big truck and causing the
semi-inspiring deaths of certain main characters, the survivors go off
in the high woods poking around on top of some mountains for long
enough for the guys to actually grow little beards when to the
astonishment and merriment of all viewers myself included who should
appear but The Evil Sheriff now seemingly both Insane and Plague
Infected climbing a sheer cliff in cowboy boots with a LOADED SHOTGUN
IN HIS HAND up to where the good guys are sitting on top of a mountain
SINGING ABOUT JESUS but before he can get off his first shot the sun
starts to get very bright, shooting off brilliant piercing arrows of
glaring light which make the Sheriff miss his first shot and turn
screaming to fire into the sky and topple off the cliff to his death!
Then some of those fast grey clouds come rolling across the sky and
FLYING SAUCERS come zipping zooming down out of the clouds screaming
like skyrockets, dozens of them, and we get some reaction shots of
people looking ecstatic and more shining golden flying saucers and
inspiring grand orchestration and beams of light from the sky until it
gets so bright and glorious there's nothing left to do but fade in an
inscrutable bible verse. I guess that was the second coming, and those
flying saucers were really angels but it was all a bit unexpected and
jumbly. Pretty good finish though, even if it wasn't strictly
Whereupon I made my departure in order to avoid further
To conclude, this film does okay on the infinitely sliding Nensletic
Scale of Filmic Analysis, containing both flying saucers and an
a-bomb, two of the Four Vital Contents necessary for Film Enjoyment.
With the added benefit of the destruction of a major American City and
extra points for being a religious fantasy I feel that the remaining
two Vital Contents, tits and a monster suit, can be relinquished with
relatively little regret. The experience as a whole was quite
Original file name: YEARS OF THE BEAST review - converted on Monday, 21 July 2003, 13:39
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