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As a fan of European horror and cult cinema in general, I can tell that
this in one of THE very best produced movies coming from Italy in the
seventies. An incredible cast (Kirk Douglas, Agostina Belli, Simon Ward
etc, Anthony Quayle; Massimo Foschi etc) doing their all. I've always
been a fan of Kirk Douglas, and this is definitely one of his finest
(and odd) roles. A wonderful and scary Italian horror classic that has
to be seen. Far too underrated I'd say! Also - check for Massimo
Foschi, who does an incredible job in this movie. Easily one of the
best Italian actors from this period.
Thanks for bringing us a masterpiece, Alberto!
great film. about the apocalypse and done very well, bringing the apocalypse into reality before your eyes. Kirk Douglas took on a different role for this film and one that works. the apocalypse was firmly & skilfully brought into the twentieth century in this film and it was so realistic it was frightening. saw this film some years ago and wanted it ever since but cannot get hold of it. it was on TV in 1992 or 1993 and i missed it but a friend of mine down the street came knocking on my door in early hours as she was terrified having just watched it that night! i am not a person who cares for 'horror' films and this is far from being one of those. it sure is scary but that's because it is based on things that could be so real.don't knock it! watch it. also, if anyone can tell me how i can get this film on video or DVD i would be very grateful, but it doesn't seem to be available according to HMV stores.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Undoubtedly one of the most ambitious Italian exploitation/rip-off
efforts of the 1970's, "Holocaust 2000" shows the courage (or
stupidity?) to amalgamate TWO contemporary popular themes of Sci-Fi
horror. Back in the glorious decade of the 70's, the end of the world
could either be inflicted by humanity's own damn fault (ecological
disasters or scientific revolutions) or biblical prophecies (the birth
of the Antichrist, etc). This film, directed by the tremendously
underrated Alberto De Martino; king of Italian rip-offs, features a
mixture of both themes and the script really isn't as imbecile as it
sounds! Superficially, this film looks like a straight imitation of
"The Omen" in which a prominent American industrialist replaces the
position of the prominent American ambassador, but the difference is
that the industrialist's work is also relevant crucial, even to the
development of the plot. Unfortunately, but almost inevitably, the
film's strength is also its main weakness
Blending religious &
ecological themes quickly results in a lot of complexity, confusion and
especially a whole lot of skepticism. Even though the script is
surprisingly well elaborated and quite intelligent, you can't help
thinking it's overly grotesque and far-fetched. Kirk Douglas,
charismatic and reliable as ever, stars as the millionaire
industrialist Robert Caine, whose lifework involves the large-scaled
construction of a thermo-nuclear power plant in the Middle Eastern
region. This gigantic project, with its seven turbines and its
ten-headed output-system could provide powerful energy for the entire
Third World; only the safety precautions are unstable and questionable.
Caine and his lovely young girlfriend Sara also discover that the
plant's design suspiciously bears a lot of resemblance with the
biblical beast that is believed to unleash an apocalyptic fire that
burns down the entire planet. The more reluctant Robert gets to carry
on with his project, the more his adult son Angel insists on continuing
and he even takes control. Meanwhile, Sara is pregnant and Robert is
overcome with fear of his unborn baby being the Antichrist whose birth
would complete the apocalypse.
"Holocaust 2000" is wrongfully accused of simply being another uninspired Italian clone of "The Omen", but I certainly beg to differ! Admittedly some of the basic aspects are blatantly copied from Richard Donner's milestone, like the social setting and particularly the circumstances surrounding the death sequences, but Alberto De Martino's film contains a lot more ingeniousness and originality than everybody thinks! Multiple sub plots are even downright marvelous and suspenseful, most notably the scenes inside the psychiatric clinic and Caine's nightmare visions. The first hour is terrific, with a constant spitfire of clever dialogs and an overall macabre ambiance, but I do admit the last 45 minutes are a little tedious and repetitive. Particularly the ineffective "mystery" of the Antichrist's identity is quite foolish, because it's more than obvious since the start of the film already. De Martino had a decent budget to work with for a change, and this is clearly illustrated through the convincing set pieces and professional photography. The music is courtesy of Ennio Morricone, so you can blindly accept it is brilliant, and Kirk Douglas' performance is more than impeccable to guide you through the mediocre moments. Vastly underrated film, ripe for re-discovery! And even if you don't care for this type of storyline, at least you got to love the awesome helicopter-decapitation moment! I rewind that scene each and every time!
There's no question about it: Italian film-makers used to make the most
enjoyable crap and this one is a prime example. Whenever a Hollywood
movie became a runaway box office success, the Italians would waste no
time in making their own carbon copy of it and, in this field, director
Alberto De Martino was one of the top "go to" guys in the country;
having recently made his own "pasta" versions of THE GODFATHER (1972)
and THE EXORCIST (1973) in THE COUNSELLOR (1973) and THE ANTICHRIST
(1974) respectively it was natural for him to be entrusted with
concocting an Italianized clone of THE OMEN (1976). As it happens, this
was an Italo-British co-production (as that impressively star-studded
cast can attest) and the end result is, as I said, far more enjoyable
than a half-arsed imitation has any right to be.
The film's ageing American star, Kirk Douglas (in the first of 4 horror/sci-fi outings he did in quick succession the others being Brian De Palma's disappointing THE FURY , the maligned-but-fair SATURN 3  and THE FINAL COUNTDOWN , which I haven't watched in ages), does have one up on Gregory Peck from THE OMEN in that he gets to share a nude love scene with leading lady Agostina Belli! The rest of the cast, unsurprisingly, is a mix of established Brits and Italians: Geoffrey Keen, Alexander Knox (as the requisite professor who unravels the diabolical scheme and who's given a memorably subtle death scene), Virginia McKenna (like in the subsequent BLOOD LINK , also from De Martino, she's killed off during the opening scenes!), Anthony Quayle, Simon Ward (effectively cast as a cold-blooded Antichrist), as well as Adolfo Celi and Romolo Valli (playing the equally indispensable and ill-fated priest).
The plot comes up with an ingenious modernization of the Apocalypse prophecies, illustrating a plausible analogy between mythical and modern monsters. Among the film's most notable sequences is Douglas' surreal nightmare (in which he's stranded stark naked in the desert, witnesses the demons rising from the sea and is haunted by the presence of a religious fanatic in a Diabolik-like outfit!) and one where a Middle Eastern political leader opposed to industrial progress gets the top of his head chopped off by a helicopter blade (thus anticipating the more celebrated moment in George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD ). Once again, Ennio Morricone's score may sound overly-familiar (given that he composed THE ANTICHRIST and also EXORCIST II THE HERETIC ) but there's no denying that it serves the taut proceedings admirably.
Ultimately, though, the film results in not being at all scary: for one thing, the Antichrist has no direct relation to the 'accidental' deaths of those who stand in his way; also, he's left pretty much to his own devices (with no diabolical helpers as in THE OMEN), yet, nobody ever seems to question his decisions. Besides, there's no explanation as to just how Ward became "the chosen" (one of the titles by which the film's also known, as seen in an alternate opening sequence included on the DivX copy I watched) in THE OMEN, at least, it was a case of babies exchanged at birth! Other narrative flaws: why is the Agostina Belli character afraid of entering a church considering that the child she's carrying turns out not to be the Antichrist after all (as Douglas himself had feared)?; the second scene in the psycho ward (with the religious fanatic going berserk and inciting his fellow inmates to kill Douglas) is baffling and somewhat redundant since the latter has, by this time, become aware of Ward's true intentions!
The film concludes rather abruptly with the fairly ludicrous and pretentious suggestion of a new 'Holy Family'; I much preferred the alternate ending also found on the (once again) problematic DivX copy I have, after missing out on this title more than I care to remember on Italian TV over the years: while admittedly conventional, at least, we're shown Douglas willing to keep up the fight the only way he knows how through violence. Finally, I have to wonder what's holding up the film's release on DVD; it doesn't seem to be available in any region and, while no classic, it's eminently watchable apart from being, definitely, a commercially viable item (especially for fans of "Euro-Cult")...
Holocaust 2000 represents two things. It is the director's attempt to
in on the huge success of The Omen. It is also Kirk Douglas's attempt to
a wider, younger audience back on his side by flirting with the horror
The film is a mess, with Douglas playing the unsuspecting father whose business plans for a thermonuclear plant in the Middle East are enormously unpopular. His son, Simon Ward (a real Michael Caine lookalike in this film), is his closest ally when it comes to trying to build the plant, but what Douglas hasn't figured out is that his son is the embodiment of the AntiChrist, and that he only wants it built so that he can destroy mankind. Various people get killed (especially anyone who stands in the way of the plot) before Douglas figures it all out, but by then everyone thinks he is mad and he can't stop the completion of the plant. However, he does manage to escape and thus lives to fight another day.
The film never pushes the audience out of their comfort zone. It poses no thought provoking questions, no ominous atmosphere, and no originality. The performances are surprisingly good considering that the material is so poor. A couple of the killings are well filmed, especially the colonel who is beheaded by a helicopter rotor blade, but some of them are a bit unconvincing. The film's one sex scene is quite erotic (surprisingly so considering the age gap between Douglas and his co-star Agostina Belli) but that hardly makes it worth watching. All in all, this is a missed opportunity.
Alberto De Martino's Anglo-Italian Holocaust 2000 aka Rain of Fire aka
The Chosen is another post-Omen ripoff with an ageing Hollywood star
jumping on the Satanic conspiracy bandwagon, in this case Kirk Douglas
as a powerful industrialist whose plans to build a controversial
nuclear power plant in the Holy Land might just trigger the End of
Days. Naturally, he doesn't see it that way at first, but even before
he dismisses one critic by urging him to "Stop talking like a
ridiculous prophet of the Apocalypse! I'm not counting on God. I'm
putting my faith in nuclear energy!", you can see where this is heading
even if he can't. But a few deaths courtesy of the odd celebrity victim
in the supporting cast like Anthony Quayle or Virginia McKenna, one
ominous computer printout, a fertile fling with Agostina Belli's
photographer and a chance meeting with Romolo Valli's priest later and
he's having nightmarish visions of the Apocalypse and, this being the
70s when you had more chance of getting Sylvia Kristel to keep her
clothes on in a film than Kirk, we're having nightmarish full-frontal
visions of Douglas running naked through the desert as he gradually
comes to believe that his proposed seven-towered nuclear plant might
just be the seven-head Beast of the Book of Revelations and that his
unborn child might just be AntiChrist (a common ailment with ageing
movie stars in the 70s) while screaming "We're not seven-headed
monsters bringing about the Apocalypse!" at his corporate minions.
Luckily or perhaps not he's teamed up with the Vatican's only
pro-abortion priest to kill the sprog, but things don't quite go to
plan and thanks to his angelic son Simon Ward he finds himself in a
rubber room in Adolfo Celi's steel and glass asylum: well, Kirk did
always want to make One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
LionsGate's US DVD, released as Rain of Fire, is the European version with the original open ending: for the shorter US cut, a clumsy and rushed epilogue (not included on the DVD, though it can be found on YouTube) was added by editing shots of a board meeting, Douglas arriving at an airport, a body double sewing dynamite into his suit and a stock footage explosion together to laughable effect. Otherwise there are surprisingly few moments of unintentional comedy, though Douglas' reaction to the semi-decapitation of the Israeli Prime Minister by a helicopter and his gurning expression when passing out after being drugged are spit-your-coffee-across-the-room ones. You can see the twist coming a mile off, but while it offers no surprises and is about as frightening as processed cheese, it's easygoing schlock entertainment with some class and a decent budget, and it's probably a better Omen sequel than the actual sequels.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some will dismiss it as some parboiled cross between "the omen" and
"Rosemary's baby";but Alberto De Martino had become an expert in the
subject of ripoff:Sergio Leone ("Centomila Dollari Per Ringo"),Dario
Argento (" L'Assassino è Al Telefono") American gangsters in Roma (John
Cassavetes in "Roma Come Chicago!!),James Bond ("Missione Speciale Lady
Chaplin" "OK Connery" (sic)) .He even made "L'Anti Cristo" (1974)
BEFORE "the omen".
"Holocaust 2000" is an entertaining nay very entertaining ripoff.It even includes good ideas such as the nuclear power plant and the Apocalypse Beast or the mathematic riddle 2V231 (2 times square root of 231).Whereas the demon in "the omen" moved in the political field ,the new Antichrist wants to destroy man which has already invented his doom with his own weapons :the nukes .The anti-nukes demonstrations on the street were common in those years ;so the movie contains a 'message' of easily digestible proportions ;great care is taken with the screenplay and the actors CAN act ,which is not always true with this cheap cinema:Kirk Douglas is very professional,but the standout is unquestionably Simon Ward as Angel: he succeeds in being disturbing without losing his Buddah smile and his cold look gives the jitters ;he 's truly got an angel face.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Amiable and determined wealthy agnostic industrialist Robert Caine (an excellent performance by Kirk Douglas) and his shrewd and ambitious son Angel (well played by Simon Ward) plan on building a nuclear power plant in the Holy Land. When various people associated with the project start meeting gruesome untimely ends, Roger realizes that he might be involved in an ancient biblical prophecy about the Anti-Christ and the end of the world. Director Alberto De Martino, who also co-wrote the ingenious and intriguing script with Stan Donati, whips up a very clever and inspired supernatural horror chiller that brilliantly realizes Old Testament prophecies through modern technology. Moreover, De Martino maintains a steady pace throughout, does a sound job of creating a tense and ominous atmosphere which becomes more increasingly spooky and unsettling as the story unfolds, and stages the gory murder set pieces with tremendous fluid style and flair (a memorably grisly decapitation by helicopter blade rates as the definite splatter highlight). In addition, we also get a wonderfully trippy apocalyptic nightmare sequence with a naked Douglas running on a beach and being warned by a crazed fanatic (a superbly intense portrayal by Massimo Foschi) about Armegeddon. Douglas holds the whole film together with his strong and commanding presence; he receives sturdy support from the gorgeous Agostina Belli as sweet and helpful reporter Sara Golan, Romolo Valli as helpful priest Charrier, Anthony Quayle as the pragmatic Professor Griffith, Alexander Knox as the respected Professor Ernst Meyer, and Spiros Focas as formidable adversary Harbin. Popping up in nifty bit parts are Virginnia McKenna as Robert's disapproving wife Eva, Adolfo Celli as asylum head Dr. Kerouac, and Geoffrey Keen as a sinister gynecologist. Erico Menczer's slick cinematography gives the picture an impressively polished and expansive look. Ennio Morricone's lush, moody, and shuddery full-scale orchestral score hits the shivery shot. Well worth seeing.
Italian filmmakers in the seventies weren't exactly slow when it came
to ripping off successful films, and indeed it didn't take long for
Alberto De Martino to deliver this obvious Omen rip-off just one year
after the release of Richard Donner's successful film in 1976. The
title suggests that the film will put something of a modern spin on the
story, and indeed it has as in this tale of the Antichrist living among
us humans, there is a nuclear power station at the centre. Kirk Douglas
plays Robert Caine, an executive in charge of a Middle Eastern nuclear
power plant. One of his main backers is his son, Angelo, but Angelo's
reasons for wanting the power plant built are far more sinister than
anything Robert would have expected. After a series of events, it
becomes apparent to Robert that his son doesn't want the plant built to
benefit mankind. In fact, he is the son of the Devil and his reasons
for wanting the nuclear power plant completed is so he can carry out
the Devil's work and use the plant to destroy all of mankind!
It has to be said that this really isn't a good film. It rips off The Omen so much it's almost painful, and the rest of the movie is a complete mess. However, I can't completely condemn this movie as aside from the numerous plot issues, it's a lot of fun to watch and there always plenty of stuff going on. The Omen became infamous for its gory and inventive death scenes, and while the ones here may not be all that inventive - they're plenty gory and serve in adding to the fun. The only big actor in the film is Kirk Douglas. This can hardly be considered the classic actor's best work (not that I'm a big fan of most of his stuff), but somehow he manages to stay fairly credible despite the fact that the dialogue in this film is choppy at best, and it cant be easy to act well when you're working with actors that are less than brilliant. There's not a lot in this movie that will make you think, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It all boils down to the sort of conclusion you can expect, but it's good fun getting there and overall I'd give this Omen rip off a thumbs up.
Holocaust 2000 is directed by Alberto De Martino and co-written by
Martino and Sergio Donati. It stars Kirk Douglas, Simon Ward, Agostina
Belli, Anthony Quayle and Virginia McKenna. Music is by Ennio Morricone
and cinematography by Erico Menczer.
Nuclear industrialist Robert Caine (Douglas) refuses to heed warnings that the Antichrist is closer to home than he ever could have imagined...
Caine and Angel
Casting aside the fact that it is a cash in on the success of the far superior The Omen, it simply isn't smart or good enough to make its own mark. Knowing what is going on in the first instance is not a great thing for the audience, it would be were the narrative strong enough to keep us on our toes, but it never is. The plot speeds along merrily following the same trajectory as expected; mysterious deaths, pregnancy, loads of ominous warnings, repeat sequence of doom and on to the unsubtle reveal in preparation for a less than satisfying ending.
The makers do try to add some salt to the satanic broth, such as having Douglas roam around naked in a feverish nightmare, and some moments are kinda fun in that tacky Italian/England production way, but the zip, the originality, is sorely lacking. Cast seem to be working off of a different screenplay to each other, though Douglas is at least working hard to make the duff regurgitation come alive. It looks nice on occasions, and it's fun for the wrong reasons, but its low standing reputation is fully justified and therefore near impossible to recommend to anyone but Kirk Douglas completists. 5/10
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