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May 2011

Idol Of Evil

cast: Richard Cambridge, Stephanie Eilliott, Adrian Brouchet, Eley Furrell, and Matt Sheppard

director: Kevin McDonough

86 minutes (n/r) 2006
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Chemical Burn NTSC DVD Region 1

RATING: 2/10
review by Paul Higson

Idol Of Evil
Spoiler Alert!
I was scathing when reviewing Kevin McDonough's Lycanthropy a few years ago, on these electronic pages, and though the same director's Idol Of Evil is presented here as a new release it comes from the same production period sporting a 2006 copyright (though I seem to recall that it was shot after Lycanthropy). It would be harsh of me to assume that McDonough had the opportunity to learn from his mistakes in-between the two films and seemingly so as what we get is more of the same.

At least this time there is less of it with Idol Of Evil running 86 minutes, a good and thankful 20 minutes shorter than Lycanthropy. It is uncertain what McDonough is trying to achieve with Idol Of Evil which, in its title, purports horror but it is not until the end of the film that a ritual takes place. It then becomes apparent that the aim is for a less adventurous Worcestershire-landlocked re-imagining of the first Indiana Jones film, only without the money, set-pieces or imagination. It is a baffling stay, but not one for any longevity of consideration towards it, forgettable when not knocking you to sleep with disinterest.

Idol Of Evil is set in an alternative universe were the majority of people are 20 years of age, or was that just lazy casting. The 20-year-olds include the author of 'The Myth Of Mythology', one Professor David Hilton (Richard Cambridge) who is placed on extended leave following the cussing out (off-screen) of another lecturer at the University of Cheltenham-come-Birmingham. But he has visitors from the Vatican, puzzling over the disappearance of Professor Peter Kixley, a friend and colleague of Hilton's, whose research into the artefacts 'the Eye of Kali' and 'the Skull of Ellandon' may have landed him in the clutches of the cult group 'the Order of Kali.'

Hilton teams up with Lucy Lake (Stephanie Elliott), a colleague of Kixley's on his last archaeological dig. They further recruit Jack Tessio (Neil Forrester) who in turn invites his father to translate a map from the obscure language known as 'the Black Tongue.' Hilton, Lake and Tessio continue the investigation and are able to locate the Skull of Ellandon, an ancient accursed king, in a thin patch of mud. The rival faction meanwhile, led by money-driven hireling Nixon (Adrian Bouchet) acting under the orders of Father Calvert (Eley Furrell) have located the Eye of Kali.

Team villainy's primary tough Bain (Matt Sheppard, who is also one of the producers and loses a 'p' from his name in the opening credits) abducts Lucy who is then tortured by Bain and Calvert to reveal the location of the other dig - and when I say 'dig' I think two spades-full still constitutes a dig. Nixon and Bain take the others hostage, or perhaps don't, they do Hilton and seemingly Tessio, though location guide Heather (Marysia K, of Forest Of The Damned) seems to vanish completely, clearly only available for the one day of shooting.

The captive Hilton and Lake never have a thought as to what may have become of Tessio or Heather, even when they escape, and we know they are not dead because when Calvert instructs Nixon to dispose of our heroes it is clearly the first time he has had to consider the murder of any innocent bystanders. When Hilton and Lake do escape they receive a call from Tessio who appears to be hiding from the armed forces of the Cult of Kali, though later we are uncertain if he has betrayed them and is a participant in the closing ritual. If so, why the show in the car-park, he certainly does not need to do it for a mobile phone conversation and it can only be for the viewer's benefit.

It is revealed that the high priestess of the CuIt of Kali is Karen, the missing professor's wife who now informs us that it was she who dealt her husband a deadly blow. Idol Of Evil is a muddy movie that unwisely tries to emulate Raiders Of The Lost Ark for the closing ritual. Only they cannot afford Industrial Light and Magic. Instead, green filters hit everyone, soldiers puke to death, what appears to be Tessio bleeds from his eyes, and Nixon tries to flee which becomes difficult from the point that his leg snaps off at the knee, before exploding, his scattered body parts reconstituting as the monstrous Ellandon. So formidable is the monster as an opponent that the fight is over in seconds. The effects during this episode remind me of early Fred Olen Ray. The film then goes into post-mortem with the Vatican priests just to ensure that any momentary excitement is expelled before you leave the movie.

The real crime committed by the film is an exemption on originality and character. Virtually everyone could have stepped out of the pretty section of Spotlight, clean-cut to the point of fatal ordinariness. The story is by template, the action is restricted to cars moving, guns pointing, and a few short scraps. Dialogue is dull, the scenes are prolonged and the continuity is fudged. When Hilton and Lucy are back together, captives of the Cult of Kali, she, the victim of torture slowly lifts her head to reveal the horrific wounds� correction, lifts her head to reveal the badly applied brown radial 'bruises'.

Cheats like the moment Hilton smashes a car-door window... but doesn't really� are all too apparent. There is a strong 1980s' amateurish feel to this, a step up from Andrew Harrison's video-shot Zombie Genocide, but Idol Of Evil has less of an excuse as the filmmakers have the equipment and the numbers to be able to do better. The screener also closes with the return of the Vatican priests but there is a bizarre fault as for a minute the screen is black, then the image returns but the audio is lost and both sound and vision only return together for one final exterior shot. Rotunda Films seemed a busy little operation five years ago but now seems to have fallen quiet. Either they are learning from their first two blunder or they have called it a day. Either would be welcomed, a film of a similar poor standard to this would not.

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