-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
The Fallen Ones|
cast: Casper Van Dien, Kristen Miller, Robert Wagner, Geoffrey Lewis, and Navid Megahban
director: Kevin VanHook
85 minutes (18) 2005
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Anchor Bay UK DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Some bad films are easier to write about than others. Some films, like The Rock,
are so bad that they are good; their sheer silliness makes them inherently enjoyable.
Other films are so terrible that watching them sends you into such a state of righteous
indignation that the only way to feel better is to write a suitably vitriolic review.
Kevin VanHook's made-for-TV film about the nephilim is awful but it isn't so-bad-it's-good,
and nor does watching it make you angry. Instead, watching The Fallen Ones makes
you feel a little bit depressed and dirty, a bit like accepting money from an old man in
return for allowing him to watch you have a wank.
Matt Fletcher is a dashing and handsome archaeologist who stumbles across the mummified
remains of a giant in the middle of an American desert. This giant, it turns out, is a
nephilim, the gigantic offspring of fallen angels and human women that provoked God into
causing the great flood in order to wipe them out. Five thousand years later, thanks to
the plotting of his angel father, the mummy awakes and goes on a rampage with only Casper
Van Dien, Robert Wagner, Tom Bosley and Geoffrey Lewis to stop him.
Despite a decent cast who are clearly enjoying themselves as eccentric rabbis, icy billionaires
and grizzled archaeologists, the dialogue and plotting of this film are so bad that every
dreadful line hits you like a slap in the face. After ten minutes you're chuckling, after
an hour you are wincing, and at the end of 85 minutes you're expecting a member of the Gestapo
to shout 'You vill answer me Englander!'
If it were just that the writing and special effects were awful (the film makes a giant
using the same technique as Sunday morning favourite Land Of The Giants, namely
putting a camera at someone's feet and filming upwards) then this film could be easily
dismissed as laughably bad. However, the true horror of this film lies in the creative
decisions made by VanHook.
The idea of making a film about the myths of the nephilim is an excellent one. One of
the most intriguing elements of the book of Genesis is the mention that in those olden
days giants walked the Earth. The Dead Sea Scrolls, and the book of Enoch, which spoke
at greater length about the nephilim, supplemented this. Indeed, these lesser-known
elements of Christian myth have such cachet that they have inspired books such as Tim
Powers' The Weight Of Her Regard and great bands like Fields Of The Nephilim.
However, out of all this luxuriant and evocative myth, all VanHook can manage is a giant
Egyptian mummy buried in an American desert.
What is ultimately so depressing about this film is what, in the right hands, it could
have been. The DVD is excellent with some good extras, the cast are pretty decent, the
subject matter was long overdue for a film and VanHook's background as an effects director
does give us the wonderful idea of a giant mechanical walking frame full of screaming
cultists. The fact that despite all of these things in its favour, the DVD is still
wretched and best avoided stands testament to quite how stupid and awful this film really
is. But then, this was made especially for the US Sci-Fi Channel, who also brought the
world such atrocities as Mansquito, so what else can you expect?
The film does though leave us one last mystery. IMDb lists this film as a 12 certificate
in the UK, but Amazon says that it is an 18. Having watched the film I can confirm that
there is nothing in it that warrants an 18 certificate, suggesting that maybe it is the
DVD extras that have forced a 12-certificate film to be packaged as an 18. Is there an
Easter egg featuring Howard Cunnigham from Happy Days molesting a goat? Does Robert
Wagner casually inject himself with heroin during an interview? It's unlikely but, even
if it were true, it still wouldn't make this DVD be worth your money or time.