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

RATING: 2/10
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?

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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.