The Unholy (1988)
Every three years or so, Satan sends the worst of his demons, The Unholy, to test a representative of God, The Chosen One.
Satan won three years ago, but nothing much happened as a result, so I guess the battle is purely for bragging rights.
God’s ‘Chosen One’ is always a Catholic priest, which must mean that Catholicism is the one true denomination. The Devil has an interesting way of challenging the Chosen One. The Unholy appears before the Chosen One and offers them their deepest, darkest desire. Then, if the Chosen One gives into the temptation, the Unholy One kills him. According to the movie, the ‘deepest, darkest desire’ of every Catholic priest is a hot red-head in a see-through nightgown. That’s right, an adult woman.
The Chosen One this time around is a slightly roguish (he smokes!) young priest who falls out of a third floor window while trying to talk down a suicidal man. The fact that he survived the fall suggests to the priests-that-be that he may be the chosen of God, so they place him in the same church that the last chosen won lost his battle in.
Once there, the young priest gets involved with a waitress, Milly, who works at a Satanist-themed nightclub run by a man that looks like a pretty version of Rutger Hauer. There’s some sub-plot about the club wanting to use the priest to drum up business, but it doesn’t really add much to the movie.
The big draw in the film is actually the monster effects. They aren’t realistic, but they’re so campy and old-school that they’re just delightful to look at. There’s a great scene in which a foam dog-woman covered in slime licks the priest while two little people in homunculus costumes run around in the back. There’s a sort of magic that’s lost in a scene like this when the monsters look too real.
The priest is a dull character. He’s too idealistically priest-like, there’s no nuance or conflict within him. Milly is a bit more of a mystery, whether she is good or bad, but it’s not a very compelling mystery; and because the priest is too goody-goody, it wouldn’t have made a difference if she were good or not anyways.
The story leading up to the great monster showdown is similarly dull. It’s a lot of uneventful conversations in small rooms. Despite being a war between good and evil, there’s no real sense of scale, or danger. The only real stake in the battle is the life of the priest himself, but given his devotion, I don’t think he’d mind dying for the cause all that much.
The Unholy is a forgettable movie, except for the last 20 minutes, which are quite fun (even if it does employ a deus ex machina). Since this movie is only available as part of an 8 movie set, it’s probably worth watching, even you just skip ahead to the end.
The Unholy was included in the two disc, eight film ‘Horror Collection’ form Lionsgate. You can probably find it in your local Wal-Mart’s $5 bin. Unholy is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and actually looks pretty good, even though the bit rate stays around 2.4 throughout. There are, of course, no extras.