A Thief in the Night

Dir: Donald W. Thompson
Star: Patty Dunning, Mike Niday, Colleen Niday, Maryann Rachford

I recall reading about this series decades ago - might have been in Shock Xpress? I finally got to see one, and it didn't disappoint. At the other end of the propaganda spectrum from Opfergang is this crudely-made Christploitation flick designed to scare believers into a perpetual state of paranoia. Because the Rapture can happen at any second, and if you are not ready, than you could be left behind to endure... Well, going by what happens here, about the only thing that will happen, is you have to get a little tattoo on the back of your hand. While there are certainly aesthetic problems with this, I would have expected a great deal more evil from a world run by the Antichrist. Anyhoo, this is enough to send heroine Patty (Dunning) into a frenzy, since it all ties with the Mark of the Beast stuff she's had drummed into her - at great length, believe me - during the first half of the film.

That aspect is frightfully dull: I was surprised to find a fair number of reports of people seeing this and other films in the series, as children at church, and being traumatized. Admittedly, I'm a non-child who views all organized religion with a jaundiced eye, but this was so unconvincing as to be entirely non-threatening. The most disturbing thing was likely the opening song, sung by a beat combo with the catchy name of The Fishmarket Combo. How did they ever miss? This occupies an uneasy middle-ground: if preaching to the already converted, it spends a good chunk of time before the Rapture getting people over - in one case, as the result of a King Cobra bite. But the weird thing, theologically, is that Patti is a very Christian girl, not a sinner. So why is she left behind? The final scene almost explains, then pulls a 180 to leave this question unanswered. So the moral is, no matter how good a life you lead, doze off spiritually for a moment, and you may find youself in a world where dark forces tattoo the binary for 666 on you.

Except, the binary would be 1010011010, but the film uses 0110 0110 0110. Guess the Beast's computers apparently need binary represenations of decimal digits, unlike every computer I know. And by "Beast" I mean the United Nations, who take over after the Rapture in the guise of the "United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency". In the absence of anyone else, the Beast is presumably the old geezer who appears on TV with a UNITE arm-band, and who possesses the charisma of a dead squirrel. Prince of Lies or not, I suspect the Antichrist is unlikely to take the guise of an Open University lecturer. Enjoyable for the increasingly-hysterical tone, which escalates right to the end. The concept of "God is love" is replaced her by what amounts to 72 minutes of terroristic threats: be good or else. Damn straight, or damned straight.

[January 2012]

Christ almighty...
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