First, sorry for the dearth of posts. New Year’s been incredibly busy for me and, well, time to hang around here’s been too short.
I’ll try better!
Now then, The Chosen.
Never heard of this film? You’re probably in pretty good company. Here’s the movie’s trailer:
It’s no exaggeration to say I likely saw this film in/around the time it was first released, ie circa 1977 (the above trailer says 1978, but everywhere else I see the earlier year listed but… whatever!). It was the first, and only, time I saw the film and I recalled two things about it, specifically, which I’ll get into in a moment, and neither of them was the fact that the film starred Kirk Douglas….!
Yes, I was a very young movie watcher back then, and I had no idea about who Kirk Douglas was, though in time I would come to be a fan.
But let’s back up a moment.
If you’re an old fart like me and you remember the 1970’s, it was a wild time. The hippie movement was ending and new interests emerged. There was a fascination, I remember, with “mysteries”, be they things like UFOs or Bigfoot (those who lived through that decade surely remember The Six Million Dollar Man going up against Bigfoot…right?)…
Meanwhile there were a slew of books exploring all these various mysteries, spreading out into the idea that perhaps aliens visited the Earth years before and left behind evidence of doing so (Chariots of the Gods?) and the weird mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.
The UFO interest would eventually lead to a young Steven Spielberg making Close Encounters of the Third Kind while demonic possession -another of those areas of mystery and interest, would lead to The Exorcist (1973).
In a way, the success of The Exorcist would have far reaching impacts, even to today. It is my feeling the film inspired the movie studios to make The Omen, (1976) another demonic possession -in this case, quite literally the anti-Christ- to be made. That movie’s success would lead the father son duo of Alexander and Illya Salkind to seek out that movie’s director, Richard Donner, to direct their Superman movie, and its arguable that this film’s success would lead to the current glut of superhero films we have today (Marvel movie overlord Kevin Feige has stated the first Superman film is the one they emulate with their Marvel films!).
Hot off the heels of the release of The Omen, Italian director Alberto De Martino, known mostly for creating movies which were… ahem… inspired by other films (he would jump on any popular genre), would quickly get a crew and cast together and make The Chosen, aka Holocaust 2000.
While it may seem incredible they got Kirk Douglas to play in the film, the fact of the matter is that by the 1970’s these old guard “golden era” Hollywood actors were getting rather old and I suspect getting starring roles in theatrical films was becoming increasingly difficult.
Thus, Gregory Peck would appear in The Omen and Kirk Douglas, no doubt looking for a hit and not adverse to taking on the job, would play the lead in The Chosen.
Both Peck’s character and Douglas’ are similar from both films, as is the general plot: The anti-Christ is out there and our hero, a well-healed industrialist, slowly comes to the realization that the villain is near… even as those around him die in sometimes very creative ways.
In fact, the two things I recalled about The Chosen after all these years were the two most “creative” deaths presented in the film, one involving a helicopter blade and the other a wood panel.
But… what about the rest of the film?
You know… its not too bad, considering its a rip off of The Omen, which is overall a far, far better overall work, yet I’d be lying if I said it was some kind of lost treasure from the 70’s.
Douglas really gives the movie his all, doing some stuntwork on his own (you can see some of it in the trailer above) and that’s pretty impressive given he was around 61 years old when this film was made.
He also, for those who are really faint of heart, has a sequence involving a nightmare where he runs around a desert naked.
Yeah, could be one of the scarier sequences in the film! 😉
Still, I’ve seen far worse. The soundtrack, by the legendary Ennio Morricone, isn’t bad but neither is it among his most memorable. Further, the story is not without its strange hiccups, scenes where Douglas’ character seems convinced without a doubt he’s dealing with demonic matters only to then be convinced by some really lame dialogue from others that he’s being overly worried, where he laughs and slouches it off, only to again be hit in the face with undeniable evidence.
There’s also a sequence in the film that genuinely shocked me, but for other reasons.
MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW!
At one point in the film Douglas’ character and a Catholic Priest he’s been consulting become convinced the baby his girlfriend is carrying is the anti-Christ. So, naturally, they arrange to take her to a doctor, under the pretext of getting her checked up, but in reality they’ve arranged for… an abortion!!!!!
A Catholic Priest arranges an abortion?
What in the world?!?!
Anyway, as I said before, I’ve seen much worse in my time. Having said that, I doubt modern audiences will find much interest in this film. It’s mostly a slow moving feature that, while interesting here and there, simply doesn’t measure up to The Omen.
If you’re in the mood for some anti-Christ hijinks, that’s the film to watch. If you want more, you could do worse than giving The Chosen a spin.