This is the third of a series of films that began all the way back with A Thief In the Night. After two movies that focused on Patty, this movie brings in David, who is a Christian guerrilla battling the UNITE forces. While the first two films just dealt with the beginning of the end times, this one goes all in and goes completely wild, bringing in all manner of sheer lunacy as the Antichrist ruses and God begins to reign his fury on the sinful men and women left behind.
The beginning of this film is probably the tensest of all of the series, as it begins with a young couple shopping for groceries with Patty — remember our old friend Patty who pretty much as a goner in the last two endings? — checks them out. They discuss a Beverly Kay book on Biblical prophecy and computers and how scary it all is before we smash cut back to the end of A Distant Thunder with Patty goes to get her head cut off. Run-on sentence much? Well, with this movie, you have to!
While Patty is waiting to die, an earthquake hits and she’s trapped, all alone, with each tremor of the earth making the blade one step closer to decapitating her. It’s harrowing and well-shot, ending only when Patty gives and begs to be given the Mark and the blade chops her head clean off. The moral of Image of the Beast is such: God is done fooling around.
It’s time for a new hero in this film, who would be Kathy, who joins Leslie and David Michaels, our aforementioned freedom fighter who just killed an officer in self-defense and stole his uniform. They escape in a jeep but Leslie is shot, so our other two heroes and Kathy’s son spend the night sleeping under the car because that’s exactly what you do in the post-Rapture. In the morning, the precocious kid runs right into Reverend Turner (Russell Doughten, the dude behind all of this).
If you missed the last two movies, Turner was Patty’s old pastor who failed to preach the message that God wanted and is now left behind. He’s living a sweet Apocalyptic life, what with his farm, an apple tree and biggest and raddest map of how the end of all things will unfold.
That’s when everyone gets the plan that will take up the bulk of this movie: Fake Marks that work on the gigantic UNITE computer and allow our heroes to eat while they try and hack into said computer. Being that this was made in 1980, a lot of said hacking is done with calculators, pencil and paper. There’s also a subplot of the BUMS (Believers Underground Movement Squad) trying to find the Christians and take them to get their heads cut off. Of course, Jerry and Diane Bradford from the first two movies are in said group of villains.
I wonder — did PreMillenialist Dispensationalism Christians have a convention where they all decided that the UPC code was bad and that guillotines would be the weapon of choice for the UN?
There’s also the hint at the end of this movie that giant locusts have descended on the Earth, which would be awesome to see. And at the end, David sends a kid to his death and walks to the guillotine rather than take the Mark. There’s also a nuke that gets dropped.
My wife tried to watch this with me and when I was telling her how the stories of the Antichrist coming back to life and the prophets being killed and rising from the dead and the talking statue were all really in the Bible, she just left the room rather than deal with the realization that her husband was insane when he was a small child, often highlighting his Bible and looking up the exact passages to try and figure out when the end would come so he would be ready.