The Unholy (1988)

Yes, at one time, Vestron actually released movies into theaters, like this late 80’s occult offering, directed by Cuban-born Camilo Vila and starring his roommate at the time, UK actor English Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire). It’s all about priests in New Orleans being confronted by quite literally a scarlet woman who leads them all to damnation. Oh yeah — it also has a great set up for the ending ruined by a very puppet-like final monster. As much as we love practical effects, we realize when they fail, too.

There used to be a priest named Father Dennis who was killed by that demonic woman. Now, Father Michael (Cross) is taking over for him. On one of his first nights in New Orleans, he’s launched out a window and survives.

Turns out that there’s this S&M club — look it was 1988, alright? — and the owner Luke is pretty much the devil, owning the souls of the women who work there like Millie, who confessed to Father Dennis right before his death.

It all leads up to all manner of demons attacking a church and attempting to kill our hero, who somehow has the power to send them all to Hell. There’s also a blind priest straight out of The Sentinel, Ned Beatty (contracturally obliged to be in any movie set in the American South), the kind off full frontal nudity that upsets your wife, Hal Holbrook as a priest in a movie with plenty of fog that isn’t The Fog and a Virgin Mary statue that weeps tears of blood.

This is the kind of movie that wants so desperately to be art, as director Vila claimed in interviews that it was not a horror film. Guess what? It’s totally a horror film.

It was written by Philip Yordan. Yes, the same Philip Yordan who won an Oscar for writing the movie Broken Lance, a movie that was actually written by the blacklisted Joseph L. Mankiewicz. He also wrote two of the most bonkers films I’ve ever seen, Cry Wilderness and Night Train to Terror

Trust me when I say that this movie is no Night Train to Terror.

You can get the Vestron Video collector blu ray at Diabolik DVD.

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