Okay, so we’re cheating with this review. It doesn’t star John Doe, the subject of our week-long film tribute.
This parody on organized religion and the mass communication medium of television directed by New York No Wave artist Beth B stars Doe’s ex-wife Exene Cervenka, who meet her second husband Viggo Mortensen on the set of this, her only acting role. Beth B made her feature film debut with the 16-mm black & white film Vortex (1981) starring Lydia Lunch (Blank Generation, Mondo New York) and a young James Russo (later a go-to heavy in films such as Beverly Hills Cop and Donnie Brasco).
Stepthen McHattie (Theodore Rex) stars in this black comedic statement on the televangelist craze of the ’80s (think Jim and Tammy Bakker) as Reverend Randall, a flock-bilking preacher who likes to compose and rehearse his sermons while watching pornography. His religious empire begins to crumble when the unemployed Jerome Stample (Viggo Mortensen), who grows tired his wife Rhonda (Cervenka) donating to Randall’s church, devises a blackmail plot with his sister-in-law (the singular Dominique) to ensnare the reverend in a sex scandal.
Surprisingly, the film’s soundtrack doesn’t feature the music of Cervenka or director Beth B’s frequent collaborator Lydia Lunch; it instead spins the popular college radio and new wave club hits “Sputnik,” “Touched by the Hand of God,” and “Skullcrusher” by New Order, and “Jesus Saves” and “Twanky Party” by Cabaret Voltaire — along with a few tunes by co-star Dominique (Davalos), who would form the Delphines with former Go-Go Kathy Valentine in the late ’90s.
While it was released on VHS and appeared on HBO, Salvation! has never been released on DVD, while the vinyl-only soundtrack has never been reissued on CD. The film was previously offered as a VOD stream on Amazon Prime, but has since been pulled from release. You can, however, watch the film through a series of clips uploaded to a playlist by a You Tuber known as “McHattie Fan.”