The Second Coming (1980)

Editor’s Note: On June 26, 2021, we had a “Ron Ormond Day” in tribute to his films. You’ll find the links to the reviews from that day of films — and others — within this review.

This is the one Ron Ormond film that eludes the staff of B&S About Movies. Sure, Sam and I are familiar with the film, as our religious schooling and church youth group years exposed us to all of Ron Ormond’s films — including this lost, final film of the Ormond’s from, as we like to call it, their “Damascus Years.”

Out of the Ormond’s six Fundamentalist films — seven, if one includes their also-lost, hour-long “travelogue/documentary” feature, The Land Where Jesus Walked (1975) — this is the one film (two, including Land) that is not available as a vintage-resale VHS or reissues DVD. As with all of Ron Ormond’s post-salvation catalogue, The Second Coming did not play in rural Drive-Ins or indoor theaters: it was “rented out” (in this case: $100 a showing, as per the one-sheet) as a “roadshow feature” in churches and tent revivals.

Courtesy of Letterboxd; the only online copy.

The Second Coming served as the directing debut of Ron’s son, Tim. Starting out as an actor in his father’s films: he starred in the family’s secular works Girl from Tobacco Row, White Lightin’ Road, and The Exotic Ones, then the Christian films If Footmen Tire You, The Burning Hell, The Grim Reaper, The Believer’s Heaven, and 39 Stripes. Tim matured to serve as an editor, cinematographer, writer (39 Stripes, The Second Coming), and director (the lost The Second Coming) on several Ormond family productions, which also included wife and mom, June Carr, on the production staff. Tim came to his directing debut through sadness: Ron Ormond died during the pre-production of The Second Coming — in 1981 at the age of 70s — leaving Tim and Ron’s widow to finish the film. June’s other films — under her maiden, professional name in the producer’s chair and as a Second Unit or Assistant Director include not only the above films, but Forty Acre Feud, The Monster and the Stripper, Please Don’t Touch Me, and the lost “jukebox musicals” Square Dance Jubilee and Kentucky Jubilee.

During our analog excavations to find an online stream or trailer to share (we were unsuccessful), we discovered an extensive, November 2007 interview with Tim Ormond, courtesy of Mondo Stumpo: an interview that assisted us in our additional documentation of The Second Coming. (We enjoyed the staff of Mondo Stumpo referring to the genre as “Christian Gore”; if you’re familiar with the Ormond’s “Pirkle” years, you know that’s a perfect analysis.)

We’d also extend our thanks to B. Earl Sink, Jr. — the son of Earl “Snake” Richards — in assisting us in our preserving of The Second Coming. As we’ve discussed in our previous reviews, Richards starred in two of Ron Ormond’s secular films: Girl From Tobacco Row (1966) and White Lightin’ Road (1967). Richards also starred in the non-Ormond “Jukebox Musical,” That Tennessee Beat (1966), by way of producer Robert L. Lippert, who produced many of the Ormond family’s works. It was during the course of that third film review, in which we came to speak with Earl Jr., who tipped us that he (regardless of the IMBb’s incomplete credits; they also have his mother’s credits split as “Carr” and “Ormond”) also acted in The Second Coming. And, as you read on, you’ll come to learn that four generations of the Sinks appeared in or crewed on Ormond productions.

If you’re familiar with the contemporary, Christian-apocalyptic oeuvre of Cloud Ten Pictures, with their B-star-studded Apocalypse series and their better known Left Behind series, as well as the films of David A.R. White’s PureFlix shingle (Jerusalem Countdown), or the ’70s Bible-apoc progenitors of Donald W. Thompson (A Thief in the Night), then you’re up-to-speed on the end-times tale in the frames of The Second Coming. But this is an Ormond film. And it is so much better for it: for Christian-based Ormond films come from the heart and, ironically, none are the least bit exploitative, although they appear on critical lists, i.e., “Christploitation,” as such.

As in the Ormond’s previous Estus Pirkle production, The Burning Hell: we have a similar, wayward youth in love with the world coming to find salvation through dreams, i.e., visions. This time, our scoffing youth, who dismisses his God-fearing mother and the family’s pastor, dreams of missing out on The Rapture. As with any Fundamentalist Ormond production — even the ones void of the crazed “Christian Gore” tutelage of Estus Pirkle — the imaginative creativity of the images presented in the frames is the always thing: God smites a Babylonian statue with a mighty rock (in repetitive, slow motion), dead saints of the past rise up out of their earthen graves, and new saints — the proclaimed 144,000 — vanish on the spot in an eye’s twinkle; then, in a grand, stunning piece of against-the-budget filmmaking (which we’ll get into detail, later): Jesus Christ returns with a phalanx of saints on white horses in the clouds.

Of course, our wayward lad returns to Jesus. As he should: Remember, Estus Pirkle warned us that communist invaders from Cuba would ram sharpened bamboo shoots through our brains via the ear canal, then dump our bodies in freshly bulldozed mass graves. Why would anyone want to stick around for those horrors?

As with the Pirkle trilogy — and the non-Pirkle The Grim Reaper — pastors show up, of course — six, in fact — amid the narrative with words of wisdom. Of course, while guys like Jack Van Impe and Jerry Falwell are committed and honorable in the word, it’s just not the same as having Estus ranting with his statistical analysis on the exact percentages of how many people end up in Hell, daily.

Hey, we can joke about the Pirkle trilogy, but the pastor, however off-putting he may be to secularists, he was committed to the cause. The Ormond family, on the other hand, created honorable, truthful films with a lighter touch. Fans of the Ormond’s Pirkle years may miss the “craze” of those films, here, and dismiss The Second Coming as less effective. We, the cubicle warriors of the B&S About Movies digital divide, do not: we adore all of Ron Ormond’s films.

Tim Ormond with mother June at a post-2000 convention signing/image courtesy of Dennis Dermody of Original Cinemanaic.

The Insights of Tim Ormond on the Making of The Second Coming

“After my dad died, I came to the final scene, which was the — and the way we got around things in general — was, someone would say, ‘That’s not the way it’s gonna be,’ and I’d say, ‘Well, this happened as kind of the way this person imagined it or dreamed it: like Daniel would have this dream.’ So that’s the way we would alibi things, [just] in case a theologian would say ‘Well that’s not the way it’s supposed to happen.’

“Anyway, this particular character in The Second Coming was visualizing Christ returning on white horses; wielding the sword, His face aglow. Well, I had to stage this scene. This was, of course, before computer graphics were like they are today. And even so, the cost would be prohibitive. So, I went to Hollywood, along with my Mom, and we looked up old friends; we found the wrangler who did Little House on the Prairie [for NBC-TV], as well as some old friends of my dad who’d worked on the Westerns [with Lash LaRue and Tex Ritter]. And I began to put together a crew and a shoot in Hollywood for staging this last [Christ in the clouds] scene.

“[While this was going on], I made a phone call to my friend in Nashville, Eddie King, who had played my brother in The Grim Reaper, and asked him if he could try to put together the same shoot in Nashville, because it would be much less expensive. So, I guess, just a few days before we were ready to go into production in Hollywood — and I’m just talking about on that one scene — I talked to Eddie, and he had put it together in Nashville. So we came back to Nashville to shoot it, merely from a cost standpoint.

“So, on that particular night, we gathered at the Riverwood Riding Academy, which was a great big field out near a park, not too far from my house, and people began to gather with the horses. We had a searchlight come in from Huntsville, which could basically shine this very bright, illuminating beam of light on Christ’s face: He was wearing a reflective surface so it would reflect the light back as bright as possible. He was dressed in the red robe, all the horses were white and groomed, all of his angels were riding alongside of him wearing white robes, we had fog on the ground, we had lights, we had big blowers running to move the fog. . . .

“And the funniest thing is, right exactly next door — I’m talking about a hundred yards away, but across a fence — was the park patrol. Just sitting there in the dark watching what was going on. And we didn’t know this. They didn’t bother us, but they were talking on their scanner. And one of my crew — actually the wife of the director of photography — was listening to them, and one guy said, ‘Come on, you’ve got to come over and see this! They’re doing a commercial for the Ku Klux Klan!’ So that was kind of a funny incident. But when it was done, it turned out very well. Of course, the ground was fairly dark on purpose, and there was a layer of fog. We superimposed that over the clouds, and it does appear like Christ returning triumphantly in the clouds. Which is a pretty graphical representation of the way it reads in the Bible. So that’s that one little scene.”

Earl and Rita Faye Sinks/courtesy of B. Earl Sinks, Jr. Facebook.

The Insights of B. Earl Sinks, Jr. on the Making of The Second Coming

“Ron [Ormond] wanted me to be in the film, as he wanted a 4th generation of our family to be in the film. Of course, my mother and grandparents were in Ormond films from back in California during the Lash LaRue days, as well as Square Dance Jubilee. My mom and grandparents also appeared in Girl From Tobacco Row, while my mom also did makeups for a few of the movies, like Burning Hell, and so on.

“So, Ron had my part written for me prior to his passing. Then Tim took over [as director]. I remember staying with Tim and June, his mom, rehearsing for the role along with Rev. Martin; he was in the movie 39 Stripes, which, as you know, was the story of his life. The reverend was such a Christ-like man that, to this day, I still think of him as such a sweet soul. When we finally got to the day of shooting, I recall when a cloud would pass over, or something wasn’t right, I would hear Tim call ‘CUT’ to end the scene. So, when we were shooting another scene, and I saw a cloud passing, I shouted, ‘CUT!’ like he did. Tim was tickled by that and let me know, jokingly, that he was the only one to say ‘CUT’ to end a scene. We all laughed.

“At the debut of the opening of the film, there was a man who thought my role, my acting, was good enough, so he asked me to read for a stage [production] of On Golden Pond. However, since it conflicted with school, my parents said ‘no’ to my audition. I also has a walk-on part in Tim’s Blood, Friends and Money with Jim Varney [but not as his character Ernest P. Worrell]; as I recall, my scene ended up on the cutting room floor.”

Bottom Right: Earl Sinks — aka Earl “Snake” Richards, the star of the Ormond’s Girl from Tobacco Row and White Lightin’ Road, as well as That Tennessee Beat — with the Crickets.

When you follow the links to our other Ron and Tim Ormond film reviews, you’ll understand the staff of B&S About Movies are fans, not only of the Ormonds’ secular films, but their Christian films, as well. We are doing our part to expose their films to our readers and preserve the Ormonds’ films for others to discover and enjoy — many for the first time.

To that end: We extend our thanks to Letterbox’d — and the anonymous uploader — who discovered a copy of the theatrical one-sheet of The Second Coming (the only copy of the theatrical one-sheet online). We also appreciate the film journalism efforts of Mondo Stumpo (still active, but ceased publishing in June 2012) and Original Cinemaniac for their previous efforts in preserving this lost Ron Ormond film.

And a special thanks to B. Earl Sinks, Jr. for taking the time to speak with B&S About Movies.

The Ormond’s Christian Films

If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (1971)
The Burning Hell (1974)
The Land Where Jesus Walked (1975)
The Grim Reaper (1976)
The Believer’s Heaven (1977)
39 Stripes (1979)
The Second Coming (1980)

Learn more about the Ormonds in the pages of Filmfax, Issue 27 (1991), preserved on The Internet Archive. (The extensive article begins on Page 40.)

Update: July 14. 2021: Courtesy of film documentarian Brian Rosenquist — who’s currently working on a feature documentary concerning the joint exploitation films of Ron Ormond and Estus Pirkle, and who was involved in securing the original camera elements for Estus Pirkle’s three films, for Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon) to complete restorations — we’ve since learned The Second Coming was, in fact, released to DVD ten years ago on a double-DVD with The Grim Reaper. You can watch an online streaming version of The Second Coming on a Ron Ormond tribute page located at the Internet Archive.

In addition to streaming the only online copy of The Second Coming, the page also offers a copy of The Burning Hell, as well as the once lost “Jukebox Musical” Kentucky Jubilee, and Ormond’s pre-Christian film, Mesa of Lost Women.

You can learn more about the restorations of the Ormond-Pirkle trilogy with the Radio NWR podcast Estus Pirkle: A Celebration.

A cinematic search of Man’s higher purpose and meaning.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

LEE MAJORS WEEK: Jerusalem Countdown (2011)

God bless Christians and their end of the world movies.

Seven backpack nukes, code named The Seven Wonders, have been placed in the U.S. by terrorists as the result of the battle for Jerusalem. FBI Agent Shane Daughtry (David A. R. White, the co-founder of Pure Flix Entertainment, as well as the co-writer and producer of this movie) and agent Eve Rearden (Anna Zielinski) must find these weapons before they destroy the world. Or at least America.

Where does Lee Majors fit in? Well, he’s Arlin Rockwell, the arms dealer who smuggled the weapons into the country. There’s also a Russian-Iranian terror cell called The Revolution of God, Stacy Keach as a retired G-Man and Randy Travis, of all people, as the Deputy Director of the CIA. Ironically, there are two different songs in this movie and neither are sung by Travis.

So yeah. A Christian spy epic that I only sat through because I love Lee Majors. I really will watch anything.

LEE MAJORS WEEK: Do You Believe? (2015)

Do You Believe? is kind of like Magnolia without the raining frogs, good music or characters that you actually worry and care about.

It’s the tale of a preacher who meets a street prophet who shakes him to the core.

And then you realize, hey, that street priest is Delroy Lindo and wow, the cast of this movie and the next thing you know, you’ve wasted an entire 115 minutes watching this.

The creators of God’s Not Dead got together a truly heavenly cast for this movie that’s kind of like Crash because it also has a car crash in it.

There’s Sean Astin as a kindly doctor, just holding out until he can get famous again when a monster from the Upside Down disembowels him! Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino! Alexa PenaVega from Spy Kids! Shark jumper Ted McGinley as that priest who has lost his faith! Cybill Shepherd, certainly in a place she never saw herself being in! Lee Majors, our reason for watching so many movies that we would have never watched if we weren’t doing a week of films in his honor! Brian Bosworth, who certainly deserves better! A rapper named Shwayze!

Look, I realize that a kid who grew up with apeirophobia — fear of eternity — and ouranophobia — fear of heaven — is not going to be the audience for this movie. Yet I know that Christian cinema can make astounding stuff like Ron Ormond’s films and A Thief In the Night. Why do contemporary Pure Flix movies play it so safe?

Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001)

Let me tell you what. One of my rules of films that no matter how little I want to watch a movie by its description, if Brian Trenchard-Smith directed it, chances are I’m going to love it.

A Christian end times movie based on the Left Behind series? I should despise this.

But there’s Trenchard-Smith’s name. And wait — Udo Keir playing a demon? Michael York having the absolute time of his life as the Antichrist? Michael Biehn as his heroic brother? Franco Nero as a general? R. Lee Ermey as the President? An appearance by Chad Michael Murray?

Yeah, I loved it.

This movie defines gigantic scope, but made on the budget of a TV episode and featuring CGI that looks Playstation 1 level in quality. It even has intros by various members of the Trinity Broadcasting Network giving testimony to its high quality. Dude, what kind of world do I live in where religious rich men give the maker of Turkey Shoot money to make movies about the end of the world?

There were so many moments during this film where I jumped around like a small child, throwing myself all over our movie room. This is the kind of film that I want more people to recognize, find and love.

To make it even better, Michael York wrote a journal while acting in this, Dispatches from Armageddon, and it became a book.

Also, imagine my glee realizing that this movie is basically a prequel and remake — I should have guessed because it had a number in the name — called The Omega Code. York also plays the Antichrist in a movie released by GoodTimes Entertainment.

That film has Casper Van Dien, Catherine Oxenberg, Michael Ironside and a soundtrack by Alan Howarth and Harry Manfredini, which, quite frankly, is blowing my mind right now. Even better, the original website has been saved by the Internet Archive and it is everything that a 1999 website should be.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Let There Be Light (2017)

Kevin Sorbo played Hercules on TV and in the movies, he’s been Kull and the star of  a series of Walking Tall movies. He’s also a nondenominational Christian who believes that his religious views have hurt his career.

“There’s a negativity towards Christians in Hollywood, and a negativity towards people who believe in God,” said Sorbo. He also considers himself politically independent, saying that he voted for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He also endorsed Donald Trump for President, claiming that “Jesus would have voted for Trump.”

So anyways. He made this movie.

Atheist Dr. Sol Harkens (Sorbo, who directed this film) debates a Christian leader, but more like destroys him on stage. Then he heads off to a party where he slams booze and strikes out with his own Russian model girlfriend before driving into a wall on the way home.

That’s when he finds himself in Heaven, where he meets his dead son David. He’s dead for about four minutes, which is an eternity in the afterlife or just enough time for David to tell him, “Let there be light.” This is a moment in our house like the secret word on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. I stand up, scream and throw things any time that someone says the name of the movie within a movie. For Let There Be Light, I exhausted myself. The title is repeated so many times, you’ll start angrily shouting it back at the characters.

That’s when the doctor discovers that he can’t be an atheist any longer. His Christian ex-wife Katy (Sam Sorbo, who co-wrote and co-produced this movie. In addition to playing Serena on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, she was also in Ed and His Dead Mother and is a Pittsburgh native) slowly starts to accept him, even if his kids are divided. Actually, I say that and this movie has no dramatic tension. They pretty much easily take him back.

The moment Dr. Sol proposes to Katy — literally as she’s telling the kids and asking them if it’s OK — she has a seizure because she has a rare form of brain cancer and is about to die.

Dr. Sol reacts to this news with the knowledge that it’s God’s plan. Yes, the man who railed against people when his son died is now cool that his wife is past the point of treatment. God works in mysterious ways.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity shows up and it’s treated as if he’s a bigger deal than Oprah. If I told you that he was an executive producer on this film, that may explain both points of the sentence above.

That’s when our hero has a masterstroke: he wants everyone in the world to shine their lights to the sky at night at the same time so that God can see us. Yes, even the horrible folks in Isis, who this movie takes multiple opportunities to attack.

The night of the Let There Be Light event, the Harkens sing Christmas carols and Dr. Sol’s wife dies in front of everyone. The end.

I wish that you guys could have heard this movie explained to me by my mother-in-law. I really do love the family I married into, but man, they really love films like this. I was in tears the entire time because I kept saying what the next plot twist was as she told me and I was correct every time. Of course the wife dies!

Sorbo brought along Daniel Roebuck (The FugitiveU.S. Marshalls), character actor Gary Grubbs, Travis Tritt, Dionne Warwick and one-time mobster and now motivational speaker Michael Franzese as Father Vinnie, who is now a made man in the eyes of the Lord. I yelled every one of his lines back to him in Andrew “Dice” Clay’s voice. Ohh!

This was a Sorbo family affair, with even their two kids, Braeden and Shane, playing the kids of the Harkins, Gus and Conner. It’s a natural follow-up to Sorbo’s work in God’s Not Dead.

Much like Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, making fun of this movie makes me feel like I’m making fun of kids who were only allowed to watch The Waltons and Little House on the Prarie. So, you know, acting like I do pretty much all of the time. The one moment that I enjoyed here was a poster of one of Dr. Harkins’ books, that said that Hercules was more real than Jesus. Cute one, Sorbo family.

Watch this on Amazon Prime.

You can learn more about this movie at its official site.