Movie: It’s About the Second Coming (1980)

Having subjected myself to all of Ron Ormond’s religious films, it was time to see if his son Tim is a better filmmaker.  I don’t believe I am being unnecessarily cruel when I say the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.  To use some biblical phrasing, one nut begat another.

Following the template of his father’s films, Tim gives us an assortment of “doctors”, all of whom doubtlessly received that accreditation from a Bible college.  All of them sound like salesmen, which is what they are, essentially. 

Estus Pirkle, the “star” of the previous Ormond religious films, had moved on, so we get John Calvert as our narrator. In a unique, and bizarre, creative decision, many scenes end with actors freezing up, the lights dimming, and Calvert appearing on screen to embellish upon what we had just seen.  It is a bit jarring each time this happens.

The padding around these segments is largely about the anti-christ and the mark of the beast and all that Omen III stuff.  Here, the world is united under one government.  I used to attend a church where people were scared of the UN because they thought that organization was the first step towards Satan ruling the world.  I guess some people today still feel that way, given all the hatred I have heard spewed towards the UN in recent years.

The future, as portrayed here, is roughly one block of alleyway.  It is here that a small group of Christians are fleeing some agents of the world police, which is just some guys who don’t look very intimidating.  The obvious influence is movies like Escape from New York, but this barely looks like it could be Escape from Poughkeepsie.  Also, when Calvert appears at the end of this segment, it creates this weird moment of false association where he seems complicit with the bad guys hunting down the Christians.

In an attempt to make this seem science-fictiony, the sound of some sort of machinery accompanies the raising and lower of the visor on some guy’s motorcycle helmet.  Needless to say, this wouldn’t convince even the youngest child.  The actor wearing the helmet raises the bar for going over-the-top, even for the movies in this series.  He positively seethes with hatred towards Christians, and his lines are so bad that I wondered if whoever authored them had ever heard a real person speak.  To be fair, this is also how the bad guys talk in Jack Chick tracts, so there is a precedent.

In general, there is a weird disconnect between these films (and the mindset they cater to) and how real humans behave.  At one point, a radio announcer says “multitudes” of people have mysteriously disappeared.  But that is a word only people of certain branches of fundamentalism would use, yet these people assume everybody uses such a term.  And I liked how the radio announcer just goes back to playing music, as if a mysterious mass disappearance must not be that big of a news item.

Also typical of this mindset, there is a perverse creativity to the violence.  One device shown for murdering Christians is a cross between a pendulum and a guillotine.  I could not help but be reminded of a recurring device used by agents of the anti-Christ in some of those Chick publications, which was a guillotine on the back of a pickup truck. 

There’s also, yet again, much focus on the torments of Christ, and I will never understand why these people so relish seeing somebody they supposedly love so much going through so much pain.  Then again, this movie also opens with the Bible story of Abraham about to kill his only son because the Lord demands this sacrifice.  Then God, the ultimate practical joker, basically goes, “Just kidding!”  This is one of the stories most beloved by many Christians and I, once again, am baffled and repulsed.

Some relief is provided by the expected high camp value quotient.  Much of this movie is about the rapture, an event where God instantaneously recalls all Christians back to Heaven.  Jesus rising into the heavens is not too dissimilar to the end of camp favorite The Apple, just without the luxury car.  Which is a shame, because I wanted to see him ascend in a luxury horse-drawn chariot.  Then there’s a corpse in a white shroud popping out the ground as if they are a stiff plank and there’s a hinge at their heels.  SPROINGGG!!! I laughed quite hard at that, as well as at the plight of a southern preacher who a demon decides is just too powerful to live. Yeah…*cough*…those po-dunk preachers are really *cough*

It’s About the Second Coming is, indeed, about the rapture and the anti-Christ, but it also wanders down some strange tangents, as I have come to expect from such pictures.  One of those tangents is to declare disco is evil, so I guess I can agree with them on at least one thing.

Dir: Tim Ormond

Starring John Calvert, Tim Ormond

Watched as part of the Powerhouse/Indicator blu-ray box set From Hollywood to Heaven: The Lost and Saved Films of the Ormond Family