The 10 Worst Movies About Jesus05/27/2008
When your choices to play Jesus are limited to the talent pool of Lawton, Oklahoma, you end up with Millard Coody, seen here in his star turn in Prince of Peace.
(Not Counting The Passion of the Christ Because That Would Be Too Easy)
By Danny Gallagher
You would think the opportunity to play Jesus Christ in a major motion picture would be a distinction even more amazing than playing Hamlet, since Jesus is someone that no human could ever thoroughly understand unless he had the mind of God. Well, think again. Chances are the reason the director picked you is because you're the guy who couldn't afford haircuts and you owned a dusty pair of Man Sandals.
These are the movies that make the story of the Son of Man look like the story for Son of Flubber.
Keeping Jesus off camera for most of "The Robe" is the only thing 20th Century-Fox ever did to help Christianity.
This film may have been nominated for an Oscar, but so was Norbit.
Richard Burton, Shakespeare’s worst nightmare, plays Marcellus, a Roman soldier who crucifies Jesus and then wins his robe in a drunken game of dice. Since he can't put the thing up for sale on eBay, he decides to hang on to it. But instead of being the historical keepsake, bathroom rug or future dorm curtain he hoped it would be, the robe tortures him to no end. The very touch of it burns his skin and after he gets rid of it, disturbing dreams of Jesus' death and having to marry Elizabeth Taylor haunt him. The film attempts to portray the power of Jesus Christ by showing how even his outfit can kick your ass.
Widescreen Cinemascope Technicolor made the robe of Jesus look like a fuzzy-wuzzy blankie.
This was the first movie filmed in wide-screen Cinemascope, the format that was supposed to save Hollywood from the threat of television, but all it did was establish the principle that a dirty tube sock magnified a thousand times on a Technicolor screen will still look like a dirty tube sock. Everyone turns the overacting up to 11, which for Burton goes to the level of a drunken Renaissance Faire actor padding his resume.
For the role of Jesus himself, director Henry Koster decided to save money and just use his second unit director, which means the poor guy had to perform just about all of his normal duties in full costume. The studio wouldn't even let him eat in the cafeteria because they felt it was inappropriate for Jesus to be seen eating there in public. Come on, he may be the Son of Man, but that doesn't mean he never needed a Hungry Man meal.
Go-go dancers always help with the "hard sayings."
JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER
There are a ton of B-movie horror flicks centered around Jesus Christ as a bad-ass spiritual hunter sent back to Earth to rid the world of demons and prevent the Second Coming, but this is definitely the best and that's not really a complement.
This cult favorite is so crammed to the brim with mixed genres that its mere stench lifts the lid off the jar and overflows with oozing mediocrity. It's a kung-fu movie. It's a splatterfilm. It's a Mexican wrestling film. It's a musical! It's a Jesus film with multiple personality disorder. And all of them are batshit insane.
JESUS, THE MINI-SERIES
CBS decided to go high concept with the whole Christ thing.
It's May 1999 and it's sweeps week. All the other networks have big boffo blockbusters lined up to trick people into watching as much television as possible, but CBS executives find themselves standing out in the cold with nothing but old Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder reruns on your schedule, guaranteed to attract the oldest demographic since the Weather Channel went on the air. What do you do? Simple. You play on people's fears about the coming Year 2000 apocalypse and produce a made-for-TV Jesus biopic that’s bloodier and more over-the-top than all three of the Evil Dead films combined.
One of the rare times that "bringing the story up to date" was taken literally.
This scene of the final crucifixion features actor Jeremy Sisto being brutally nailed to the cross as he tries to convey agony by screaming the loudest of any torture victim in history. When Jesus tells his father to forgive them for they know not what they do, a grinning Livio--played by G.W. Bailey, better known as Rizzo on *M*A*S*H* and Captain Harris on Police Academy-says in his best Bond villain voice, "We know what we're doing. We're killing you." Oh snap, Jesus! You just got served.
Then in the end he comes back to life in the modern day and beams down Star Trek-style into a short-haired early-thirties guy who greets a group of schoolchildren with a warm hug and walks them out of frame, making you think Jesus suffered for two days and rose from the dead on the third so he could come back to life and babysit for us.
Well, yeah, that's probably what he would look like.
If Night of the Living Dead director George Romero became a born-again Christian, got a ton of funding from a religious film studio and decided to resurrect (no pun intended) his famed zombie movie franchise for a Christian audience, this wouldn't be the movie he would make.
This little film festival puddle jumper conjectures that the reason Jesus returns from the dead is so he can feast on the brain of the living, which we're sure isn't kosher even if you kill the
human a certain way.
Should we take "Zombie Jesus" off our resumes?
It's hard to tell from the trailer if the film is an allegorical tale of literal Biblical translation run amok or just another zombie comedy that tries to ride on the coattails of Shaun of the Dead. If it's the second, you can rest assured there won't be any "Take this and eat it, for this is my body" jokes since the film follows Return of the Living Dead zombie rules, which require zombies to eat brains only, and not Night of the Living Dead zombie rules, which allow the undead to consume the entire body.
IN SEARCH OF HISTORIC JESUS
The poster had a strange resemblance to the poster for "I Spit On Your Grave," but let's not dwell on that.
If faux-science shows like Unsolved Mysteries and In Search Of . . . attempted to tackle the Messiah story, of course they'd have to release their merry band of over-actors to reenact the story of Jesus in ways that made you giggle as a kid in places you weren't supposed to until the pressure from your sinus would blow your brains clean out of the back of your skull.
This schlock docudrama attempted to tackle that very subject. The movie features a stuffy, glass-eyed "historian" who uses the Shroud of Turin as an excuse to research the history of Jesus Christ, complete with so much hammy acting, the film will make you want to go kosher.
Since it ran in drive-ins across the country for years, it was allowed to feature the full crucifixion experience in all of its fake gory glory. So let's do those drive-in totals. We've got two nailed wrists, one stabbed chest, spear fu, Roman fu, Jew fu, Wrath of God fu and no aardvarking. We give it zero stars.
THE PRINCE OF PEACE, a/k/a THE LAWTON STORY
Six-year-old Ginger Prince failed to become the next Shirley Temple.
Have any of you parents out there ever sat at one of your children's Sunday School Nativity pageant and thought you'd like to see your own kids acting out the birth of Jesus on the big screen? Hell no.
Despite that fact of life, that's pretty much what William “One-Shot” Beaudine did with a passion play from Lawton, Oklahoma. Beaudine got his nickname because he reputedly directed more than 350 films without ever asking for a second take. For this project, he was working for the legendary showman Kroger Babb, who specialized in traveling roadshows that would pack the local theater for three days of “educational” or “inspirational” screenings, followed by a quick exit to the next town. Beaudine and Babb took a local production and interspersed it with a film about a young girl who convinces his greedy rich uncle to see the passion play so it will open his eyes to the value of serving, not taking from, his fellow man. The acting in this thing is not only bad, but the Sooner accents were so thick that the entire film had to be redubbed because the angry mob in Jerusalem never sentenced Jesus to die by announcing "Git-r-Done!"
This is what's known as a William Beaudine action sequence.
Babb took the film on the road and then tried to sell the audience Bibles after the screening, which wasn't very successful because the movie ran four hours. It's hard to sell Bibles to a bunch of people whose faces had melted off from boredom.
The film became an even bigger failure when it tried to launch the career of Ginger Prince, the actress who plays the little girl in the film, as an attempt to step on the pituitary gland of an aging Shirley Temple. Again, films that melt faces off of their audiences won't help your career, not even in a "so bad it's good" kind of way.
Enrique Irazoqui managed to retain this one expression throughout the entire film.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW
Some of the world's most astute film critics and historians have lauded Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini's retelling of the Gospel of Matthew with glowing words that will never be used to describe directors like Ed Wood, Uwe Boll and the guy who made the Rollerball remake. But anyone who’s ever had to sit through it in film class, struggling with the idea of a Marxist Jesus with a homosexual subtext, will realize why Pasolini boasted about his lack of research. He basically turns the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ into a kung-fu flick starring George Takei as Judas. Oh my.
Pasolini's Mary is not happy about being knocked up.
Pasolini–an atheist who was expelled from the Communist Party and had a movie based on the Marquis de Sade banned by the Italian government before being knifed to death by a gay hustler in 1975–films the Christ story with a shaky-cam documentary style that even gives blind people headaches. Some of the Jewish leaders have hats so ridiculous that even the Pope wouldn't wear them.
You can't go wrong with Spandex.
Look, up in the sky! It's a skydiving hippie! It's that guy from Three Dog Night in a jetpack! No, it's Ultrachrist!
In this low low low low low budget film that looks like it was filmed in every high-rent/low-maintenance apartment in the Big Apple, director Kerry Douglas Dye poses the scenario that if Jesus returned to Earth he'd have to reinvent his image by taking on the persona of a superhero in divine Spandex. Well, at least he's got the body for it. That's right, Affleck, I'm looking at you, flabby.
Jonathan C. Green, as Ultrachrist, evangelizes the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire.
Christ runs around New York City in his street-bought sandals and clip-on utility belt that doesn't seem to be holding any utilities in his never-ending quest to fight crime. Eventually the big man upstairs decides he doesn't like his favorite son's new public persona and the Antichrist is on the rise and Christ finds himself stuck between appeasing his father or ridding the Earth of unholy evil, much in the same way the audience finds themselves struggling to either return the video to the store for a full refund or throw the thing in an incinerator to spare anyone else from watching it.
The poster depicts the famous gospel passage in which Jesus heals a midget housewife.
THE MIRACLE MAKER
Get ready to see Jesus like you've never him before--in crappy, old-fashioned stop-motion animation that even kids don't use when they're making Star Trek fan films in their basement.
If you thought that Sunday school film of the death and resurrection had more wooden and hollow actors than a Renaissance faire, wait until you see these actors who are actually made out of hollow wood. It's a stop-motion "3-D" film of the Jesus story that looks like the makers of Robot Chicken phoned in their last episode so they could clear the animation studio space for Assy McGee in time.
Unfortunately it's difficult to distinguish between Jesus and his cross in this stop-motion wooden-figurine classic.
It also features an all-star cast of celebrity voices including Alfred Molina, Miranda Richardson and Ralph Fiennes as the voice of Jesus, because, after all, the Son of Man spoke with a stuffy British accent though he was born and raised in abject Bethlehemic poverty.
The cast of "The Da Vinci Code" attempting to get that perfect Louvre snapshot where you look like the Mona Lisa and you can put it up on your myspace page.
THE DAVINCI CODE
The book that everyone in your office cubicle said you have to read is now a big-budget overblown movie without any big words or scary facts about religion to give you a headache. The book and movie dares to uncover the greatest cover-up in the history of the Catholic Church, unless you don't count the church's refusal to stand against the Holocaust and the string of priest molestations and the selling of indulgences as a form of penance and the fact that eating meat on Friday between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is no longer a damnable sin.
Tom Hanks fondles the holy grail.
The movie suggests that the Son of Man was also quite the Ladies' Man because of an alteration in Leonardo DaVinci's famed "Last Supper" painting. Of course, it doesn't get to that juicy little tidbit until after two-thirds of the most excruciatingly bad acting and dialogue is done. But it doesn't end there. There's this big M. Night Shyamalan ending that reveals Jesus had a family tree, and after you calculate what you’ve had to sit through to get to that one scene, you realize that Christ may have died on the cross for our sins, but now we’ve paid him back by remaining faithful all the way to the excruciatingly painful end.