Every week, I scour Netflix for a movie rated at one star and put it in my queue, suffering through it for your entertainment so that you don't have to. In the past, I've taken on anime cancer demons, softcore Iraq War porn and racist ventriloquism, and now it's time to do it again.
Outlaw Prophet (1999)
Starring: David Heavener, God (uncredited cameo)
In the months that I've been writing the Worst of Netflix, one of the biggest revelations for me was the existence of David Heavener, the self-described "action star of the '90s" and right-wing nutcase who first appeared in this column with his anti-gun control action picture, Twisted Justice. While writing that one, I discovered that Heavener has no fewer than fourteen films under his belt as writer/director, and what better way to kick off 2010 than with a look at another gem.
This time around, it's Outlaw Prophet, in which The Heave attempts to entertain and instruct (and fails at both) through what can only be described as Biblical Science Fiction, or BiSciFi, a bold new genre that utilizes the best CGI a Commodore 64 could generate:
Heavener stars (of course Heavener stars) as John 141, an interplanetary reality TV star from a culture so advanced that their spaceships are lit exclusively with blacklights and glow-in-the-dark paint. He exists purely at the whim of the sinister Executive Producer (one of many aliens with mysterious Southern accents), who sends him bopping around the cosmos with a telepathic computer named Molly, with whom he utterly fails to save civilizations from being blown up.
For this week's episode of "Escape 2020," the target is Earth, and so John 141 is sent down to lovely Paris, Tennessee, where he puts on an outfit consisting of a leather jacket, dance tights, and a Star Trek: The Next Generation shirt with the Starfleet logo covered up by an American Flag patch:
At that point, it becomes increasingly clear that this movie was made out of things that Heavener had laying around. Heavener's spaceship contains a complex life support system built around a NES Advantage™ controller , Molly is a sentient rotating Disco light that communicates through a universal remote with the faceplate removed, and pan-galactic television is controlled with the same soundboard that Rick James used to mix "Party All the Time." There's no attempt whatsoever made to disguise these things - props and making sense being below the concerns of an auteur like The Heave - so that you're just left to roll with it when an Apple IIe is suddenly able to intercept a mute child's prayers.
To say that the plot is aimless and meandering is sort of like saying that the Titanic had a slight plumbing problem. It's more like Heavener decided to reinforce the Biblical aspects by creating a movie that actually felt like forty years of wandering the desert out of the sight of God. There's a music video (starring Heavener, of course) at the 40-minute mark for no particular reason, John keeps having dreams that are flashbacks to the Rapture (which happens in the future), and Molly comes to life as the busty ex-Knight Rider ingénue Rebecca Holden so that she can give an out-of-nowhere speech about the dangers of violent entertainment. Which, again, comes from a writer/director whose other films include Twisted Justice, about the folly of cops being made to bother with non-lethal weapons, and Kill Crazy, wherein he plays a Vietnam vet that becomes an "engine of revenge" to kill Burt Ward.
Eventually, with about a half-hour left, the movie remembers that it actually does have a plot laying around here somewhere, and it becomes clear that Heavener has cast himself as Space Jesus. Heavener looks up the Bible on his space computer and starts referencing both John 1:41 ("We have found the Anointed One") and John 14:1 ("Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.") to prepare viewers for the end of the movie, where he both heals the sick and sacrifices himself in battle with the Space Devil to save humanity.
We did mention there's a Space Devil, right?
Yes, the evil Executive Producer is revealed to be Satan himself, whose powers - in accordance with the Revelation of St. John - include speaking with a southern accent, creating hit reality shows, and transforming into the only black guy in the movie so that he can "crucify" David Heavener with space karate.
True to form, Space Jesus comes back to life after his sacrifice and, along with his wife (the one who had previously only shown up as a waltzing angel in John 141's dreams) he adopts the formerly mute girl. And then the Executive Producer comes back as a guy who makes violent television because... hell, I don't know. Time travel?
Look, all you need to know is that David Heavener fights the Space Devil with karate, and yet still somehow manages to make one of the worst movies I've ever seen. That in itself is an achievement.
|Chris Sims is a freelance comedy writer from South Carolina. He briefly attended USC before he dropped out to spend more time with Grand Theft Auto, and his career subsequently took the path that you might expect from someone who makes that sort of decision. He blogs at http://www.the-isb.com and creates comics at http://www.actionagecomics.com.|