Sunday, September 30, 2012

David Hilton and the Raiders of the Lost Idol of Evil: "Idol of Evil" (2011)

Kevin McDonagh and A.J. Nicol pay homage (or rip off) "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in this British low budgeter.

Dr. David Hilton (Richard Cambridge) is an expert in mythology who has just been suspended from the university where he teaches (for being a jerk). David is contacted by two priests, both dressed like they should be backing up Gladys Knight, and is assigned to find an idol that a former friend had been searching for. That former friend is now missing, and David goes to the man's wife's (Tracey Sheldon) flat to get some clues. He happens to have the map to the secret idol burial spot in northern England, where he should find a skull. When that skull is used as a vessel for the already recovered "Eye of Kali," it can turn into a monstrous weapon.

One problem is that a team led by Father Calvert (Eley Furrell, looking like Tim Curry in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") and Nixon (Adrian Bouchet) are already digging for the skull, thanks to a fragment of the map they took from David...but they are digging in the wrong place. David, with the help of very cute research assistant/love interest Lucy (Stephanie Elliott) must stop the bad guys in time since the fate of humanity rests in their hands.

As if the Indiana Jones series did not make archaeology look action packed enough, McDonagh and Nicol penned this blatant attempt. The limited budget hinders any huge action scenes, and the film makers are reduced to sad little fistfights and dubbed gunfire that rarely hits anyone. McDonagh does have a fantastic directorial eye, however, and with some more money and a better script, he is capable of doing something fantastic.

The cast is bland, Cambridge does not have the gravitas to pull off the hero role. While the film is being marketed as a horror and gore extravaganza, the blood and violence never rise above a PG-13 level of mayhem. One aspect that does work, and saves this from being a disaster, is David Staiger's giant musical score. The epic orchestral swells make the film seem bigger than it is, and weak scenes seem better.

"Idol of Evil" trudges along, ignoring its own innate predictability, hoping no one watching has ever seen the Indiana Jones series. The closing credits promise that "David Hilton Will Return," hopefully he will bring a better adventure with him. (* *) out of five stars.