Released in 1999, End of Days is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s only horror film to date – apart from Batman & Robin, obviously.
This Jesus Creeper is set around New Year’s Eve 1999, when all the idiots were worried about the world ending. But it turns out the idiots are correct and the party of the millennium is about to be gatecrashed by none other than Satan, played with excellent suaveness by Gabriel Byrne – a staple of Scary Mary cinema, also appearing in Stigmata the same year.
And who would humanity elect to battle Satan for their survival? Why, Arnold Schwarzenegger of course. He plays a retired cop, now working for a private security company. Because of some plot, he ends up protecting a woman named Christine (Robin Tunney) from the Satanic forces that threaten New York.
On paper, the combination of Arnie and satanic horror sounds like the perfect film. In reality, the crap dialogue and dumb story leave you begging for the apocalypse. One particularly stupid plot-point reveals the truth behind the Satanic number 666 – turns out, we’ve been looking at it upside down all along. The number of the beast is actually 999. More shocking still, 999 is a bit like 1999 – so Satan is coming in 1999! But not because of New Year’s Eve, as you might think. It’s actually to do with a temporary celestial alignment. Apparently.
Or there’s the moment when the words “Christ in New York” are carved into someone’s chest. Our Austrian hero realises that it actually means “Christine York”, which turns out to be the name of Tunney’s character. But which is it? Christ in New York or Christine York? They’re not even anagrams – it’s just a lucky guess. A very lucky guess.
And why is Arnie investigating this case in the first place? He’s no longer a detective, he’s a security guard – so who’s granting him access to all these crime scenes and hospital wards? On the plus side, it’s one of Arnie’s better performances – without him, this film would be as terrible as the weird breakfast smoothie he drinks at the start of the movie.
Arnie makes the film funny in a way that probably wasn’t intended as only he can. His delivery of now classic lines (“You’re a fucking choirboy compared to me!”) and incessant garbled screaming (“Aaarrrrggghhh!”) makes End of Days oddly entertaining. He responds to Satan the same way he responds to everything – to shoot it. With a really big gun. And when that doesn’t work, shoot it again.
So it’s certainly not a good film, but it’s not the end of the world. It combines horror with good action, great effects and the sight of the erstwhile Governor of California firing a machine gun in church – which resembles an advert for one of those crazy American churches and foreshadows that scene in The Expendables. Ultimately, End of Days is another nonsensical a-pope-alypse movie – but it is Arnie versus Satan. No complaints there.