“Pop Video Horror - With Extra Dan Brown & Fighting Priests!”
Before director Rupert Wainwright made the rubbish remake of THE FOG (2005) and THE COLLECTED VIDEOS OF MC HAMMER (2002), and after producer Frank Mancuso Jr helped deliver numerous crappy FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels to an unsuspecting (and frequently unforgiving) public, the two combined their talents to make STIGMATA, now out in the UK on a dual format Blu-ray and DVD combo set from Eureka.
I know, it doesn’t sound terribly promising from the off, does it? Patricia Arquette’s the star of this one, playing Frankie Paige, hairdresser and atheist, who seems to keep an inordinate number of Ritz Cracker boxes in her flat (watch out for them as the camera closes in on her in bed early on). Frankie works at some kind of hairdressing salon-cum-tattoo parlour, goes to nightclubs and generally indulges in the kind of habits that suggest this film is trying terribly hard to make out she’s a bit of an edgy sort, when in fact the girls in a Rob Zombie picture would be overwhelmed by how hygienic and clean living she and her friends are.
Frankie starts to get stigmata. Punctures appear in her wrists, she is subject to a ghostly whipping on the underground, and hawthorn tree-like scratches appear on her forehead. What’s going on?
Evil Catholic Priest Head of the Vatican Jonathan Pryce (because you just know he’s going to be) despatches defrocked organic chemist and born again Catholic priest Gabriel Byrne to find out if there’s anything to ‘that CCTV video on the Pittsburgh subway’ (it must be a quiet week, potential miracle-wise).
Gabriel finds Patricia doing a sub-Italian EXORCIST routine while writing Aramaic on the walls of her flat. Could she be Jesus trying to communicate? Could this have anything to do with the mythical so-called Gospel of Jesus that Jonathan Pryce and his gang have been trying to suppress by excommunicating anyone who discovers anything about it? If this was an OMEN movie they would all have died in ludicrous but jolly creative deaths. But it isn’t, so instead we have to put up with Mr Wainwright’s rather overly flashy pop video way of telling this particular convoluted tale as the movie heads off with gay abandon into Dan Brown conspiracy theory territory.
STIGMATA is quite daft, and it gets dafter the more the film tries to explain itself. That's actually a shame as I was quite enjoying Ms Arquette bleeding for no reason and writing on walls until the explanation came along. It’s certainly not boring, though, and if you fancy something that’s a cross between one of David Seltzer’s TV God squad mini-series things like REVELATIONS (2005) minus Natascha McElhone’s sexy nun but with lots of extra Dan Brown and Catholic priests having a scrap you’ll have fun with this. I just wish FATHER TED had done a version of it.
Eureka’s release comes with a Rupert Wainwright commentary track, a making of, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, a music video with Natalie Imbruglia (now that takes me back), trailer and isolated music (some of which is by Billy Corgan) and effects track.
Rupert Wainwright's STIGMATA is coming out from Eureka in a dual format DVD and Blu-ray set on Monday 17th October 2016