Because of his current standing as a living legend of the screen, it may be hard to recognize that Kirk Douglas's career was on the skids in the 1970s. When you compare his output from the great decade with his peers (Lancaster, Mitchum, Holden, Peck) it's not that impressive. Even Peck was skidding a bit, but Kirk had to notice what The Omen did for Greg. But to get similar results, at the time, Douglas had to go to Europe (where he'd done The Master Touch a few years earlier) for this Anglo-Italo production was set up for the director of Blazing Magnum. I've watched that recently without reviewing it here, but its two great highlights -- the stunt-happy car chase scene and Stuart Whitman's bruising brawl with a gang of transvestites -- further encouraged me to try Holo--I mean Rain of Fire.
It's not such an Omen ripoff after all. Look: Douglas's character Robert Caine is a businessman, not a diplomat, and the Antichrist is practically grown up, not a toddler. Oh, all right, people have a funny way of dying when they could mess up the infernal plan, but wouldn't the Devil do that anyway even if there had never been an Omen? Anyway, the plan is different, too, though the makers of Holocaust 2000 didn't know going in what the long range plan was for the Omen franchise -- and they didn't know their film would be renamed Rain of Fire, either. But Omenologists will recall that Damien's plan is to pretty much make everyone miserable so that they'd renounce God, while Angel Caine (Simon Ward) simply wants to kill everyone in a nuclear holo--(sigh) --rain of fire.
How does Robert Caine happen to raise an Antichrist? I cannot tell you, but it seems to have something to do with little Angel strangling a twin to death in Mommy's womb. Also, carrying the genes of an avatar of Kirk will give you a certain degree of cussedness even before other powers intervene. But it all does seem to be part of a plan, as our hero begins to discover strange numerological coincidences linking his big Middle Eastern nuclear power project with some of the symbolism of the Apocalypse. Some people don't like this idea simply because of the pollution it might cause. Protesters dog Caine's every step, chanting: What do our children want to be when they grow up? Alive! Them he won't believe, but all those coincidences get him having very strange dreams.
I'm an atheist, but I'd still have this guy
pegged as an Antichrist just on appearances. Simon Ward in the film formerly
known as Holocaust 2000.
I don't think Kirk Douglas would know how to merely go slumming in exploitation cinema. He earned stardom in a series of apoplectic performances (Champion, Detective Story, Ace in the Hole) in which his characters drove themselves into early graves by force of pure will, it seemed, and at moments here he taps into that early fury. He throws himself into the show with Bela-like commitment, putting himself through more than Lugosi ever had to endure in a picture. Two scenes stand out: a feverish dream sequence that requires him to run naked through a desert and martyr himself (sort of) in a crowd of demonstrators; and a furious insane asylum visit that comes off less like Douglas's dream project of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and more like Shock Corridor, albeit with more color and violence.
Since I left out the bit where Douglas smashes an assailant's skull with that plank, I may as well show you the other gore highlight. A change in government in the Middle East has jeopardized Caine's power-plant project, so it's up to Satan to do something about it, helicopter style.
I don't mean to suggest that it was all hard knocks for poor Kirk in Europe. After all, he gets to go shoulders-&-sheets with the charming Agostina Belli, so charming a female that the innocent fawns of the forest are drawn to her.
Everybody loves Agostina Belli in (with apologies to Lionsgate) Holocaust 2000.