Being a fan of both Henry Rollins and trashy horror films, I was intrigued to seek out Jason Connery’s 2009 direct-to-video horror The Devil’s Tomb. Rollins (who can’t forgive for raping SAMCRO matriarch Gemma in the second season of Sons of Anarchy) turns up here as a priest trapped in an underground laboratory, deep in the desert, where strange things are afoot.
Cuba Gooding Jr plays war veteran Mack, who heads up an elite group of soldiers tasked with retrieving a scientist called Wesley (played by another Sons of Anarchy star, Ron Perlman), who has gone missing beneath the shifting sands. Accompanied by a shifty CIA operative, Mack and his rag-tag team of gung-ho soldiers descend into the laboratory, which they find sabotaged and abandoned, except for Rollins’ strange priest. As they go in search of Wesley, Mack learns that the compound’s scientists inadvertently released a supernatural force while investigating an ancient archaeological find.
What follows is a spooky, gory tale that relocates Lamberto Bava’s cult film Demons and John Carpenter’s underrated Prince of Darkness undergound, as a malevolent supernatural force (actually fallen angels called Nephilim) infects the team, turning them into gooey legionnaires of evil.
The gore scenes are quite in-your-face: especially the lesbian boil licking scene (yewww!) and the eye slicing acid scene; but actors of the calibre of Gooding Jr and Perlman are wasted here. Rollins, however, does make a very convincing religious fanatic. And just what is Ray Winstone doing here popping up in a flashback and at the end. Well, if you stick it out, then it makes sense (sort of). Though I think Winstone only did this a favour to his old Robin of Sherwood mate (Connery).
If you enjoy shock schlock, 1980s style, then The Devil’s Tomb is passable entertainment, but it’s nowhere as good as the likes of Event Horizon and Quatermass & the Pit, which it also resembles. Watch out, though, for Rob Zombie favourite Bill Moseley as one of the possessed scientists.
Best line: ‘Let us dine on the afterbirth of her new beginning’.
The Devil’s Tomb is released through Lionsgate in the UK and also screens on The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freeview 70, Freesat 138), with the next showing today at 11pm.