Themes of religion and horror are rarely brought together for entertainment purposes, because of the taboo nature of the mix. One deals with all that is good and positive, whilst the other deals with the dark side that many people prefer not to acknowledge existence of. There is also the added problem of the way that the public will react, when these topics are combined.

In the history of cinema, there have been many disastrous titles that have tried to blend the two topics, and have failed. Many were exploitation titles. But every now and again, someone comes-up with a formula that gels these two extreme opposites together, in such a way, that they make audiences sit-up and take notice. Whether it be the comedy genius of "Monty Python's Life Of Brian", the reality of Jesus' pain in "The Passion Of The Christ", or the harrowing subject of possession in "The Exorcist", religion and horror have often bucked the trend.

And now, it's the turn of US television, to mix these two topics. The end product, is "Revelations": one of the finest examples of TV drama I have watched in a long time.

Bill Pullman, (Arachnophobia, The Serpent And The Rainbow), stars as astrophysicist David Masseyy, who is trying to come to terms with the loss of his daughter, after she was sacrificed by Isiah, (Michael Massee), the leader of a Satanic cult. When he returns home to Boston, Isiah, is placed in prison, but a nun, (Natascha McElhone), on the search for the Child Of Christ, seeks out Masseyy, and both set-off on a global journey that leads them to try and stop a battle between Christ and Satan themselves!

The idea of a Satanic cult and a nun in the search for religious answers, doesn't initially sound particularly entertaining, nor horrific. But, it doesn't take long for this mini-series to grab the viewer and serve up some of the most well-written drama I have viewed in a long, long time.

This is probably because the writer and producer is David Seltzer. This is the man who helped bring "The Omen" to cinema screens in 1976. With this kind of pedigree behind the show, you know that something special is going to unfold. And it does! If, like me, you hold no religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever, the idea of The Bible being linked to Satanism, and a potential Armageddon, is enthralling. Two subjects that should be as far apart as possible, are melded together to produce a terrifyingly eerie story, that makes for creepy, intelligent and provocative viewing. And for viewers who do hold deep religious beliefs, there is plenty for them to mull over too. What if a woman were to have a virgin birth, in the 21st Century? What would it mean, if Satanists tried to create the largest religious following, the world had ever known, with the sole intention of bringing the Earth to its very knees? It all sounds truly convoluted and frivolous, but the story unfolds in such a way, you can't help but go along with everything it offers you.

At just over four hours spread over six episodes, it's a long investment in terms of viewing time, but the blending of religion and end-of-the-world themes are interwoven so intricately, and so well, that you begin to question everything you think you know. Another plus, is that none of the characters are painted clearly in black or white terms. There are elements to each of their roles, that makes them as flawed as all of us, and the beauty of it all, is trying to work out what you might do, if put in their position. The show covers many other themes and issues, including terrorism, war, the notion of religion in the modern world, and why horror isn't only to terrify you.

One of the most unusual aspects of the show, is the introduction of British panto actor Christopher Biggins. When he appears as the head of the Vatican Church, you can't entirely believe it's him. His acting is genuinely realistic. He plays it absolutely straight, down to a tee, and it's a testament to his acting ability that you actually forget all of his other roles as a roly-poly comedian. It's a complete turnabout face, and it's creepily realistic!

Throughout the entire mini-series, I found it to be completely engrossing, and when you think you know what's about to happen, the writers introduce a new element to the story, that forces you to re-evaluate all the clues they've spread throughout the show. Never have I seen biblical quotations turned into such dire warnings. I know that Chris Carter tried to do a similar thing with his TV show "Millennium", but the quotes he used, never seemed to fully resonate with the stories or characters he gave us. Here, "Revelations" lives up to its name, and I'm certain that if you want to experience an alternative form of horror, this series will give you a fantastic experience. Next time this airs on Sky 1, I implore you to watch or record it.

Review by "Pooch".

Released by NBC Television Productions
Region 1 NTSC
Rated 15
Extras : see main review