"Stigmata"
Review written by: Alex Sandell

stig01.jpg (30738 bytes)
Somehow this photo looks like something you'd see in the back
pages of "Hustler" magazine.

What's the story?

When Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette) gets numerous unexplained wounds that look similar to those that Christ is believed to have received during that unfortunate crucifixion period of his life, some Priest/Scientist guy (Gabriel Byrne) tries to find out what has happened.   When the Vatican finds out that the possession (and all the Jesus-related crucifixion wounds) is real, and not just some crummy hoax concocted by the FOX network, they try to put a stop to it, for reasons unknown . . . unless they're revealed in the dramatic conclusion.  (Now I've got you guessing.) 

SIDENOTE:   "The Catholic League" really hated this movie.  Is hatred Christian?

So how is it? (Get to the point, already)

Nearly anything produced by the underrated master of unintentional cheese, Frank Mancuso Jr. (Friday the 13th, Body Parts, Species) is going to be overblown, bloody, and pretty damn good, even though it's not really that good at all.  Stigmata is no exception.  Plotholes abound, the soundtrack is unbearable, it's not really that scary, and after viewing some of the more "familiar" sequences, you start wondering if there was a clearance in the bargain basement of movie cliches.  Yet, the damn thing turns out to be pretty entertaining, and holds your interest most of the time.  This "Mancuso Phenomenon" is rather irritating, being that you can never put your finger on quite what you did like about the movie, and you secretly know that you shouldn't have. 

Of course some of the stuff is so ridiculous it inadvertently becomes a comedy.  Being epileptic made this film  especially humorous to me.  When the doctor decides that, because there's nothing "abnormal" in Paige's medical tests, it must be epilepsy, I busted out laughing like a crazed hyena (or hysterical epileptic).  I seriously didn't know, until Stigmata clued me in, that epilepsy can cause a person to be whipped to the point of having their back covered in blood, in clear view of numerous witnesses, by an invisible force.  I also had no idea that my condition could cause gigantic puncture wounds to magically appear upon both of my wrists.  I will definitely be more cautious, now; possibly wearing metal bracelets and a bulletproof vest whenever I get the chance.   

If you're willing to excuse totally idiotic, implausible crap, like that mentioned above, you'll notice Mancuso hasn't lost his passion for eye candy in Stigmata.  Flashy MTV directing actually works well in the film.  It isn't talented, fresh, or special; it just works.  That Smashing Pumpkins' guy whips up a pretty annoying guitar soundtrack that, not so oddly, fits in well with this flashy directing style, even if it does suck.  The acting isn't good, but is more than adequate. The screenplay is nothing that hasn't been written before, but it suffices.  The horror isn't scary, but it is somehow mesmerizing.  The drama is melodramatic, but at least it isn't boring.  The characters aren't as much characters as they are stick figures, but their stunt doubles do a great job.  And, finally, it pissed off "The Catholic League"; what could be better than that?

What does it make you feel like eating?

The body of Christ.

What are you selling us here???

Nikon (or whatever) cameras and an odd, fast promo for Ritz crackers. 

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Best Mancuso film since the last Mancuso film" - Stigmata

On a scale of 1-10?

6

Agree? Disagree? Wanna have cyber-sex? Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com or alex@juicycerebellum.com (Either way, it gets to me.   There's just two, in case I get kicked off of one for some ludicrous reason, or another.)

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Text (Copyright) 1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll crucify you! 

Pic (Copyright) 1999 MGM Studios [All Rights Reserved]. 

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