DISPATCHES FROM ARMAGEDDON:
MAKING THE MOVIE MEGIDDO
A “Devilish Diary” by the British actor Michael York about his experience playing the Devil in the Christian feature MEGIDDO: THE OMEGA CODE 2. The movie was a sequel to 1999’s evangelical hit THE OMEGA CODE, produced by Matt Crouch (the son of millionaire televangelist Paul Crouch), in which York played the part of Stone Alexander, a.k.a. the Big D.
You likely know Michael York as the goofball commander from the AUSTIN POWERS flicks, but he was once a distinguished star of films like CABARET, LOGAN’S RUN and THE THREE MUSKETEERS. In more recent years York has fallen on hard times, appearing in less-than-distinguished fare like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST director Ruggero Deodato’s PHANTOM OF DEATH, the SCARFACE: THE WORLD IS YOURS PC game, and THE OMEGA CODE, which, box office hit or not, was a crappy movie overall and has not become the Classic for the Ages its makers envisioned. Usually actors appear in evangelical films on their way to becoming successful (such as actress Dee Wallace, who acted in several Christian projects prior to THE HOWLING and E.T.), whereas Michael York has reversed the trend.
That said, York is witty and upbeat throughout this diary. Reading it, you’d never know his career had hit the skids!
York begins with an overview of his experiences filming the first OMEGA CODE, apparently “not just a movie, but a miracle”. For the allegedly bigger and better MEGIDDO York reprised his role and in addition was installed as a producer. Fellow down-on-their-luck cast members included Diane Venora, R. Lee Ermy and the great Udo Kier (never one to turn down a paycheck, he), while the director was Australian B-movie specialist Brian Trenchard-Smith. York and co. were evidently unaware of Trenchard-Smith’s previous films, which included decidedly un-Christian cinema like ESCAPE 2000 and DEAD-END DRIVE-IN.
York never appears to entirely subscribe to the religious dictates of his employers, and at one point tries to get an ending tacked on in which he as the Devil delivers an “I’ll be back” speech (evidently overruled). He spends most of the diary shuttling back and forth between the LA, Israel and Rome sets of MEGIDDO, and also various festivals, speaking engagements, his photographer wife’s exhibitions and even a few performing gigs (consisting largely of audio book readings and various taped introductions to things). The man lives a full life without question, and is exceedingly cultured, with a relevant quote for every occasion.
York also has quite a few interesting stories he enthusiastically relates in these pages. My favorite was a remembrance about growing a shaggy beard for a film role, which caused him to be interrogated after he was spotted aboard a plane and mistaken for a terrorist. Such digressions are so enjoyable it’s almost a shame when York has to go back to work on MEGIDDO.
The book ends on a somber note, with MEGIDDO opening nationwide a mere two weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (to which producer Matt Crouch publicly claimed MEGIDDO was “the answer”). York concludes his diary on October first of that year, and so doesn’t account for the fact that MEGIDDO, after a promising opening weekend at the box office, quickly went downhill, ultimately earning far less than its predecessor. I guess God was not with this film.