Give us that old time Religion
date:July '87

"Salvation," a comedy starring Stephen McHattie, Dominique Davalos, Exene Cervenka and Viggo Mortensen. Directed by Beth B. Screenplay by Beth B and Tom Robinson. Running time: 80 minutes. A Circle Release. At the Roxy Screening Room.

'Salvation" is a strikingly charmless film, but you have to admit that it's a prescient one: Made well before the recent scandal involving Jim Bakker, Jessica Hahn and several hundred thousand dollars, it predicts those occurrences with remarkable accuracy. Directed by Beth B, a veteran of the avant garde film scene (this is her first feature in 35mm), "Salvation" blends the styles of the experimental theater of the absurd, rock videos, low-life farce and soft-core pornography. Even before seeing "Salvation," I had a little regard for these genres; I now have even less.

The plot concerns the Reverand Edward Randall (played with appropriate sleazy verve by Stephen McHattie), a hypocritical televangelist who becomes the victim of a sex/blackmail plot perpetrated by white-trash Jerome Sample (Viggo Mortensen), his born-again wife Rhonda (Exene Cervenka, of the rock group X) and her hot-to-trot sister Lenore (Dominique Davalos, last seen in ''Howard the Duck").

Not an unpromising premise for a hip farce - but Beth B (who cowrote the screenplay with Tom Davidson) appears to have nothing to say on the subject except to make the obvious point that the Jim Bakkers of the world may not be quite as pious as they appear. Moreover, her continual use of sordid images of sex, violence and bondage goes uncomfortably beyond the realm of satire.

Publication: Philadelphia Daily News

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