There are some movies that should only be purchased pre-viewed at a discount that competes only with whether or not you want to add an eggroll with your Chinese takeout order. These are the kinds of films that are a) not good and b) not worthy of your hard-earned or smoothly-stolen money. Movies that SHOULD be seen no doubt, but not at the risk of their production houses benefiting in any tangible manner.
What I mean by this is that Bells of Innocence, an incompetent yet hilarious biblical thriller conceived by and starring Chuck Norris’ son Mike, shouldn’t make any money. It’s no better written, acted, or filmed than that weird experimental short my cat made after he watched Un Chien Andalou and got a hold of my iPhone.
But glory be, it’s hilarious.
Quick Plot: In 1932, a Native American and a little boy wearing a plastic wig and Native American costume from the 1932 equivalent of Party City are tending a fire in Texas when a torch-baring mob storms their fun. The boy dressed like a Native American runs away to live on and tell the tale, perhaps to be influential in providing backstory for the film that we’re currently watching.
Except not really. We’ll get back to that.
Anyway, let’s move on to a present day, happy town church, where a trio of male members are about to fly down to Mexico to deliver boxes and boxes of Bibles. “The residents there couldn’t ask for a more gracious gift!” cries one parishioner who I assume is THE WORST secret santa in the American southwest. Our leads assemble:
There’s Conrad (weird Flash Gordon lookalike David A.R. White), the reliable family man.
Orin (Carey Scott), the obnoxiously “I’m the funny one!” sporting good salesman.
And, brace yourself, Jux—yeah, I know—played by Mike Norris as a man in turmoil. A wonderfully inept sunny day flashback reveals that some months earlier, Juggs was helping his daughter ride her bicycle, only to then cut to pure AUDIO flashback to hear “Daddy!” as a car presumably crashes into her (on the sidewalk?) and his wife walks out. Now, Jucks wakes up every morning with a beer and round of Russian Roulette. Surely that’s not a Christian thing to do!
You know what IS a Christian thing to do? Fly a private plane to Mexico to deliver bibles to the needy who REALLY NEED bibles. Unfortunately for those poor faithless Mexicans, Jocks forgot to load the plane with oil (or something) and then makes an emergency landing in the middle of the desert, where Orin pointedly points out is nothing but dirt and sky.
The men walk. And walk. And walk. The sun shines. The men walk. The sun shines. The men walk. Music plays. The men walk. Music plays. The sun shines. Men walk. All walking and sun shining makes Emily something something.
Discover a creepy dry county without phones? Don’t mind if I do!
Enter the hamlet of Ceres, which we’ll later find out is a gateway to hell (much like the refrigerator in the much better The Refrigerator) and I imagine, has something to do with that opening prologue that never has anything to do with the rest of the movie. Moving on…
The fellas sit down in an all-too quiet bar where they meet Chuck Norris. I could tell you about how Norris is actually playing a mysterious shortwave radio owner on horseback named Matthew, who SPOILER ALERT! is actually a disguised angel, but that’s kind of beside the point (the point just being, Chuck Norris). After ordering iced teas that they don’t wait or pay for, the men leave to meet a single mother named Diane, who then gives them a lift to Matthew’s house.
Yes readers, you read that right. At the dry county bar, Matthew tells the guys to go to Diane’s house and get a ride….to his house. It’s as needless as it sounds, though surely you’re now thinking Diane must be important to the story. Sure…in the same way the Native American costumed boy in the cheap wig is important to the story.
So Ceres isn’t on any map, something Conrad’s shortwave radio tending wife discovers with horror from afar. There’s some dreadfully undeveloped action back at the boys’ hometown where an older (but not elderly, as in born in the late 1920s) Native American says something about Ceres being what Fulci based The Beyond on and then pipe cleaner spiders attack a librarian and come to think of it, I *might* be confusing things a little bit here. But yeah, the Native American is, I assume, some sort of throwback to the opening scene that HAS NO BEARING ON THE REST OF THE STORY.
See, when I get distracted, there are some key words that bring me back to the subject at hand. In this case, we get little children of the cornish brats who are supposed to be creepy—we know this because Orin, he of pointedly pointing out things, pointedly points out that they are “creepy kids!” Chief among them is Lyric, an Orphan wannabe who immediately latches onto Joks in the way that abused, bipolar, or satanic kids children sometimes do.
Stuff kind of continues to happen, sort of I think maybe. Orin tries to convert the townspeople to football players. Hilarity maybe ensued? Conrad’s wife continues to worry about him. Joggs keeps spending an inappropriate amount of time with the little girl he just met. At some point, there’s a big festival thrown where spiked punch leads our heroes to capture, only to be freed from afar by Walker Texas Angel. They run away from creatures vaguely modeled on the zombies from Tombs of the Blind Dead, mostly through the roundhouse kicking skills of Chuck Norris’ son, who leads them…back to Matthew’s house where they learn that 100 years ago—which, if you’re doing the math, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH 1932—the town was invaded and evil took root.
Upon learning that they must face the devil, the men need to talk. So they do. In montage. They stand outside in Matthew’s yard where three benches meet. Orin sits. Jox stands. Conrad sits. Joks sits. Orin stands. All sit. Orin stands. All stand. Conrad sits. Orin sits where Conrad had been sitting earlier. Three minutes later, they’ve made a decision and I still don’t care.
There’s a villain, then another one. Lyric is revealed to be Lucifer. Or something. It’s hard to stay focused when the softcore Cinemax score is playing louder than the dialogue, but I think it’s safe to say the men eventually face the devil, whose main skills involve forcing suburban churchgoers on their knees and flashing a lighting trick that lets us see everybody’s skeleton.
At some point, the movie ends and a wonderfully cheesy feel-good song plays over the credits, which assure us that “no animals were hurt during the making of this movie and they were WELL FED!”
Must be a Texas thing.
Directed by Alin Bijan, Bells of Innocence is a horrible film. The dialogue is somehow both predictable and shocking (in how awful it is), the effects, level 1 graphic design, and the characters so bland that we can’t help but root for the devil until we realize even HE’S lame. I won’t trash the performances completely, as the actors are so ill-equipped that it’s hard to imagine Judi Dench and the ghost of Laurence Olivier doing much better. But then again, they and heck, even Tara Reid and Denise Richards are probably smart enough to avoid coming near this script. And THAT’S saying something.
I normally denounce the use of the deep computerized demon voice (or as I like to call it, the Marlena Evans Possessed By the Devil Effect) but in the case of a movie like Bells of Innocence, the more the merrier! Especially when it’s being applied to a child
Well, the movie, but who’s judging?
The Spanish word for “joke” is “yoke”
Nothing’s better than faith!
Traveling with the golden girls means you won’t be going out to eat
The Winning Lines
“Children are special in these parts.”
“I think they’re special in all parts.”
Look, I get what they’re TRYING to say here but…I mean…just READ THE WORDS
Yikes. Don’t give GoodTime Entertainment your cash (because I don’t ever want big budgets to cloud their amazingly inept style of filmmaking) but do try to see Bells of Innocence. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. Mostly because you’ll be laughing so hard. It’s THAT kind of movie, and sometimes, the world needs that a bucketful more than faith.