Peter Hyams’ End Of Days

Arnold Schwarzenegger versus The Devil. Just let that sink in. It had to happen at some point in the guy’s career, and I’m thankful it turned out to be Peter Hyams’ End Of Days, a slam bang action horror party of a film that is lowkey one of the best things Arnie has ever done, both in terms of production and the character he gets to play. As Jericho Cane, he’s a far cry from the competent badasses he usually plays, an alcoholic ex secret service agent dealing with the trauma of a murdered family. The last thing he needs is Satan setting up shop in Manhattan on his watch, but that’s exactly what’s in store, for every millennium or so, the red guy gets to take a vacation earth-side in a human host, and if he’s able to get laid with a carefully chosen girl, he gets to take over the world. Some dodgy theology there, but this is an Arnie flick. The human host in question happens to be slick stockbroker Gabriel Byrne, who is soon causing havoc all over the Big Apple in his search for Robin Tunney, the girl marked by a satanist cult decades before and groomed to be his concubine. Arnie’s hangdog private security tough guy and sidekick Kevin Pollak are unlikely heroes to stop the prince of evil himself, but Theron lies the fun, and Cane is actually one of his best, most unique characters to date. Throw in Rod Steiger as a priest whose middle name is exposition, Miriam Margoyles as Tunney’s sinister Aunt (also the only 5 foot tall, chubby middle aged woman to whip Arnie’s ass in a fight), Udo Kier as the freaky cult priest, CCH Pounder as a no nonsense NYPD bigshot, Mark Margolis as the melodramatic Pope in Rome and others, you’ve got one solid cast. Byrne really steals the show and is up there with my favourite cinematic incarnations of Beezle, especially in his smooth, smug and smouldering delivery of some truly patronizing, vicious dialogue to try and dispel Jericho. Arnie’s retort? “You ah ah fucking choirboy compared to me!!” Priceless. The action is big, loud and utilizes NYC to its full scope, with subway scenes, a daring helicopter chase sequence and all kinds of explosive mayhem. The horror element is spooky as all hell too, especially in the first third of the film where atmosphere mounts and dread creeps in (that weird albino dude on the train will forever haunt me), plus the score from “ echoes around like a spectre as well. Not one of Arnie’s most celebrated critically, but will always be one of my favourites.

-Nate Hill

PTS Presents Director’s Chair with PETER HYAMS


2010, director Peter Hyams on set, 1984, © MGM
2010, director Peter Hyams on set, 1984, © MGM

Podcasting Them Softly is extraordinarily excited to present a chat with cinematic legend Peter Hyams! An esteemed director, screenwriter, and cinematographer, Peter is extremely well known for the science fiction thriller Outland with Sean Connery as well as the Connery thriller The Presidio; the fake-moon landing actioner Capricorn One which has somehow escaped the clutches of the current remake craze; 2010: The Year We Make Contact, which was the daring sequel to Kubrick’s original classic 2001: A Space Odyssey; the action comedy Running Scared with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal; the influential thriller The Star Chamber with Michael Douglas, which consciously or unconsciously served as a blueprint for David Fincher’s The Game; Timecop and Sudden Death, which are two of action superstar Jean Claude Van Damme’s best films; horror thriller and audience favorite The Relic with Tom Sizemore and Penelope Anne Miller; the cult classic Stay Tuned with John Ritter; and the Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. The Devil showdown End of Days. You can also hear us talk excitedly about one of Peter‘s early efforts, the trendsetting cop film Busting, with Elliot Gould and Robert Blake, and discuss how that film began to give a particular genre a new and modern feel. Peter has had a tremendous career, and we were beyond lucky and honored to have him as a guest on the show. We hope you enjoy this momentous discussion!