12th Apr2017

‘Holy Terror’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott Butler, Kelly Lynn Reiter, Jesse Hlubik, Kristine DeBell, Nicole Olson, Lisa London, Mel Novak, Vida Ghaffari | Written and Directed by Rich Mallery


What do you get when you take a bevy of actresses from 80s sex comedies, the villain from Game of Death & Black Belt Jones, and some of the cast & crew of Samurai Cop 2? You get the brand-new exorcism movie Holy Terror – from writer/director Rich Mallery (Sociopathia) and executive-producer Gregory Hatanaka (who helmed Samurai Cop 2 from a script co-written by Mallery).

Believing the strange disturbances in their home are their deceased son reaching out from the other side, Molly (Reiter) and Tom (Hlubik) ask a medium (London) to make contact. But instead of their child, the three accidentally invite a vengeful demon to cross over. After the demon violently possesses Molly’s younger sister (Olson), the couple enlists the help of a disgraced priest (Butler) and his mentor Sister Catherine (DeBell) to attempt a dangerous exorcism.

If there’s one thing that makes Holy Terror stand out, it’s certainly the eclectic cast. Who would have ever thought we’d see Meatballs’ Kristine DeBell; Game of Death’s Mel Novak; and Lisa London, from 80s VHS stalwarts H.O.T.S., Private Resort & The Naked Cage, in the same movie? Let alone in 2017, and not back in the 80s? Admittedly, Mel Novak only appears in the films opening sequence as Father Murphy, but still…

What doesn’t make this film stand out is its story. Apparently inspired by 70s and 80s horror like The Changeling, The Amityville Horror and, of course, the original Exorcist (a quote from Mallery himself), Holy Terror is less “inspired” by The Exorcist as it is more a quasi-remake… The film is a derivative mix of plot threads and themes found in Willaim Friedkin’s film and as such, at least for this reviewer, is just as dull.

Yes, Like The Exorcist, it would seem that only those with a deep-seated religious belief would ever find what happens in this movie the least bit frightening. Though I was never impressed by Friedkin’s film: back in 1996 – as a 16 year old horror fan – I bought an American VHS copy whilst on holiday in L.A., hoping to be scared witless by what people had called one of the most terrifying films ever… Turns out it didn’t scare me as much as bore me. Which is my long-winded way of saying that Holy Terror, so close in tone and design to Friedkin’s film, will probably find a similar new fanbase that so embraced The Exorcist. But that fanbase won’t include me sadly.

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate Holy Terror on a purely filmmaking level, the production values, acting, etc. but as a slice of terrifying horror? Not so much.

Holy Terror is available now on Amazon Prime (US).


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