Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Bones of St. Anthony - Not!

The Temptations of St. Anthony by Bosch

Speaking of guilty pleasures, this week's DVD rental is another disc from the tv series, Poltergeist: The Legacy. You've got to love this episode, The Bones of St. Anthony, in which an archaeologist-theologian and a Navy SEAL set out on the trail of a demon from hell (literally :-) But first, to refresh your memory ...

Poltergeist: The Legacy .... tells the story of the members of a secret society .... Founded in England in the 6th century, the Legacy was established to collect dangerous artifacts, investigate paranormal menaces, and gather information on the supernatural. As the organization grew, it established branches in many of the world's major cities ... most of the action centers on the San Francisco house. The physical house is a large castle-like mansion located on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. The house uses the philanthropic Luna Foundation as a front for its investigations.

And our two main characters for this episode ...

Dr. Derek Rayne (played by Derek de Lint) - The precept of the San Francisco house. He is a brilliant scholar with a mysterious background. Derek is French and holds doctorates in archaeology and theology ..... Nick Boyle (played by Martin Cummins) - A former Navy SEAL who resigned after his commander caused the deaths of the other men in his unit. His father was a member of the Legacy before him. Nick had a brash and impulsive nature which often caused him to clash with the methodical Derek ...

The story went like this ... a nun from the Holy Order of Anchorites of St. Anthony the Great has come from Egypt to San Francisco with what she believes is a fragment of the saint's bones. A black market occult artifact dealer and an unscrupulous scientist have persuaded her to give up the fragment for its DNA ... they promise to clone St. Anthony. Little does the nun know that the fragment is not really a bone chip but instead, a particle of a horn ... a horn from one of the demons St. Anthony fought in the desert. The artifact dealer and the evil scientist know this all too well, and use the horn DNA to create a cloned demon for their own nefarious purposes.

- Derek

The demon the bad guys create escapes from the scientist's lab and begins killing innocent victims. The university which houses the lab calls in the wealthy finger-in-every-pie shell corporation, the Luna Foundation (in other words, The Legacy - Derek and Nick) for help, and they test the fragment of horn, figure out what's happened, and begin to track the creature .

Meanwhile, the nun, who wears an amulet that contains a true piece of St. Anthony's bones, is drawn to where the demon lurks in the dark, dank sub-basement under the university, believing wrongly that it is indeed the cloned saint. Will Derek and Nick find her, and the amulat that may be the only means to destroy the demon, before the creature devours her??? Sadly, no. They find her dismembered body in the tunnels of the sub-basement, sans the amulet ... the artifact dealer and scientist have already snatched it from her still warm corpse, for they've realized they can use it to control the demon.

- Nick

We follow Nick and Derek trough the dim, steamy tunnels until they come upon the shredded body of the scientist ... near his corpse lies the amulet. In the distance they hear the bestial howling of the demon and they realize it must now be tracking the artifact dealer. Derek grabs the amulet and Nick checks his pistol's magazine, and good guys that they are, they strive to find the demon before it eats the artifact dealer.

Before long they come upon the demon but they're too late to save the artifact dealer (this is a cautionary tale, after all). The demon approaches them and they stand stunned for a moment, agast at the sight of this being from the nether regions. Then they manage to get a grip ... Nick shoots the creature a few times, to no effect, and Derek curses the demon in the name of St. Anthony, who had originally bested it, and casts the amulat containing the saint's bones into the creature's gaping maw. This does the trick ... the demon convulses and dies, finally disintigrating and leaving behind the amulet.

The final scene of the episode has Derek entering a secret chamber deep under the Legacy House on Angel Island, to deposit the amulet there among other gathered religious relics and occult artifacts too dangerous to ever again see the light of day.

- The main altar of the hermitage church in Warfhuizen in the Netherlands with a mural of Anthony Abbot and a reliquary with some of his relics. - Wikipedia


  1. great ep! it's going to be one of the ones you can see on the polt website, at
    I loved your bit about it and have to admit I like watching any of the eps with the guys on 'em :)

  2. Very cool. I stopped reading your synopsis about halfway through, since I would like to see it some time, but it sounds like my kind of thing.

    I came across an interesting relic site the other day: Saints Alive

  3. I love it when theology/religious tradition and popular culture collide! I wonder, with your unequaled knowledge of film, has there ever been a deamon/devil/ possession themed flick that didn't involve Roman Catholic priests/nuns/symbolism? It just seems to me that the RC Church provides a disproportionate amount of fodder for writers of this genre. I'm extremely open to admiting my own bias though which is why I ask the question.

  4. Poltergeist: The Legacy WS ... Hi and thanks for your comment :-)

  5. Liam,

    thanks for the link - what a great graphic on the splash page!

  6. Cura,

    I think you're right. For some reason it doesn't seem like there is much combination of Protestantism and the occult (except for stuff like The Crucible, etc.), but I don't know why.

    I'm re-reading some old fantasy novels now that combine medieval Catholicism and magic ... the Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz.

  7. The Crucible! I had forgotten that one. Even though they present RC elements in a pretty archaic fashion, I still think it's neat that whenever Satan shows up you simply HAVE to have a Catholic Priest, Holy Water, A Crucifix and Latin...or you're screwed! ;o)

    I had some friends who were really into the Deryni books but at the time I was wrapped up in Donaldson's 'Unbeliever' series and then I forgot about them. I never would have appreciated the religious references anyways but now...hmm. Something else to add to my reading list!

  8. Donaldson ... didn't he write the books about the man who was a leper? I really liked that trilogy. Yeah, the St. Camber Deryni books were particularly likeable, I thought ... lots of stuff about religious orders and what it means to be a priest :-)