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Film: End of Days

End of Days is a 1999 supernatural action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger plays Jericho Cane, a retired police officer who tries to commit suicide because his wife and daughter are killed while he is doing his job. He gets a job of protecting a Wall Street banker (Gabriel Bryne). Unknown to him, the Wall Street banker is possessed by Satan, who plans to unleash chaos by having sex with Christine York (Robin Tunney), The Chosen One to bear his child. Now Jericho has to protect her from Satan in order to save the world.

The film is possibly the darkest in Arnold's career, containing very little cheeky dialogue and demoting Arnold to a tough but ordinary man instead of a traditional Action Hero.

Tropes included:

  • The Ahnold: The writer pitched the film's script on how great it would be to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger say "I'm sending you back to Hell!" to the Devil. But when pitching End of Days to the man himself, he suddenly realized that "I can't 'do Arnie' to Arnie!" Fortunately, Schwarzenegger said the line himself, thus avoiding any embarrassment.
  • The Alcoholic: Jericho drinks heavily due to the death of his wife and child.
  • Anti Anti Christ: Christine was raised from birth by Satanists to be Satan's bride. Unfortunately for them, they didn't drill this into her head from day one, instead raising her as a normal upper middle-class American girl. When the wedding day approaches, she understandably rejects the proposition.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: This is the entire plot of the movie.
  • Archangel Michael: Jericho, currently possessed by Satan, impales himself on a sword held by a statue of Michael to stop Satan from having sex with Christine.
  • Artistic License - Religion: The priest explains that 1999 was the year Satan returned because it was the Number of the Beast upside down! It's the 999 that matters. The Beast will attempt to return at every 999 (999, 1999, 2999, etc). On the last day of that year.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Jericho Caine.
  • Badass: Jericho, but to more realistic levels. He's a tough but ordinary man.
  • Badass Longcoat: Satan wears a sleek black longcoat in his human host and is very fond of it. He himself is virtually indestructible to begin with, so he hires a protection squad specifically to prevent the coat from getting damaged by Christian warriors. Jericho shooting holes in the coat is a Berserk Button for the Devil.
  • Bad Boss: Satan literally fires employees that leave his employment and casually abuses the rest, plain decapitating one for a minor inconvenience.
  • Berserk Button: The Devil is very fond of his dark longcoat, so damaging it is the most surefire way to piss him off royally. The first time a human does that, he crucifies the man to the ceiling. When Jericho later shoots holes through it during an attack, the Devil grabs him by the neck and threatens to throw him down several stories.
  • Big Applesauce: The end of days does not take place in the Holy Land or in Rome but...in New York.
  • Big Good: The Pope overseeing the attempt to stop Satan and urging faith when things look their worst.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, The End of the World as We Know It was averted, but Jericho sacrifices himself to do it, although, Jericho can finally be with his family again.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Satan and his followers leave Jericho alive after savagely beating him. It ultimately results in Satan's plan failing.
  • Car Cushion: Jericho throws Satan out of a window and he lands on a parked car. Justified, seeing as how he's Satan...
  • Christianity is Catholic: On New Year's Eve, the only people left in Manhattan are militant Catholics and equally militant Satanists, but it's more the way Hollywood views both. The theological issues with this movie could fill encyclopedias.
  • Complete Immortality: Satan mocks the hero for thinking he can beat him, since "you are just a man, and I...am FOREVER".
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: When a man is found crucified against a ceiling with hospital scalpels, one police officer suggests that he did it himself. The main character asks how he got the last scalpel in which is...certainly a problem with this theory.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Jericho is brutally beaten by a large mob of Satanists in a bleak aversion of Schwarzenegger's usual One-Man Army routine.
  • Cult Soundtrack: It features B-sides and remixes by Rob Zombie, Powerman5000, Everlast, Eminem, Sonic Youth, Korn, Limp Bizkit and Guns N' Roses.
  • Cruel Mercy: After Satan successfully acquires Christine and dispatches Jericho, he leaves him alive and crucifies him to a building solely so he can lament his failure and personally witness The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Damsel in Distress: Christine is chased and/or captured several times in this story because she's a MacGuffin Girl. The Satanists want her for their Evil Plan and some of the Catholics want to kill her to prevent this from happening.
  • Darker and Edgier: Along with Collateral Damage, when compared to other Arnold movies.
  • Deconstruction / Playing Against Type: Instead of depicting Arnold as an unstoppable force of nature that can destroy everything in sight, this movie depicts his character, Jericho, as being genuinely flawed, such as being suicidal, not being able to do the death-defying acts that the other heroes Arnold has played (not counting the scene where he has no strings to hold him down) and, in the end, there was not any other way to stop Satan from causing the End unless Jericho killed himself but, at least Jericho can be with his family again.
    • In interviews, Schwarzenegger said that he took this role because he thought it was the perfect script to make his return to action movies, which makes the Playing Against Type part even more weird.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Satan tries to make an arrangement with Jericho to return his dead wife and child to him in exchange for leading him to Christine, whom Satan needs to impregnate to complete his plan, but Jericho refuses the offer.
    • Chicago makes a deal with Satan to serve him if he would spare his life after Satan set him on fire. When Chicago refuses to kill Jericho, Satan terminates the contract and burns him alive.
  • Demonic Possession: By Satan himself to the Wall Street banker and later to Jericho in the end.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Jericho to Satan at one point:
    You want to fuck with me? You think you know bad, huh? You're a fucking CHOIR BOY compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!
    • Also the kid with the "Satan Rules" t-shirt.
  • Dirty Cop: It appears the entire NYPD are secretly Satanists. And not the fun, pot-smoking, free-love Satanists either, but the "murder witnesses and abduct women" kind.
  • Divine Intervention: The whole point of the plot is getting the protagonist to realize that in the end, nothing he can do can beat the bad guy, and asking for God's help is the only way to save the world.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jericho contemplates suicide every Christmas because his wife and daughter were killed while doing his job.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Including a subway. They all explode.
  • Evil Albino: The albino named 'Albino' is also evil.
  • Evil Is Petty / For the Evulz: Satan does a few evil things just for the Hell of it.
  • Evil Wears Black: After taking a Tall, Dark and Handsome host, Satan walks around in a black longcoat and later appears in a Black Cloak during the Satanic bedding ceremony.
  • Expy: Many have noted that Gabriel Byrne's portrayal of Satan is remarkably similar to Al Pacino's portrayal of Satan in The Devil's Advocate, mainly due to both of them being such large hams.
  • Fanservice: Christine has a quick topless scene as she's changing clothes that does absolutely nothing to serve the plot.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Invoked by the Devil when Jericho tries to shoot him.
    Devil: Don't fuck up the coat!
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: The Devil says "I can take the pain of being in a church."
  • Finger Twitching Revival: Subverted. After Satan is bisected in a subway explosion, he moves his fingers to indicate he's still alive. With his host useless, however, his incorporeal winged form leaves it to possess Jericho himself.
  • Fingore: At one point, Jericho hangs from a broken window, the glass cutting into his fingers.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Gabriel Byrne plays Satan, and the female extras were very, very comfortable with this.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Satan is pleased when he runs into a teenager with a "Satan Rules" t-shirt. The guy tells him to go screw himself and wasn't a true Satanist in any case, so the Devil literally throws him under a bus.
  • God Is Good: Jericho prays for help at the end. Afterward, he's reunited him with his dead family.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Kovak explains the situation to Christine, agrees to protect her from both the Satanists and Vatican knights, and later rescues Jericho after Satanists beat the shit out of him.
  • Healing Factor: Satan quickly heals his host's wounds after Jericho shoots him. Near the end, he suffers so much damage that he doesn't even bother repairing it anymore and starts looking for a new body because he's running out of time to complete his plan.
  • Hell on Earth: Satan tries to use a specifically-chosen women to help him sire The Antichrist. This will then somehow allow him to permanently open a portal to Hell and turn the world into a fiery hellscape.
  • The Hero Dies: Jericho himself at the end.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jericho's death in the end is the only way to stop the end of the world.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Jericho starts out as one of these, but by the end of the film, he finds himself asking God for help against Satan.
  • Hollywood Satanism: The cult that serves Satan while he is in human form.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: New Year Has Come.
  • Hot as Hell: Gabriel Byrne as Satan.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Satan is in human form (and speaks English) for most of the story, then manifests himself as a malevolent shock wave in the big cathedral showdown.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Subverted for the ending, wherein Jericho is possessed by Satan himself, but before he's forced to rape the girl he tried to protect during the movie, regains control long enough to jump straight on a sword held by a statue of the Archangel Michael, killing himself and banishing Satan just as the year 2000 rolls in.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Jericho to Chicago, and Christine to Jericho after they are possessed by demons.
  • Immune to Bullets: Downplayed. Handguns only mildly inconvenience the Devil but forces him to repair his host body, and machine gun fire does take him down, albeit temporarily.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jericho himself jumps on the sword of a statue of the Archangel Michael to stop his possession.
  • Implacable Man: Gabriel Byrne's Satan possesses the body of a stockbroker, who proves impervious to bullets and other blunt trauma. He's eventually worn down by repeated explosive blasts and being mowed down by a subway train. When he can no longer walk, he simply leaves the broker's body and possesses a new one: Jericho. In the end, Satan isn't beaten, only outlasted as the New Year rings in, and he's forced to retreat for another 1000 years.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Jericho tries to shoot himself in the opening after his wife and daughter were murdered by a bunch of thugs who invaded his home when he wasn't there. As he's about to pull the trigger, his partner Chicago walks into his apartment to pick him up for the protection assignment they have to do that day. Chicago notices the gun on the table but doesn't bring the issue up again.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Jericho is dangling from a window. Satan offers to save him in exchange for his soul. Jericho appears to agree, but when Satan reaches over to pull him up, Jericho screams "Fuck you!" and yanks Satan out the window, where he falls into the street.
  • Knight Templar: The militant Catholics who believe that the best way to foil Satan's plan is to murder Christine, who is innocent.
  • Large Ham: Gabriel Byrne's portrayal of Satan.
  • Living Bodysuit: There are a couple of moments where the Devil possesses people to disguise himself...while being very indiscreet.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Satan offers Jericho a re-creation of his deceased wife and child to win him over, but Jericho rejects it because he realizes it's ultimately not real. In response, Satan turns the illusion nightmarish by forcing Jericho to relive his family's murder and be unable to stop it.
  • MacGuffin Girl: Christine is the key to the birth of The Antichrist and thus the end of the world.
  • Made of Iron: Averted. Unlike his usual roles, Arnold as Jericho cannot effortlessly shrug off harm.
  • Masochist's Meal: Jericho is seen starting his day by mixing coffee, beer, pepto bismol, leftover chinese food, and a slice of pizza dropped on the floor in a blender and then chugging the resulting concoction. Ick.
  • Meaningful Name: Christine York, i.e. "Christ in York."
  • Mind Rape: Satan screws with Jericho by forcing him to relive the murder of his wife and child in a home invasion he wasn't there to stop.
  • Moment of Weakness: Jericho's best friend Chicago betrays him and makes a Deal with the Devil because "it's amazing what you'll agree to when you're on fire." Especially galling since the Devil was the one who set him on fire in the first place. Near the end, Chicago can't bring himself to betray Jericho a second time, and the Devil revokes their deal by setting him on fire again.
  • Name of Cain: The lead Jericho Cain, played by Schwarzenegger. A total Anti-Hero, and implied to be the second coming of Christ (J.C., get it?).
  • Neck Lift: Satan effortlessly lifts Jericho over his head by grabbing his neck and holds him in front of an open window to threaten him.
  • Neck Snap: Satan kills a guy by grabbing his head at twisting it 180 degrees.
  • No Name Given: We know nothing about the banker before Satan possesses him, and in the end credits, he's simply listed as "The Man".
  • Offing The Annoyance: Satan murders a rebellious teenager after he accidentally trips the kid off his skateboard. He is pleased at the "Satan Rules" shirt he is wearing, but the teen interprets this as a condescending comment from a middle-aged businessman and tells him to get lost. Satan then causes him to be run over by a bus.
  • One-Winged Angel: An almost literal example. After Satan's human host is damaged beyond repair, he abandons it and manifests in his true form as a gigantic, winged demon/dragon before possessing the hero.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Jericho shoots Chicago in the arm to confirm that he's not actually Satan in disguise. When Chicago rants at him afterwards for shooting him, Jericho tells him to stop whining because it's "just a scratch."
  • Outrun the Fireball: Jericho and Christine outrun an inferno chasing them down a hallway after rescuing Christine from Satan near the end.
  • Place of Protection: Hellspawn are not welcomed in the House Of God and thus can't find someone hiding there. Satan himself admits that it causes him great pain to enter such a place.
  • Police Are Useless: One officer on discovering an elderly, injured man crucified to the ceiling with scalpels with no ladder or other platform in sight, suggests that he did it himself. Jericho asks how he could have got the last scalpel in to point out how ridiculous this theory is.
  • Poor Communication Kills: There's no communication at all between Jericho, the mainstream church, an extreme fringe group, and the foster system. None of them are on the same page. The Church tries to protect Christine but the fringe is trying to kill her, Jerchio has no idea what's going on initially and the foster system put Christine with a Satanist, and because of that members of the church assume she is one herself.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: After using everything possible to stop the Devil, Jericho prays to God to help him find strength in his struggle. God seems to help him resist being possessed by the Devil long enough to sacrifice himself and save the Earth. Jericho is then reunited with his family in the afterlife.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Chicago is a justified example. By turning away from Satan, he voided the deal he made with Satan to stay alive; thus death.
  • Religious Horror: Demons roaming New York searching for a woman who can give birth to The Antichrist. There's lots of spiritual nastiness and temptation.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Jericho goes on one at near the end of the film, arming himself to the teeth and killing several Satanists to rescue Christine.
  • Satan: He is trying to mate with his chosen bride while possessing a Wall Street banker played by Gabriel Byrne.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: The fate of the world depends on preventing Christine from becoming Satan's concubine.
  • Scare Chord: All the goddamn time.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: Jericho's superiors in the police are part of it.
  • Sex God: Satan. All of the women he encounters are powerless against him. When he first arrives on Earth he french kisses a woman and fondles her breast in a crowded restaurant and she seems thrilled by it. Then he has a threesome with a mother and her daughter. Even Christine, who knows that Satan wants to impregnate her with the Antichrist, feels strangely powerless to resist him.
  • Significant Monogram: Jericho Cane, J.C, which is the same as Jesus Christ.
  • Six Is Nine: The Number of the Beast is 999.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: One of the cops investigating a crime scene involving a man having been crucified to a ceiling after the Devil paid him a visit suggests with no trace of sarcasm in his voice that "maybe he did it to himself." Jericho, speaking for the audience, mocks him for it. The man is later revealed to be a Satanist.
  • Together in Death: After Jericho sacrifices himself to stop the Devil from destroying the world by trying to use Jericho's body to rape Christine, he is reunited with his dead wife and child in the afterlife.
  • Three-Way Sex: The Devil beds a cultist's wife and daughter at the same time. This is something that the Bible specifically mentions is a big no-no.
  • Unconventional Smoothie: Jericho mixes one in his apartment consisting of coffee, pepto-bismol, Chinese food leftovers, remnant beer, a slice of pizza found on the floor, possibly more as the camera cuts away for extended periods during the process. Just before drinking, Jericho remarks that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  • Visible Invisibility: Satan's true winged demonic form is invisible to the naked eye, but leaves behind visual distortions as it flies through the air.
  • We Can Rule Together: Satan offers Jericho to forget his mission to protect Christine from Satan and to bring back his dead wife and child in exchange and come work for him in his new hellworld. Jericho is genuinely tempted by the offer because of his grief, but he ultimately rejects.
  • Unflinching Walk: Naturally, Jericho does this. Even if Arnold's character isn't as tough as usual, he still has this image.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: After Satan impregnates his mate, The Antichrist arrives at midnight on a certain date. Arnie's response is: "Eastern Standard Time?" (The character telling him this goes on to state that monks worked this out in the 1600s, also coming up with the Gregorian calendar in the process...a conceit Roger Ebert royally tore apart.)
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: Subverted. Satan's human host is eventually reduced to a damaged torso only kept alive by Satan's influence and yells at the hero that trying to stop him is pointless since he's immortal. He needs a functioning host to sire The Antichrist however, so he evacuates it for a better one.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Downplayed with Mabel. She has raised Christine well enough except for keeping that dark secret from her. She also has Super Strength, probably as a result of being part of the cult.
  • You Have Failed Me: Satan murders his minions for the slightest failure or inconvenience. Most notably, after the lead Satanist doesn't convince Christine's keeper to bring her over immediately because she thinks there are militant Christians observing the house outside, Satan decapitates him with a super-powered punch because he now has to go through the trouble of walking over there.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Inverted. Satan resurrects several of his minions after Jericho kills them because they still might prove useful to him.

ElectionFilms of the 1990sThe End of the Affair
Spontaneous ChoreographyImageSource/Live-Action FilmsCat Scare

alternative title(s): End Of Days
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