Written & Directed by Robert Resnikoff
Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Tracy Griffith and Jeff Kober
A killer is given the gas chamber after committing several demonic murders. His spirit is released and given power by the Devil. Now the cop that caught him before must find a way to do it again.
When you read the date 1990 here, just assume spoilers. You’ve had plenty of time to see this.
I saw The First Power about 22 years ago. A group of us had imbibed a bit beforehand and we were somehow lucky enough to have girls ready to attend with us. The Midwest planets were aligned I suppose. Born and raised horror hypes, we lived for these kind of over-the-top horror flicks. To the best of my recollection, killers lurched, girls screamed, and we were inevitably fear-groped. Even a bad horror flick was a sure thing back then.
Channing, ultimate Satanic creeper
Having recently kicked back and enjoyed this movie again, I remember clearly why I liked it so much. I’ve said it before, but if you want to get my attention focused on your horror movie, then make it rooted in religion and infinite evil. Win and win. I can’t really claim I want some loon attacking me with a machete or calling me with life or death horror trivia scenarios, but if they did, I would freak the eff out and fight as much as possible. Okay, now deal with a bad guy that’s been resurrected by Satan himself. Match point: Satan.
I liked this from the opening title sequence. The First Power fades in white against black as a pentagram slashes each connecting line to assemble the complete mark of evil. Detective Russell Logan (Phillips) has been hunting a serial killer for weeks and finally gets a lead in the form of a mysterious phone call. Logan gets his man, the foul, Patrick Channing (Jeff Kober), a killer responsible for killing at least 16 people including children. Compound that with satanic symbols carved into the victims during a sadistic ritual. Flash forward and Channing is executed in the Los Angeles gas chamber.
Satanic-powered villain: check. God-powered good guy with an obviously blessed weapon/icon: check.
Turns out the First Power is the gift of resurrection, something God or Satan can bestow on a loyal disciple. Insert 90 minutes of Logan getting his ass kicked. Overall, this is a pretty intense movie. Channing turns more venomous as he jumps from body to body, possessing the weak-minded addicts and homeless people of the densely populate LA area. Phillips does well in the film if not for a little bit of over-acted scenes here and there. The big offender here is actress, Tracey Griffith, as medium, Tess Seaton. She has two acting modes: all or nothing. She uses no subtlety or restraint. She fails all the way around. She’s a redhead with huge boobs; point taken. The real winner here is Kober as the intensely evil Channing. His portrayal of a man tormented by painful memories of childhood atrocities is just amazing. Oozing with vile darkness and demented snark, Channing is a true bad ass of a big bad.
If you have an interest in supernatural horror movies with a strong occult/religious theme, then you’re bound to enjoy The First Power.
“See you around, buddy boy…”