New Year’s Eve Signals The ‘End Of Days’ In This Week’s Sick Day Stash

Call them “cult classics.” “Guilty pleasures.” “Comfort movies.” We all have a mental rolodex of flicks that may not be terribly popular but, for one reason or another, they resonate in a very special way. Maybe you saw it at the right moment. Maybe you just see gold where everyone else sees feces. Whatever the case, these are the special favorites that you keep stashed away for sick days. Here are some of ours.

New Year’s Eve is a time for celebrating the year gone by and the year yet to come. It is an occasion where mirth and merriment are equally abundant. Champagne flows from bottles like the greatest of geysers. Loved ones and devil worshippers gather together for the coming birth of Satan’s son into our mortal realm. Confetti is spilled everywhere and laughter hangs thick in the —

Wait, you’re not familiar with that Satan part? Really?

Haven’t you folks seen “End of Days,” the Arnold Schwarzenegger horror-action flick built entirely upon the New Year’s Eve arrival of the son of Satan? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on one of the most ridiculously stupid and simultaneously hilarious films of the 1990s.

“End of Days” thrusts Schwarzenegger into the role of retired police officer Jericho Cane, rendered a widower after the grisly murders of his wife and daughter. He’s drawn into a plot of religious conspiracy and terrifying supernatural ritual circling around young Christine York (Robin Tunney), a woman that is predicted to carry the world-ending offspring of Satan himself, played delightfully by Gabriel Byrne. Cane decides to protect Christine and stave off Satan’s attempts to reproduce with her and thereby have free reign over mankind once the clock strikes midnight and 1999 shifts into the year 2000. He also finds that this is one problem that a decisive punch to the face can’t solve.

Certainly, “End of Days” is not Schwarzenegger’s finest hour. It’s also not his weakest — I think that distinction still belongs to “Collateral Damage” — but it is very, very difficult to find redeeming qualities in this supernatural horror flick built on the satanic arrival of Y2K. Still, if you look in the right places, you’ll find at least a few attributes worth embracing.

Take Kevin Pollak, for example. He really had no reason to be in this film, both as an actor and as a character, but his presence is always a welcome one, especially when he’s a resurrected-by-Satan jerkhole that gets set ablaze with hellfire after a brief moment of redemption. That’s not even considering Gabriel Byrne as Satan himself, yielding the one genuinely great component of “End of Days.” As laughable as this film can get, Byrne’s performance is very watchable and, surprisingly, enjoyable.

Really, the main reason to check out “End of Days” is as a reminder of the career trajectory Schwarzenegger was on in his final years as an actor. I’m hopeful that he’ll return to his roots when he leaves the governor’s office, but not if he’s coming back for more roles like the one-note Jericho Cane. Still, as a Schwarzenegger nut, I’ll even take him in this movie, especially since it exists already. After all, how many times do you get to see Schwarzenegger impale himself for the greater good of mankind?

Oh, right. He did that in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” an infinitely better movie. Ah, well. “End of Days” will do in a pinch.

Tell us why you love or hate “End of Days” in the comments section and on Twitter!