Intestinal Fortitude

AB FAB: In Saint Sinner, Mary Mara, left, and Rebecca Harrell as succubi who really want to get inside your head.Photo: Paul Michaud

Whereas monks will be always moping about the monastery, succubi have more fun. Consider, for instance, Munkar and Nakir (Mary Mara and Rebecca Harrell), the mother-daughter demons Clive Barker inflicts on an unwary world in Saint Sinner. For almost 600 years, ever since Saint Nicodemus of Alexandria captured them, Munkar and Nakir have been locked up inside a pint-size statue, helpless to do harm. But in 1815 in the Pacific Northwest, Brother Tomas (Greg Serano) and Brother Gregory (Antonio Cupo) happen to rummage around in a relic room where their order stores “evil and unnatural objects.” Before you can say Pandora, Brother Tomas is unconscious, Brother Gregory has been drained of his essential fluids, and Munkar and Nakir, wearing most of Victoria’s Secrets, have fled through a kind of Stargate portal into twenty-first-century Seattle.

Time travel makes them very hungry. Of the two, Nakir is the more enthusiastic seductress, while Munkar seems rather to specialize in spinning webs to hold their prey for harvesting. But both are seen sucking on the intestines of their victims as though they were hookahs. That they also bicker could just be mother-daughter stuff. Still, as one expects of an impresario of multimedia kink like Clive Barker, there are also same-sex subtexts, domination scenarios, and a truly disgusting demonic birth scene. Nor have I mentioned the amusement-park Ferris wheel, the Goodyear Brain, or the maggots.

Will Brother Tomas with his magic phallic dagger show up from the embarrassed past in time to abort an obscene future? Is it absolutely necessary that the Seattle cop (Gina Ravera) who helps Tomas does so only because she has Oedipal problems? And how come when we first meet Tomas in his young monkhood, as when we last see him after the erotic hugger-mugger, he is naked except for a diaper? If Saint Sinner reminds you of Crouching Buffys, Species Terminators, a Little Shop of Horrors, and a Hannibal the Cannibal, it’s supposed to.

Just as Case of Evil will remind you of every variation on Sherlock Holmes that the screen is heir to, plus every serial killer since Jack the Ripper. James D’Arcy stars as a younger Sherlock, 28 years old, a smoker of cigarettes instead of a pipe (not yet having made the acquaintance of either opium or cocaine), who’s suddenly world-famous for having knocked off the murderous Professor Moriarty (would you believe Vincent D’Onofrio?). Except that he didn’t. The Professor snookered him. So while this Sherlock who takes his “genius” rather too seriously sleuths about in search of “an unusually short one-armed man with medical training, who may or may not be an abortionist and/or a morphine addict but who gives every appearance of both cutting up the local prostitutes and having them for lunch,” the evil Professor M. will be busy cornering Greater London’s heroin market.

In order for a D’Onofrio to deceive a D’Arcy, there has to be a Gabrielle Anwar, an actress in need of a part. No matter how cute she is, which is very, this part will cost Anwar dearly, but not at least until Sherlock has actually gone to bed with her. Otherwise, what we get is top hats and horses in lots of fog, swords in walking sticks, the autopsical help of Dr. Watson (Roger Morlidge), the fraternal assistance of Mycroft Holmes (Richard E. Grant), the huffing and puffing of Inspector Lestrade (Nicholas Gecks), abductions, addictions, dungeons, and a duel to the death inside Big Ben. Ridiculous, but entertaining. I am much happier with D’Onofrio as a campy criminal mastermind than I am with him as the supercop on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. If Vincent ever showed up across the street on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, they’d immediately peg him as a Peeping Tom at least, if not a sniffer of bicycle seats.

May I suggest the glorious alternative of Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes–meets–Mary Russell series? The Beekeeper’s Apprentice may be more fun than anything Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote.

Extreme Variety (October 23; 8 to 9 p.m.; NBC), with Tom Cavanagh standing in for Ed Sullivan, brings us, direct from Le Theater des Arts at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, a guy who eats lightbulbs, a woman who dances inside a flaming hula hoop, a chain-saw juggler, and trained house cats. Elie Wiesel: First Person Singular (October 24; 10 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13) listens to the Holocaust survivor, author, human-rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner think out loud about his childhood in Romania, his war years in a death camp, his argument with God, art after Auschwitz, and his long journey from Paris to New York to Jerusalem to Oslo. Most moving as well as depressing is his consternation – unto an uncomfortable silence – at the endless bloodletting in the Middle East. Women Rock: Girls & Guitars (October 25; 10 p.m. to midnight; Lifetime) features Gloria Estefan, Michelle Branch, Chaka Khan, and the Pretenders in a concert to raise public awareness of breast cancer and medical research to fight it. Jennifer Love Hewitt, who hosts, will also perform. But hold out for Chrissie Hynde. Hornets From Hell (October 27; 8 to 9 p.m.; MSNBC) are what National Geographic Explorer finds in the mountains of Japan, venomous two-inch giants, each of whom can fly up to 25 miles per hour and kill 40 European honeybees per minute. On the other hand, they are also a protein source, and the resourceful Japanese have synthesized properties of their larval saliva to concoct a popular sports drink. Sightings: Heartland Ghost (October 27; 8 to 9:33 p.m.; Showtime), based (of course!) on a true story, stars Beau Bridges and Nia Long as ghost-busters for a popular television series who end up in High River, Kansas, trying to explain why Gabriel Olds and Thea Grill hear whispering noises, experience temperature drops, watch household items levitate, and see lurid images of long-dead people.

Clive Barker Presents Saint Sinner
Saturday, October 26; 9 to 11 p.m.; Sci Fi.
Case of Evil
Friday, October 25; 8 to 10 p.m.; USA.

Intestinal Fortitude