Those who have been waiting with bated breath for a followup to the 1999 Christian apocalyptic melodrama “The Omega Code” will no doubt embrace the feverish goofiness of “Megiddo,” but the rest of us can only shudder that yet another such monument to moviemaking ineptitude has shown up in theatres. The title, for those of you not expert in fundamentalist biblical lore, refers to the Holy Land site where Armageddon is supposed to occur, and it seems peculiarly apt, given that the movie is as chaotic a mess as such a battle would be.

The website dedicated to “Megiddo” says that the picture is “both a prequel and a sequel” to “Code,” which makes about as much sense as the screenplay: it pretends to be about religion but is actually about lip-smacking malevolence and mayhem, thus trying to have things both ways (a kind of twist on the old Cecil B. DeMille formula, which made piety palatable by mixing in liberal doses of sex). Actually it’s little more than a crummy variant of “The Omen” series, showcasing the evil doings of Antichrist Stone Alexander (Michael York) from his youth to his emergence as Satan in the climactic duel with God that leaves him chained in hell for a thousand years (more to follow, one fears). As a kid Stone tries to kill his baby brother, but the infant David survives to become president of the U.S. (Michael Biehn), who valiantly resists his not-so-loving sibling’s effort to create a New World Order by joining the U.N. with the European Community. (The actual narrative is politically ludicrous, but some people seem actually to take such nonsense seriously.) What’s more horrifying is that Stone, an American who’s sent by his media-mogul father (David Hedison) to spend more than a decade in an elite Italian military school (talk about a contradiction in terms), emerges with a British accent in the person of Michael York. York, the top-featured of a score of has-beens scattered throughout the cast (Diane Venora, R. Lee Ermey, Udo Kier, Franco Nero, Hedison), plays Stone with an extravagant relish that nearly raises the movie to the status of High Camp: he looks–and sounds–like a debauched James Mason restricted to a diet of Uncured Ham, oozing comic nastiness from every pore. At least this time he’s not up against that blank stud Caspar Van Dien, as he was in “Code.” Unfortunately Van Dien’s replacement, Biehn, isn’t much of an improvement: the one-time star of “The Terminator” is an emaciated shadow of his former self, coming across so bland that he practically disappears from the screen. Of course, as is customary in such flicks, the devil gets all the good lines, so our intrepid hero has little to do but stand about and look bewildered–as we all do, given the impenetrability of the plot.

Most of “Megiddo” is just lousy filmmaking, a grotesque collection of howlingly awful lines, stilted acting, stentorian declamations, sloppily-edited action sequences and chintzy special effects. But toward the close, in a jaw-dropping scene featuring a supposedly tormented Biehn which is actually a crude parody of Christ’s words on the Mount of Olives, it ceases being merely a rotten movie and becomes vaguely blasphemous, a perverse mockery of the faith it purports to serve, clothed in a pseudo-religiosity that’s actually quite revolting. That alone renders “Megiddo” literally God-awful.

The real question posed by pictures like this is a psychological one: why do the faithful of any creed require fantasies emphasizing mass pain, death and destruction to prop up their beliefs? There’s a distasteful character to the whole enterprise which suggests that some serious counseling might be in order.

Anyway, it’s interesting to note that there’s no “rapture” in “Megiddo”–in any sense of the word.