The First Power 1990 Movie Scene The body of Jeff Kober as Patrick Channing AKA The Pentagram Killer laying inside the burning pentagram

The First Power [1990]

I want you to close your eyes, well, actually, do not close your eyes as you won’t be able to read these lines. Just close them in your mind, that’s much better. I want you to close your mind’s eyes and imagine yourself transported back to the year of our lord Satan 1990. The satanic panic is at its height and it would appear that the end is nigh. Especially when you consider the fact that the new millennium is just around the corner. So, it comes as no surprise that during this period we got a lot of very similar occult movies. They usually follow a power couple on a trail of a serial killer who has otherworldly powers. 

The First Power is a charmingly dated action thriller about a demonic serial killer and the LA detective trying to catch him. If you’ve seen one movie with a plot like this, you’ve seen them all. What we have here is basically a classic killer versus detective plot with an occult twist. That twist comes in the form of all the powers Patrick Channing AKA the Pentagram Killer has. We all know you can’t win against this kind of villain without some help. So, our hard-boiled detective Russell Logan will end up teaming up with Tess Seaton, a psychic with her own special powers. If all of this sounds a bit cheesy it’s because it is. However, the cast did a wonderful job of balancing this out.

In the lead role, we have one of the most popular nineties action B movie stars Lou Diamond Phillips. Charming and beautiful Tracy Griffith, Melanie’s half-sister, plays the psychic but Jeff Kober easily steals the show here as the Pentagram Killer. You can clearly see they modeled him after Richard Ramirez, a real-life serial killer and Satanist. He’s the guy with a pentagram tattoo on his hand. Before we move on, I also must mention Elizabeth Arlen who plays Sister Marguerite. Too bad she wasn’t given a bigger role because I was really hoping to see this demon-fighting trio in action. Here’s a fun fact, Nick Cave (yes, that Nick Cave) auditioned for the role of The Pentagram Killer.

He says he was lucky he didn’t get it. Moving on, The First Power features some pretty jaw-dropping stunts. One of the best is the one where our killer jumps from a 10-story building straight to the concrete street. There were no special effects here, just one brave stuntman hanging by a wire. The car chases were also pretty good. Featuring a relatively decent budget of $10 million, this isn’t as cheap of a B movie as you might think it is. Interscope was hoping that it could be the beginning of a new franchise but that didn’t happen. While the movie did okay at the box office, the critics didn’t like it very much. And right off the bat, you’ll see why. 

After more than thirty years, I find it incredibly charming. I mean, we open with a scene warning us about the grave dangers of Satanism. And then we’re in the detective’s apartment where he’s literally trying to connect the dots on the map of Los Angeles. I’ll give you one guess what symbol shall appear when he connects the dots? Of course, it’s night and he’s chain-smoking, after all, these are the nineties. This little snippet tells you all you need to know about this movie. That and the strange way Lou Diamond Phillips holds his gun. So, if you’re up for some old-school cheesy fun that takes itself a bit too seriously, The First Power is a perfect choice. 

Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies, you can start with Wes Craven’s Shocker before moving on to Fallen. Starring Denzel Washington, that’s a much more accomplished movie featuring a very similar story. We also should not forget about Prophecy and End of Days. Actually, that last one is the most similar to The First Power.

Director: Robert Resnikoff

Writer: Robert Resnikoff

Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Tracy Griffith, Jeff Kober, Mykelti Williamson, Elizabeth Arlen, Dennis Lipscomb

Fun Facts: The original title was Transit but Orion changed it to The First Power to emphasize the supernatural element of the movie.


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