Wednesday, September 22, 1999


Posted By on Wed, Sep 22, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Two great tastes don’t always taste great together. Take The Exorcist and MTV, for instance. You love them equally, but probably not as a combo – unless of course, you’re the type who could sit through a two-hour Marilyn Manson video without spewing green like Linda Blair.

If ex-video maker Rupert Wainright’s Stigmata can’t mesmerize a viewer into believing it’s a spectacular film, it can at least try for total enticement via lofty thoughts, blood and water, a rock video visual assault and the two tastes that do seem to pair up nicely: religion and sex. Patricia Arquette plays Frankie Paige, a 23-year-old (the same age as most stigmatics) atheist hairdresser from Philadelphia who is systematically afflicted with the same five wounds Christ suffered before his death. From the first bloody, demonic attack in her fishbowl bathtub surrounded by candles, Frankie becomes the sexed-up urban ’90s victim of Christ’s passion and, in visually seductive flashes, hopefully the viewer’s own.

Besides the fact that Wainright doesn’t make a great movie out of an appealing idea, the themes are filled with forced religious rebellion: transplanting Christian faith from building (the church) to body (a hot blonde); subversive readings of an ancient Aramaic document believed to be the final words of Jesus; and a scientist-priest, Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne), falling helplessly in love with Frankie. It’s enough to make a thorn bird wince.

While Stigmata dwells at the emotionally desperate level of a Goth teen writing bad anti-Catholic poetry, it must be given points for highlighting parallels between the gaudiness of the pierced, inked, scarred, polyestered, bleached, adorned and madeup bodies of the ’90s, and the appearance of cathedrals. Sensitive to the desolation of the human spirit and its quest for meaning, Wainright’s head-on, spike-driving collision with the church gains impact as much from the aesthetic value of Frankie’s confused suffering as it does from the corny carnal versions of Bible stories it uses to stir up controversy and raise consciousness.

Of course, it succeeds in neither, leaving us with an overgrown rock video littered with suspense and haunted by moving epigrams.

E-mail comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Norene Cashen

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation