THE PASSAGE has some crud-status as an egregious piece of junk, the sort of item that attracts followers just because it’s so bad. Savagely reviewed, it lasted for one whole week in theaters in the US in 1979, and little better abroad. Directed in an apparent daze by J. Lee Thompson (as far from the glories of The Guns Of Navarone as he could stray without a spaceship), it’s about a Basque shepherd tasked with escorting a family across the Pyrenees from German-occupied France into neutral Spain.
In pursuit is a wild-eyed psychopathic Nazi loon, laying waste to everyone in his path. He’s played by Malcolm McDowell, upping his rampages from A Clockwork Orange; raping Kay Lenz, chopping off Michel Lonsdale’s fingers, burning Christopher Lee alive, and at the end, in a sick false-finale, shooting Anthony Quinn, James Mason and Patricia Neal point-blank in the face. Plot holes deep enough to drain the Mediterranean, the other cast members barely register life signs.
Soaked in sadism, the film is stupid and revolting. Malcolm does have a scene where he’s wearing a jockstrap with a swastika on it, if that’s your idea of fun. A career low for everyone. 99 minutes.