The movie opens with the voice of Professor Broom (John Hurt): "What is it that makes a man, a man? Is it his origins - the way things start? Or is it something else? Something harder to describe."
Broom: "For me, it all began in 1944, a classified mission off the coast of Scotland. The Nazis were desperate. Combining science and black magic, they intended to upset the balance of the war. I was 28, already a paranormal advisor to President Roosevelt. I could never have expected that what would transpire that night, would not only change the course of history, but change my life forever."
October 9, 1944, Scotland: It's raining like hell now. Soldiers move through a short tunnel carved into the mountain. Whitman, the sergeant in charge, signals his men to spread out. They enter the remains of a small chapel. A life-sized wooden Christ contemplates the scene from above.
Broom produces a small box, it's full of rosaries, requesting to Whitman that the military personnel be given rosary beads before continuing on the assignment. But Whitman just laughs at Broom.
Whitman locks and loads an automatic, and offers it to Broom, but he abhors the use of violence. Broom expresses that he hopes Whitman doesn't think he's mad, but Whitman informs him he's three days too late for that one.
Whitman moves away. Broom looks up to the wooden Christ: It has no eyes.
Cpl. Matlin hauls his tripod and gear and joins the troops on the move. Reaching a slope, Matlin sets down his camera. Turning, he sees lights. Drenched, Broom and Whitman look down upon an impressive Romanesque Ruin. Under worklights, dozens of Nazi soldiers swarm among thick stone walls and archways.
A dozen German soldiers swiftly assemble a large steel machine. Whitman lowers a pair of binoculars and passes them to Broom, noting a dark figure. The work is monitored by a spindly Nazi in black leather, his face covered by an odd gas mask. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, Hitler's top assassin and Head of the Thule Occult Society.
Kroenen watches as a scientist throws a switch: On the machine, dozens of gears respond. Steam pistons thrust copper rails upright, lifting two mighty metal rings, not unlike a gyroscope. Kroenen signals for more floodlights to be turned on.
The Altar: The lights flood an ancient sacristy lined with eroded stone saints. Grigori Rasputin, tall and gaunt, reverentially drapes an embroidered robe over his bony shoulders.
By his side is Ilsa, a severe, ageless Aryan beauty. He hands her a small leather-bound book. It contains hand-drawn notes and illustrations.
He explains to her that no matter what happens to him, the book will guide her back to him. He places his hand on her face and grants her everlasting life, youth, and the power to serve him.
Von Krupt, an acrid German General, wearing dark scarlet glasses and leather gloves, appears. He holds up his pocket watch, calling to Grigori and Ilsa that it's time.
Von Krupt leads them toward the machine, its colossal steel and copper clockworks gleaming in the floodlights. Ilsa holds an umbrella to shield her master from the pouring rain.
Von Krupt angrily reminds Rasputin that the Nazis have invested five years of research and construction, and the Furhrer doesn't look kindly on failure. Rasputin assures the General there will be no failure, he promised Herr Hitler a miracle, and he'll deliver one.
Kroenen, standing near Rasputin, is holding a massive gold and copper mecha-glove. Rasputin extends his hand so that Kroenen may fit him with the contraption, which is attached to cables and hoses.
As Kroenen makes final adjustments to the glove, Rasputin proclaims to everyone that he will open a portal and awaken the Ogdru Jahad: The seven Gods of chaos. Their enemies will be destroyed and from the ashes, a new eden will arise.
He looks down at the machine and whispers, Ragnarok, Anung Ia Anung. He flexes his fingers and in response, the two metal rings swing around the machine's central axis. Steam escapes from the ducts and pipes.
An invisible blast of energy forces the falling rain to swerve momentarily away from Grigory's body. A blade of light opens in the air. Burning symbols slash the air, like living serpents of fire.