Holy Sinema: The History Of Christian Scare Films

kirk

This Christian Scare Film about the evils of porn and/or masturbation has been making the rounds for the last few days, and is filled with comedy gold. A heavy-lidded ginger tries to overcome temptation when he’s invited by his bud for an evening of munchies, special buzz juice and … mutual masturbation? Thankfully, his “Professor” is always standing by to provide support.

A lot of people are wondering if it’s some kind of parody, but even though it has been edited down to provide the maximum awesomeness, it is definitely real.

It’s easy to question its validity, as most Christian Scare Films run the gamut from batshit insane to really batshit insane, so who can tell a parody from the real thing anymore?

Let’s take a look back at some of the most famous, infamous, or must-be-seen-to-be-believed CSFs, and for the sake of our sanity, we’ll forgo the cheapies of the 50′s and 60′s, and concentrate on the 70′s to the present day.

The Rapture/The End Times

The mid 70′s to early 80′s was the golden era of the CSF, and the most famous entry was the Holy Trilogy of Thief In The Night, A Distant Thunder and Image Of The Beast (there was actually a fourth entry in the mid-80′s, but it’s treated as the Phantom Menace of the series).

All three films follow the journey of Patty Myers, a young wife who wakes up one morning to find that her husband has mysteriously disappeared (his giant 70′s era electric razor is still buzzing around in the bathroom sink, like a mini-lawnmower). When she turns on the radio she discovers that thousands, nee millions of people have suddenly vanished. It’s The Rapture!

The first film chronicles the rise of the new world order, UNITE (United Nations Imperium for Total Emergency). I kid you not. Everyone is required to be tattooed with the Mark Of The Beast to prove their loyalty, and those who refuse are rounded up and executed. Patty goes on the run, and in the second film, she’s arrested and faces the guillotine.

In the third (and most well known) film, Patty is almost spared a grisly death, until she learns that God Almighty has one sick, twisted sarcastic sense of humor.

This series set itself apart from all the other CSFs by virtue of having … production values, and being … actual films. They were surprisingly well made (considering the era and budget), and played mostly for church groups, and bible camps.

I remember having to sit through them at Vacation Bible School, and while the phrase “scarred for life” is overused, that’s the only way to describe how I, and I’m sure many other kids, were affected. I remember Patty’s death scene vividly (shortly after that scene played, I distinctly recall the aroma of freshly expelled urine coming from one of my fellow campers), and I vowed then and there to give my life over to Jesus (it lasted until I accidentally saw my hot camp counselor naked, and I realized I had different priorities).

If A Thief In The Night represented the best of 70′s rapture films, then Pastor Estus W. Pirkle and “filmmaker” Ron Ormond gave us the bottom of the barrel with their dual monstrosities If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? and The Burning Hell.

Footmen was a cautionary tale about the impending communist invasion, with the evil infiltrators using rock music, dancing, alcohol and TV to warp impressionable minds. After they seize control, they round up Christians and offer them a choice – they can renounce God or be executed. In the movie’s most infamous scene, a young boy makes his decision … and has to roll with the consequences.

Even more unsettling, but in an entertaining way, is their follow-up The Burning Hell, which takes us down to the tackiest hell this side of Satan’s Alley.

The 80′s and 90′s saw more low-budget end time crapfests, but such titles as Years of The Beast and The Moment After left little impression (although I do have an affinity for 1995′s Final Exit and its Vegas Demon and clench-jawed victim.)

In 2000, The Rapture finally hit the mainstream thanks to Kirk Cameron and the giggle-worthy Left Behind. It inspired two sequels, a hilarious Simpsons episode, and an upcoming big budget remake starring Nicolas Cage. Oh, you are a wrathful God.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait that long for our next Rapture fix, as this November, we’ll be given the gift of … Final: The Rapture, which looks … well, indescribable.

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