Okay, so we’ve spent the last few posts discussing some upcoming low budget horror movies made by Protestants, how such efforts naturally end up concentrating more on the sermon than on the story, and the possible reasons why there are so few equivalent films being produced by Catholics. But just because there aren’t very many of these kind of Catholic “soul winners” out there doesn’t mean you can’t find them if you’re willing to look hard enough. But don’t bother browsing the shelves of your local video store or checking the listings for the nearby multiplex hoping to run across one. Instead, search around websites like YouTube and that’s where you’ll locate a number of short films made by Catholic filmmakers. Most such efforts are dramatic or documentary in nature, but dig deep enough and you’ll see that there are a small handful of Catholic shorts containing elements of some of our favorite genres. Take the following for example.
ZOMBIES VS JESUS - Spirit Juice Studios has produced a number of shorts over the past few years, but none more suited to this blog than their most recent, Zombies Vs Jesus. In this tale “a young man awakens on a Sunday morning to discover that his family has turned into zombies. In a panic, he and a friend seek refuge in the one place they believe they will be safe: the town's Catholic church. There they discover the truth about what they have encountered.”
CAPTAIN CATHOLIC – For anyone out there who ever saw the old Bibleman television series and wondered why there wasn’t a Catholic version (Hey, I’m sure somebody had to right?), then look no further than Tony DeGennaro’s Captain Catholic. “YES folks, it's CAPTAIN CATHOLIC - former Swiss Guard from the Vatican. Cleverly disguised as annoying and klutzy Theology Major, Tony DeGennaro, no one would ever suspect the absent-minded and overly-perky geek of being associated with his mysterious true identity. With the God-given mystical ability of sin sense, Captain Catholic is in fact able to sense sin, at which time he must don his Vatican Flag-covered cape in order to protect and keep a watchful eye over the kind citizens of Scranton, Pennsylvania.”
LORD OF THE WORLD – What do you get when you have a love of early 20th Century Catholic fiction and about $25 in spare change? Well, if you’re YouTube user RomneyGack, you go out and make your very own homemade version of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, the 1907 apocalyptic novel detailing the rise of the Antichrist and the final battle between good and evil.
MASS HYSTERIA – Okay, so “pay attention at Mass” isn’t the heaviest message around, but it can still be a fun one as this short demonstrates.
You know, when you think about it, the short feature format is kind of appropriate for Catholic filmmakers with a message to pass on. After all, the theme of this series of posts has been that the films being produced reflect the forms of worship familiar to their makers, so naturally the Catholic movies would be shorter than their Protestant counterparts what with most Catholic homilies being typically briefer than Protestant sermons. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago that Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the current secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, suggested that a typical homily should run no longer than 8 minutes in length. I know, I know, that probably sounds horrifying to some Protestants (though possibly to others it may sound like paradise), but all we’re really doing is worshiping in the same way Christians have for over two centuries.
St. Justin Martyr, writing somewhere around the year 155, described early Christian worship this way. “On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves… And for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.” Now if that isn’t describing the Mass, I don’t know what is. Who knows, maybe the early Christians decided to start keeping the Liturgy of the Word short after that guy dozed off during one of St. Paul’s marathon expositions and fell out a window to his death (Acts 20:9). But whatever the reason, modern Catholics still follow their lead, revering Sacred Scripture and devoting part of Sunday worship to its study, but giving the most focus to the Eucharist. Which, you know, considering what we believe about the Eucharist, isn’t that bad a thing.
Anyway, I hope everybody has enjoyed our brief detour into the wacky world of low budget religious filmmaking. If I run across any more like these (and rest assured, there’ll always be more), I’ll be happy to pass them along. Until then, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of secular made silliness to keep us occupied.