Friday, July 06, 2012

THINGS TO COME: LOW BUDGET CHRISTIAN HORROR

When they’re not busy demanding miracles, a large number of militant atheists seem to spend their time haunting IMDB message boards disparaging the release of independent horror movies produced by evangelical Christian filmmakers, spewing vitriol into the forums as if their very lives were threatened by the existence of such films. Which is kind of unfortunate for the oh-so-eloquent “$@*% your religion!” crowd, because low budget Christian horror movies are appearing with more and more frequency these days, as evidenced by the following upcoming releases.

THE MESSAGE

The Message’s official website describes this film as “a psychological thriller of one woman’s journey into the after life. Not since the movie "The Exorcist" has there been such a film that will journey into our darkest fears. For those who have faith there could be such a place to call your next life, but it may not be what you envision. For those who do not believe, hang on, you will not like what you see and may in fact change your beliefs after you see "The Message". A young wife and mother of two children is challenged to overcome her passive beliefs on religion after a serious car accident. Receiving haunting images of her past she is forced to make a decision that will decide her fate. Searching for the true meaning of our existence she comes to the end of her journey and believes she has only two choices in the eyes of God; do not have faith and die or have faith and....die.” It’s interesting to note that the movie promises to disturb Christians as well as non-believers. We’ll see.

LUCIFER’S UNHOLY DESIRE

Another film that might actually make it’s target market slightly queasy is Lucifer’s Unholy Desire, the freshman effort from newspaper publisher and two-time Republican state House candidate Cody Knotts. Lucifer’s Unholy Desire tells the the story of a college-aged teenager possessed by a demon who targets a minister (played by Knotts himself) for seduction. In an interview, Knotts described the movie as “a Christian horror film that deals with possession and ultimately, redemption… I like the idea of a movie about both stark Evil and Good — even if Good has problems… The response [to the trailer] has been overwhelming… They say, ‘Wow. That’s so much better than I thought it would be.’ And I say, ‘Uh, yeah!” Well, here’s the trailer, so judge for yourself.

HARMLESS

While Lucifer’s Unholy Desires has raised some evangelical eyebrows due to its in-your-face depiction of sexuality, it is probably Harmless which has received the most pre-release scorn from non-believers. Why? Well, let’s allow the filmmakers themselves to explain what the movie is about. “Harmless is a feature film shot in the popular found footage style. It’s the story about a husband and father and his battle with a box of porn that is found in the closet. Once opened, the box of porn begins to torment the family, much like a poltergeist. It’s sort of a social commentary on how pornography can destroy a family.” Yep, it’s an evangelical spin on Paranormal Activity & Insidious which attacks the use of pornography. And it seems (at least based on comments left at io9 and the Onion’s AV Club) that while some atheists hate Christian proselytizing, they detest even more the idea that someone thinks porn and the objectification of other human beings might actually be bad for you (which, of course, it is). I guess you gotta draw your lines somewhere, right?

So, what does everyone think? Is there anything here that piques your interest enough to spend 80 or 90 minutes of your life watching it? It goes without saying that I’ll eventually track them all down, but what about the rest of you? And what about this form of evangelization, any thoughts on that? I’ve got few myself, but being a blogger, I’m cheating and saving them for the next post.

11 comments:

Cari said...

I'm commenting here, and not at CE, since I can actually see the movie clips here on Blogger (curse you, WordPress!)

I love love love horror movies, but always have a hard time finding ones I'll watch, since I hate slasher films. The current torture porn genre actually makes me feel physically dirty, and I'm anxiously waiting it to burn itself out. The "Blair Witch"/"Paranormal Activity"/J-Horror type film is right up my alley, and 2/3rds of these trailers seem to be the sort of film I'd at least give a try.

Lucifer's Unholy Desire I'd probably skip. Movies that feature that much writhing and tongue flicking in the trailer are unlikely to make it to the Donaldson movie queue.
The trailer for "The Message" tries so hard to be slick that it tells nothing at all about the plot. It reminds me of "Flatliners", for some reason.
"Harmless" looks like the winner of the group, but I'm a sucker for images of menacing women with long dark hair obscuring their face (see: love of J-Horror).
I guess I'll reserve making any decisions on the effectiveness of the films at evangelizing until I see them, but I have to say that my hopes for that, like the movies themselves, are not high.

Anonymous said...

Gonna pass on the whole lot. I mean, Christian hard rock sucks so much, how could evangelical horror possibly be better? Are they not twins separated at birth?

But seriously, I'm deeply dubious because of the general habits of Scriptural interpretation most Evangelicals have. If they're uneasy with allegory in Scripture, how should I have confidence they can do it well in film?

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

Cari, yeah, I have to admit I wish the CE site was less buggy and more visually appealing myself, but I hear they're trying to take care of that. As for the trailers, The Message looks the most technically competent, but totally confusing. Lucifer's Unholy Desire feels a little off, but I don't want to say why until I see it just in case I'm wrong. Harmless references a lot of recent movies, so I hope it doesn't get too distracting playing name the movie that scene comes from (like it did with Insidious). We'll see, I'm known for being pretty harsh on the trailers I post, but I always end up watching them anyway.

Xena, come on now, I know you're probably talking about recent Christian thrash and unblack metal bands, but don't tell me you mean to say that you don't have at least one Stryper cassette from back in the day tucked away somewhere :) To Hell With The Devil!

MissJean said...

Xena Catolica, you can't have heard Demon Hunter or Red or Disciple then. Good stuff!!!!

Harmless' preview creeped me out, actually. The Message, not so much. But it says it came out in 2009?

EegahInc said...

MissJean, these are all independently produced so money often runs out for awhile. The Message was supposed to come out three years ago, but has only recently seen the light of day. In fact, I'm just guessing, but I would bet the trailer was put together before the film was finished in order to drum up interest and funding. It's a trick even larger studios pull. Hammer Films was notorious for producing posters before movies had even been written.

Anonymous said...

Totally Stryper free. Now and forever.

Last night I watched an old "Twilight Zone" episode with William Shatner, 'Nick of Time' and I was struck how Christian it was. (Also, that Shatner was a better actor before Roddenbery got his hands on him.) I think the sort of fantasy/sci-fi genre that the Twilight Zone did would probably still work better than horror. But maybe the horror's for a much different target audience than I ever was.

Xena Catolica

Phil said...

Well, I thnik Left Behind I-III are not bad enough to be enjoyed...

There's this movie "Posession" from Zulawski or sth like that which deals with the birth of the antichrist. But its not a christian movie... and not bad, only a little bit artsy fartsy.

Jodorowskys Holy Mountain and El Topo are two esoteric movies which are partially (reeeeeeeaaaaally only partially) inspired by the writings of Juan de la +.

But, as I asked in the mail, unfortunately I do not know any really trashy flicks with a christian content.

Phil said...

From these three movies I cannot decide between the message and harmless

EegahInc said...

Xena, truth be told, I never bought any Stryper albums either. Back in my protestant days I was more into Steve Taylor, who for some reason coulodn't get airplay on Christian radio, probably because of songs like I Want To Be A Clone & I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good.

Phil, believe it or not TCM actually aired Possession a couple of days ago. At 2 in the morning, but still. As for Jodorowsky, I won't pretend to comprehend everything he puts into his movies, but I always found the takeaway message from Holy Mountain to be that we should just forget all this silly religious business and just enjoy our time with our loved ones while we can. Sweet, but not necessarily something I can agree with.

On the question of trashy Christian flicks, I might have a few suggestions in my next post.

Cody Knotts said...

Thank you for your comments regarding Lucifer's Unholy Desire. We just finished post production and we will be holding our premiere in Pittsburgh and LA within the next two months.
In regards to the one ladies comment...it is not a family friendly film, as we attempted to show evil as evil.
It is a dark film in which Christ followers must depend on him for their protection and salvation. No character is "good" as all have fallen short of the glory of God.
I hope that you give it a chance. It was a labor of love and the result of my own failings as God brought them to light to me.

Cody Knotts
Director/Producer

EegahInc said...

Hi Mr. Knotts, thanks for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment. I'll definitely be seeing your movie and was happy to be able to share it with others for their consideration. I hope it does well for you and does its part in promoting the saving grace of God.