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Next to erotica, the horror film is perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood genre in the church. A quote and then a question for consideration:

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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You might be interested in reading Scott Derrickson's piece "Behind the lens. (A Christian filmmaker in Hollywood)" in The Christian Century, Jan 30, 2002. He says:

MY WORK in the horror genre has made me controversial among Christians. But as a Christian, I defend horror films. No other genre offers audiences a more spiritual view of the world, and no other genre communicates a more dearly defined moral perspective. Haunted-house films like Poltergeist and The Uninvited offer a perspective rare in cinema--the recognition that there actually is a spiritual realm. Zombie films like Dawn of the Dead are satirical indictments of American consumerism, but they also present the uniquely Christian idea of bodily resurrection. More mainstream horror films like Angel Heart, The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby explore the satanic and demonic realm with feverish moral passion. And even the so-called slasher genre ought to be appreciated as the only kind of film that makes murder truly horrific. Though slasher movies seems to take the extreme and disturbing view that if you're young and have sex, you deserve to be butchered, the usual perspective of contemporary films seems to be equally extreme in the opposite direction, for they imply that teenage sex is altogether exempt from moral judgment. More than any other genre, horror clearly communicates the distinction between good and evil.
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I don't know whether "inspirational" would be the word, but I am a big fan of Terence Fisher's films. He made gothic horrors for the British Hammer Studios in the 1950s and '60s (with a swansong in the early '70s). His work reflects a distinctly Christian worldview, as the Presbyterian pastor Paul Leggett notes in his seminal study of Fisher's films, Terence Fisher: Horror, Myth and Religion.

Drop by The Grace Pages, a rest-stop for fellow pilgrims.

-- Dave aka Alvy

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The Black Cat (Edgar Ulmer, 1934)

Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)

Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)

The Fall of the House of Usher (Jean Esptein, 1928)

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

Nosferatu and maybe Faust (F.W. Murnau)

The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973)

The Unknown and Freaks (Tod Browning)

Vampyr (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932)

..and four for discriminating adult viewers:

Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)

Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

Onibaba (Kaneto Shindo, 1964)

The Addicition (Abel Ferrara, 1995)

Edited by Doug C
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Next to erotica, the horror film is perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood genre in the church.

Btw, I'm looking forward to your next thread, and hearing what erotic films have inspired you. blink.gif

Drop by The Grace Pages, a rest-stop for fellow pilgrims.

-- Dave aka Alvy

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Wonderful article SDG! I guess I'm posing the question because after 20 years of fundamentalist conditioning, I still struggle with the notion of acceptable/unacceptable forms of artistic expression. Some of those old ghosts still haunt this tumbledown shack of mine. Occasionally, my attempts to pinpoint spiritual implications in art seem more like the knee-jerk reaction of a guilty conscience than the conlcusions of a discerning critic... I once overheard two christians explaining the spiritual impact of the Space Mountain ride at Disney World! (mainly because, like me, they were conditoned to feel guilty about finding pleasure and enjoyment in anything at face value) I'm not convinced anymore that I need to produce reasons for why I find certain things enjoyable. Oh well, digressing..

Horror films are one of those thorny issues. As a child I was facinated with horror movies and saw most of the "classics" (great list Doug!) Of course, when I became a Christian, I rejected horror as an open doorway into satans kingdom and burned all my books, Famous Monsters of Filmland mags, etc... In the 90's I started exercising my atrophied brain and revisiting some of those "forbidden" movies; only to find, that many of them were still thoroughly entertaining.(Psst... even some of the "exploitation" ones...shhhh) Here's my very brief list-

Bride of Frankenstein

Psycho

Apocalypse Now

The Thing (Carpenter)

Silence of the Lambs

The Howling

Night of the Living Dead

The Shining

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Jaws

American Werewolf in London

Basket Case

Alien

28 Days Later

Alvy- Apart from two low-budget French films I saw in high school and an episode of Red Shoe Diaries which I... ahem... happened to catch about five years ago, I can't really say I'm qualified to critique erotic films. However I do believe that there is a place in the church for erotic art.

Edited by coltrane

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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I seem to be of two minds re: horror films. On the one hand, I enjoy the rush, the sweltering of emotions that occurs while watching them, the fear that overcomes (especially in light of the fact that it's ONLY a movie). On the other hand, I find that a lot of these films make a mockery of my morals, my beliefs, all at the expense of a cheap gag.

When horror films went seriously downhill in the 80s, it was due to lack of imagination and a greater budget towards special effects. We can't scare people, but we can certainly create the effect that a shish-kabob is puncturing the back of the head that was eating it. It wasn't until Scream revived the genre (albeit briefly), that showed some of the logic behind the thinking of the genre itself. (Of course, genius-scribe Kevin Williamson brought down the genre again due to his own inept follow-ups).

As for my own list, I will always have a soft spot for these horror films:

Halloween - a textbook case on how to scare people.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - Creative & thoughtful while still scary

Jaws - What you don't see is scarier than what you do.

Poltergiest - the clown sequence!

Alien - Very smartly written

The Birds - Hitchcock's scariest.

Re-Animator - The only gore-laden guilty pleasure here.

Scream - The best in the comedic-horror films

The Thing (82) - The music alone is soooo creepy.

There are some classics which I've seen that didn't quite hit me the same way...

The Shining - Beautiful to look at, but boring (and the book is way better).

The Silence of the Lambs - Get past the initial viewing of Anthony Hopkins' performance, and there's really nothing there.

The Exorcist - Need to see this one again.

Psycho - Fun, and a landmark, but not really all that scary by today's standards.

Frankenstein - Good for its day, but Mel Brooks ruined its initial impact.

I think the only time where real spiritual questions were being asked in such a film was in Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which had one scene in which the little girl was asking about heaven. That said, I'd still like to see (but know that I haven't got the time to do so):

Wicker Man

Black Christmas

Ringu

The Vanishing (French)

Nosferatu

Bride of Frankenstein

The Haunting (orig)

Repulsion

Bubba Ho-Tep

Any of Peter Jackson's pre-LOTR romps

Nick

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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I've been kind of addicted to horror lately. The best of the genre is, imo, Nosferatu, Vampyr, The Exorcist, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

I actually watched the Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge last night, and while it was nowhere near the first in terms of quality entertainment, the subtext dealing with burgeoning and repressed sexuality is absolutely brilliant. Some of the visual metaphors are harsh and vivid enough to make it one of the best works I've seen in any genre re: awakening sexuality. The setting of a horror movie lends quite a bit of raw complexity in understanding the psychology of the main character if interpreted as a homosexual dealing with the confusion and terror of his attractions. All in all, it makes the film far more noteworthy and interesting than most modern horror pictures, especially when contrasted with the usual stereotype mentioned below of promiscuous teens getting killed.

I reason, Earth is short -

And Anguish - absolute -

And many hurt,

But, what of that?

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I'm sure I might sound like a broken record, but there are some amazing and (sometimes) highly cerebral horror movies coming out of Asia right now. I've only seen Cure, but Kyoshi Kurosawa seems to be the main man for this sort of stuff. Hideo Nakata is probably best known for Ringu, but I love Dark Water (which is a haunting metaphor for divorce and its effects on children). And Juon (aka The Grudge) is just plain freaky, one of the creepiest movies I've seen in a long time.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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Sundered, are you referring to Don Seigel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake? I am a fan of the latter. I love all the distorted imagery Kaufman presents us with, especially at the beginning of the film, before the introduction of the "monsters" themselves. The world he gives us is one already warped and twisted.

Drop by The Grace Pages, a rest-stop for fellow pilgrims.

-- Dave aka Alvy

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And Juon (aka The Grudge) is just plain freaky, one of the creepiest movies I've seen in a long time.

That name just caught my attention and I can't wait! Sarah Michelle Gellar, Clea Duvall (!!!!!), and Bill Pullman! Also, the whole rage was what scared me most about 28 Days Later and I'd love to see a film that dealed with that rather than falling into a pseudo-Lord of the Flies crapness. Some of the images in the trailer are haunting, and I'd love it if you'd PM me to let me know what's going in the shower, freakiness! It almost reminded me of a new horror movie I saw at Sundance, One Point O, even if that particular film is more worth watching for the thrills than any particular value of its own.

EDIT: I just realized this isn't the same movie you were talking about. I guess I just have another one to look forward to, even though the buzz that it was a good film is what got me excited in the first place. Oh well, I'll still watch for Clea.

Alvy, although I love both Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I also very much prefer the remake. The first is too obviously anti-Communism to scare me much mystically (even though one scene is particularly chilling). But the remake is horrifying throughout, from the heavenly serenity of the opening credits to what is probably the most frightening ending shot of all-time (barring perhaps Mulholland Dr.).

Edited by Sundered

I reason, Earth is short -

And Anguish - absolute -

And many hurt,

But, what of that?

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EDIT: I just realized this isn't the same movie you were talking about. I guess I just have another one to look forward to, even though the buzz that it was a good film is what got me excited in the first place. Oh well, I'll still watch for Clea.

Sorry... I was referring to the Japanese original, which is out on DVD (if you have an all-region player). However, the remake is being directed by the director of the original and is set in Japan, and the trailer contains a lot of shots lifted directly from the original. If you're curious, here's my review of the original film. And I'll throw in my review of Dark Water for free. biggrin.gif

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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I think horror movies are the closest thing to pure cinema. Large segments of the movie can be told without dialouge and you can go crazy with the camera in ways that would be distracting in a drama or comedy. A few of my favorites that haven't been mentioned:

Exoricist III

The Eye

Return of the Living Dead

Curse of the Demon

Tenebre

Deep Red

The Beyond

Dead Ringers

Hellraiser

Near Dark

The Hitcher

The Stepfather

Company of Wolves

Woman in Black

The Vanishing (original version)

Cat People (the 40's version)

Stealing! How could you? Haven't you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church? Captain whats-his-name.

- Homer

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've often thought of Fight Club as a modern horror film, so if you'll accept the classification I'ld suggest that as a semi-inspirational horror film.

Emmm...struggles to think...

I liked The Thing a lot when I was younger...come to think of it, movies with creatures in them which can mimic other people and objects (although the alien in The Thing does it with less..panache shall we say) have resonated with me quite a lot over the years, so Terminator 2 also cuts it for that reason.

I'ld like to think that a lot of horror movies are very interested with the idea of identity and what makes for inviolable identity beyond bodies and flesh, or, what is permanent, what can we rely on when our bodies are so easily torn apart and threatened ( Aliens being a good example). This is also a kind of issue with The Wicker Man with our Christian policeman coming under increasing ideological attack and eventual sacrifice from the people around him. What remains secure for him in the middle of his horrific situation? That's inspirational for me.

I love Brain Dead by Peter Jackson.

Bram Stoker's Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola scared me witless when I first saw it (again as a young boy) but I now find it one of the funnest and campest films I can think of. The fact that these attributes sit alongside some moments of proper horror highlight the horror moments more, though I feel again that BSD is essentially about identity (of Mina and Dracula himself) and of course has shape-shifting sprayed all over it.

It's 9:45 and I'm about to watch Ringu.

Edited by Indigojones

"Art is the most passionate orgy within man's grasp."

-- John Donne

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Some horror movies that have really impacted me are as follows: Halloween, Jaws, Friday The 13th movies, Interview With A Vampire, The Passion Of The Christ, Twin Peaks Series, Twin Peaks Show, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, Frakenstein, Gremlins, American Werewolf In London, Return Of The Living Dead, Nightmare On Elm Street, Silence Of The Lambs, Jurassic Park, The Blair Witch Project and others....

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The interesting thing is that most of Hollywood's current 'in' crop of directors all have their roots in horror cinema. Peter Jackson, Bryan Singer, Sam Raimi... I think it's far to say even if the subject matter is disagreeable there is something of the form of horror movies (the idea of *showing* actual darkness rather than being namby-pamby about it) which has a strong connection with good film-making.

And, of course, there's that wonderful irony that the genre to which The Passion of the Christ is most closely related is horror. A number of journalists here in the UK noted the irony that on the weekend after it opened, half the cinema goers were flocking to see the Passion and the other half went next door to see the remake of Dawn of the Dead. With one group proclaiming the film they were about to see as a great work of spirituality whilst decrying the other.

Phil.

"We live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be." - Angel

"We don't do perms!" - Trevor and Simon

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My favorite reference to the Passion was "It's the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre".

But yeah, it had as much blood and gore as any horror film at it's core. I think it used it well, but I could easily see how the Passion fits the requirements of the term "Horror Film".

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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Yeah, to me the Passion works like a reverse Slasher movie. LOL, I know it is a lot more than that. What I mean is in the slasher movies you are seeing through the eyes of the killer. In the Passion Of The Christ, you feel like you are being murdered! When Jesus his hit you feel the blows as well. In the slasher movies it is more like how cool it was to see the guy's head explode.

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As I've mentioned before on this board, I'm a former horror-movie junkie and "Fangoria" subscriber, but those days are so long gone that my attempts to revisit the horror films of my youth leave me baffled, wondering how I could've ever enjoyed them, whatever merits they might have.

Nevertheless, on Saturday, while searching for Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time(!!) on the library shelves, I stumbled across Fangoria's 101 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen, and I went ahead and checked it out, hoping it might point me to some horror films that, although probably not "inspirational" in the religious sense, might inspire me to watch some other well-made films in that genre.

We shall see...

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 2 weeks later...

opus

Have you seen Takashi Miike's Odishon? (The Audition, English title)

Oh boy. See it. And get that "I really shouldn't be watching this...should I?" half-grimace half-grin...

I used to have a huge horror collection (books) but haven't read any in years...

My faves:

28 Days Later

American Werewolf in London

Audition, The

Blair Witch Project, The

Burnt Offerings

Haunting, The (Original)

Howling, The

Jacob's Ladder

Keep, The

Night of the Living Dead

Others, The

Phantasm

Psycho

Prince of Darkness

Sentinel, The

Se7en

Seventh Sign, The

Shining, The

Silence of the Lambs, The

Sixth Sense, The

Thing, The

In the past few years I've been largely disappointed by the genre...select few releases of late have prompted even a feeling of unease. Maybe I'm just jaded.

I deliberately excluded science fiction, as this, to me, is a separate category--although if technology is somehow featured in an oblique way (as in Phantasm) I kept it here...

-----------

Edited by Jason Bortz

[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

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