I was recently asked to put together a list of the top faith-based horror films for Bloody-Disgusting... However, because Brad "Don't call me Mr. Disgusting" Miska is a busy dude, the list was accidentally assigned to two different writers--and damn it, I wasn't fast enough! Not one to let good copy go to waste, I've decided to "repurpose" the list--as we say in the marketing business--which means that now all you loyal Vault Dwellers get to enjoy it exclusively!
BJ-C had been helping me put this one together, but she's off the hook now--saved by baton nationals! However, keep your greasy eyeballs peeled for the newest VoH/DotW collabo in the days/weeks to come... For now, enjoy this breakdown of the most memorable horror flicks with religious themes:
10. Angel Heart (1987)
Robert DeNiro plays the Devil (oh excuse me, Louis Cypher) in this horror noir which was unfairly maligned upon release, but has since aged like a fine wine. Plus it has that infamous sex scene between Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet. What would the Cos say? Oh wait, he was too busy asking interns to tug on his Jell-O pudding pop...
9. Stigmata (1999)
I didn't expect much from this one when I first saw it, but it surprised me--both in its effectiveness, and its knowledgeable use of Christian folklore. Patricia Arquette is freaky in the title role of Frankie Paige, a girl afflicted with the wounds of Christ. And of course, Gabriel Byrne is Gabriel Byrne. As a recovering Catholic, this one was much appreciated.
8. Signs (2002)
I might catch heat for this one, but Signs deals very pointedly and frankly with the common problem of crisis of faith. If that doesn't make it "faith-based", I don't know what would. Mel Gibson plays a fallen priest whose brush with invading aliens causes him to reassess his relationship with the magic dude in the sky.
7. Seven (1995)
Yes, I refuse to spell it in that goofy way with the number 7 in the title. I'm cranky that way. Anyway, thanks to BJ-C for suggesting this one. For the handful of you that might not know the plot, Seven features the serial killer John Doe, whose murders are each based around one of the seven deadly sins. Think of him as Jigsaw, if Jigsaw had gone to Sunday school.
6. Hellraiser (1987)
While not so much tied into any recognizable organized religion, Clive Barker's masterwork is highly spiritual in nature. And of course, there's the whole "Hell" thing, which is kind of hard to get around. The Cenobites are clearly New Age demons, and there is much made of the universal balance of good and evil, which is all very Zoroastrian. Thank you, liberal arts education!
5. Faust (1926)
Four years after Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau delivered his other amazing epic, the screen's finest adaptations of one of Christianity's most famous legends. God and Satan do battle over the soul of Faust in Goethe's literary masterwork, brought to life in boldly visual fashion by the master of German Expressionism.
4. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Yes, we're getting into the "predictable zone" here, so sue me. This is the film that ushered in the era of "Satanism chic" in horror, and spawned more copycats than you can shake a pitchfork at. Mia Farrow is impregnated by Beelzebub, and delivers her impish progeny to an apartment building filled with eager Devil worshippers. Shocking stuff for its day, and still packs a punch now.
3. The Omen (1976)
Gregory Peck delivers one of horror's all-time classiest performances in this wicked tale of Satan's attempt to reincarnate himself on Earth in the cute little form of Damien Thorn. Another great example of a film that makes the most of Christian folklore, crafting a story that draws us in, whether we buy into the faith-based stuff or not.
2. The Wicker Man (1973)
Ask any horror fan who's seen it, and they'll tell you that The Wicker Man is one of the genre's truly great discoveries. A much bigger deal in the UK than in the States, this twisted morality tale pits devout Christian police officer Edward Woodward against a cryptic Pagan cut led by the sublime Christopher Lee. Avoid the remake at all costs, in large part because it ejects much of the religious subtext.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
What would be the point of even trying to be cute and picking anything but this? William Friedkin's enthralling piece of filmmaking so impacted the culture into which it was released that it actually raised the ire of the Catholic church, and polarized audiences with its intense, and gripping take on the struggle between Satan and the soldiers of Christ in a world in which good and evil are very real forces. Based on William Peter Blatty's best-seller, it's the perfect example of a faith-based horror film directed at an often faithless modern world.
* HONORABLE MENTION*
End of Days (direct hate mail to BJ-C :-))
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Prince of Darkness
The Seventh Sign
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