Losing Your Religion: Christian Horror Classics

Legion, the seraphim suckfest that opened last weekend, is only the latest in a long line of horror films that take advantage of the Bible’s doom-and-gloom with varying degrees of success. Please note that the list is long and cheesy, and I am listing only a few.

Be warned: it’s a pretty safe bet that by the time you watch more than one of these, you’ll have seen more candlelit churches, actors on wires, menacing close-ups, and inexplicable hairstyles than any human was ever meant to see.

The Sentinel. Model Alison Parker moves into a new apartment building with a blind priest on the top floor. (To be fair, this is early in the genre, so Alison’s off the hook for not seeing the warning signs. Later folks have no excuses.) Alison eventually realizes that her landlord is the Catholic Church, and that her apartment building is the gateway to Hell (so it’s probably in Williamsburg), and that she’s next in line to become its guardian.

Horrors include: absentee landlords, the assembly of monsters without license, aggressive recruiting into the Catholic Church.

The Prophecy. One evil soul is somehow going to tip the balance between Heaven and Hell. The angel Simon is sent to collect it, but gets stymied by Gabriel, Angel of Scenery-Chewing, and eventually Lucifer himself has to get involved. Meanwhile, two dull humans wander around a half-abandoned school building and/or the desert, looking for something to do.

Horrors include: Repeated use of the rip-someone’s-heart-from-their-chest effect dummy, the knowledge that Christopher Walken would sign on to do this two more times, Eric Stoltz making out with a 12-year-old.

The Omen. Oh, kids these days.

Horrors include: a smug child, eerie soundtrack, intentional aggravation of baboons (who have enough problems).

Constantine. Demon-hunter John Constantine ends up having a really bad few days when cop Angela Dodson comes asking for her sister’s soul. Because Angela’s smoking hot, Constantine agrees to help, and visits Hell, fights the angel Gabriel, and gets his lung cancer torn from his chest by a Southern-fried Satan.

Horrors include: Keanu Reeves, Gavin Rossdale, knowing or valuing anything about the comic on which the movie is based.

Stigmata. Aethist Frankie gets a rosary souvenir from her mom, and finds herself coming down with bloody, strobe-filled stigmata. (Worst souvenir ever, Mom.) Hunky priest Gabriel Byrne is on the case, which turns out to be a totally-unexpected conspiracy that’s going to bring down the Catholic Church like whoa.

Horrors include: editing swathes of the movie like it’s a Sonic Youth video, internet-usage fouls, Patricia Arquette’s wardrobe.

It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m sorry, when an angel prevents you from killing yourself and then shows you terrifying visions of your miserable loved ones, that’s a horror movie.

Horrors include: the thwarting of free will, forced visions, the crushing responsibility of mankind to arm the wingless heavenly hosts.

End of Days. One child is somehow going to tip the balance between Heaven and Hell. This is bad news for the lady slated to bear this child with whichever minion can molest her first. Enter Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cop out to protect her, and Gabriel Byrne as a man who did not learn his lesson from the last religious-horror movie he was in.

Horrors include: the premise (seriously, Hollywood?), Arnold’s attempt at acting tortured, excessive devouring of scenery.

Legion.  One child is somehow going to tip the balance between Heaven and Hell. (That whole arrangement is seriously unstable, isn’t it?) Fallen angel Michael finds said gravid waitress at a scuzzy desert diner, hands out weaponry to the gathered B-listers to fight off the angel-possessed masses, and the fun begins! (That was sarcasm. No fun begins in this movie, ever.)

Horrors include: ceiling-crawling old ladies, implications to Paul Bettany’s career, ripping off every other movie on this list.

This list, of course, is only the beginning. What heavenly-horror made you swear off large candelabras, Gregorian chants, and walking past churches at night?

Genevieve actually thinks Stigmata was legit awesome. She writes about this and other legit awesome movies on her blog.


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