Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Reel List: Top 5 – Horror

Posted: October 30, 2014 by jperritt in Horror, Reel Lists
Tags: , , , ,

Just a few days ago, I made some comments about the change in seasons and how that’s connected to our pre-fall existence.  I also said that we like to capture these seasons by enjoying seasonal foods, as well as, flicks.  With that in mind, we at Reel Thinking thought we would compile another Reel List for you to enjoy (or, not enjoy).  Let us state up front that neither of us are huge fans of the horror genre.  Therefore, some of our horror films may seem a little less horror than your average horror film fan (I can only handle so much gore).  So, for those of you die-hard horror fans, please sound off in the comment section and compile your own list. [Blaine’s list will be posted tomorrow]

John’s Top 5:

daniel-danger-psycho-poster-redPsycho – For me, this is the all-time greatest horror film ever made.  Hitchcock was a master of suspense and I am still amazed that this film is creepy in 2014.  Anthony Perkins played the roll of Norman Bates in phenomenal fashion – it was Oscar worthy.  Killing off a notable lead in the beginning paved the way for many plots to follow suit.  Even though I still know the ending, I am amazed at the erie feel I still receive.

What Lies Beneath – Some of you may be scratching your heads on this one.  Robert what_lies_beneathZemeckis is an excellent director and a film like this shows his versatility.  Plus, almost anything with Harrison Ford is worth watching (almost! Crystal Skull was a horror film of different sorts).  Again, the acting by Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent and the story wasn’t sacrificed for the scare. If you can make it through this movie without jumping or being slightly scared of the water, it’s probably because you’ve watching one too many Saw movies.

signs-posterSigns – If you’ve followed this site at all, you know that I’m (still) an M. Knight Shyamalan fan.  This was one of the most fun theater experiences I’ve ever had.  Everyone was screaming, everyone was shouting, and most people were covering their eyes (Normally this kind of thing bothers me, but it was fun).  Again, the acting was great.  Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix worked well together and this was one of the few movies where the kids didn’t bother me.  Plus, there’s several notable scenes – the baby monitor, the corn field, the pantry, and the basement.  It’s also as funny as it is scary.

Jaws – Okay, some of you may have objections to Jaws being a horror movie.  Object all you want, but picturejawsposter yourself in the open water with a great white swimming under you…pretty horrific, right?  Jaws was the birth of the summer blockbuster and if you can watch this without being slightly scared of the water (sound familiar?), then you’re not human.  Steven Spielberg worked masterfully to create anticipation (John Williams helped with that, just a tad), by not showing audiences the shark until half-way through the film.  Although the film is tense throughout, Robert Shaw’s dialogue on the ship at night is the highlight.

devil-posterDevil – I wanted to put a more recent film on here.  Plus, not mentioning a film entitled DEVIL for top horror movies seems like it’s breaking a rule somehow.  For those of you who know anything about this film, Shyamalan is attached to it (he wrote the story).  However, not only is this movie pretty scary, the theology that runs throughout is impressive.  It begins with Scripture and has biblical themes until the credits roll.  It is a violent film, but it doesn’t relish in gore like so many (less-creative) horror films.  I’ve written more about it here.

Just so you know, I don’t think all of these are classics and I don’t think this is the definitive horror list.  I do, however, enjoy these films and think they offer some good scares if you’re ever in the mood.

Advertisements

sleepyFriday is October 31st and that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  For some it represents a Satanic holiday, for others it represents Reformation Day, for a few it’s a day for them to dress inappropriately and not feel as inappropriate (it’s always inappropriate…just so you know), and for most it’s an easy day to score some candy.  So, whether or not you’re knocking on doors, hiding in your house with the porch lights off, or treating it as any other day…I hope you have a nice Friday.

One truth we cannot escape is the reality of seasons.  Pretty much anywhere you are, there’s been a change in the air.  For most, it’s a bit cooler and Fall has been ushered in.  Without a doubt, this has brought a certain feel into your life.  Maybe you like the Fall, maybe you hate cooler weather, or maybe you’re indifferent, but I would venture to say you are participating in this seasonal feel whether you think about it or not.

It could be that you’re simply wearing different clothes that have been hanging dormant in your closet.  Maybe you have filled your pantry with meals you only cook during certain times of the year.  It could be that you look forward to that pumpkin spiced latte, beer, or shake that’s only available for a limited time.  Or, maybe there are certain movies you watch and they revolve around the seasons.

Christmas is, most likely, the obvious time for seasonal flicks.  (You can check out our top 10 Christmas films here.)  However, I’ve received a few emails from Redbox and Netflix that seem to imply others have certain films they watch around this time.  Friday the 13th and Halloween are obvious favorites for people who liked to be spooked – and relish in gore, for that matter.

I, for one, always like to watch (at least part) of Sleepy Hollow around Halloween each year.  For starters, I grew up watching the Mickey Mouse version of Sleepy Hollow and have since been intrigued by the story.  I don’t know how others couldn’t be fascinated of a story about a headless horseman – am I right?  The first time I saw Tim Burton’s rendition of Sleepy Hollow, I thought it was very well done.  I also thought Johnny Depp did an excellent job – and this was years before his Pirates of the Caribbean fame.  However, I must say that I don’t enjoy the latter half of the film as much now and am a bit disappointed in some of the content.  So, I’m not recommending you watch it.

For me, one of the main reasons I enjoy the film is the cinematography.  It just seems to capture the feel of the Halloween season I described earlier.  There’s an eerie darkness throughout that seems to resonate with the overall sense of the season.  However, why is it that we have this feel?  Why do we eat certain foods and watch certain flicks during certain times?  Well, I think it’s because of the Garden.

You see, one of God’s many graces he continues to bestow upon us is the change in seasons.  Variety is the spice of life, because God knew what he was doing.  The same temperature, the same food, the same day after day after day, would become a bit mundane.  However, God – in his infinite grace – still blesses us with different feels associated with seasons, even though we sinned against him.  He still allows us to anticipate cooler or warmer temps instead of punishing us by making the weather a cool 50 degrees or a warm 80 every day until he returns.

In his grace, we still have different seasons and I think this is one truth that still reverberates with creation.  These seasons point to our infinitely creative God and we try to capture this feeling by capturing the seasons.  We capture the seasons with our meals, films, and traditions.  There’s something “pre-fall” about these feels and we long to hold on to them in various ways.  So, whether it’s the cool air of Fall, the warm sand at a beach, or clutching a cup of hot chocolate by a fire, enjoy the change and give thanks to the Creator of that great gift.

jaws 1In 1975, a now-famous theme song—a haunting melody, its foreboding refrain feigning cacophony—announced the presence of a shark; and the shark, in turn, taught us to fear the ocean. For almost forty years now, that shark has terrified audiences. But when a film like Jaws endures for this length of time, there must be something more, something deeper, than a fear of sharks that compels us to watch. The real reason that Jaws is terrifying is because it forces us to confront a reality we fear the most: our smallness. This sense of smallness, which is primarily achieved through the film’s theme of isolation, makes audiences feel feeble and helpless, out of control, and, thus, terrified

The film opens with a shark attack at a nighttime beach party, as a young woman named Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) leads her love interest away from the party and toward the beach for a romantic swim. The girl enters the water. Her would-be lover, being heavily intoxicated, passes out on the beach and is unable to follow. Alone in the ocean, Chrissie is pulled under the water. She resurfaces—but is then violently jerked back and forth like a rag doll. Her cries for help are in vain. Once again she is pulled under; this time, she does not return. This scene’s power to evoke fear stems from the fact that it depicts Chrissie as an isolated and, therefore, helpless sort of everyman figure. That is, as spectators, we acknowledge that we could very easily be in Chrissie’s position. And the realization that we cannot control nature—that we are powerless against it—fills us with fear. In addition, this theme of an isolation that magnifies our smallness becomes even more prevalent as the film progresses.

In Jaws we meet Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), who has recently been appointed Chief of Police in Amity, a small island town. Brody, aware that there is a killer shark in the area, has to fight the self-serving city politicians and locals for the right to do his job. One of the central conflicts in the first half of the film, then, is not man versus nature but man versus man. The mayor is not willing to close the beaches for the fourth of July weekend because he does not want to cause a panic, hurt local businesses, and damage his own ego. Adding to Brody’s frustration is the fact that many of the locals do not trust him since he is not “not an islander.” People stare and make snide jokes and eventually turn on him when the shark takes a young boy’s life. In other words, Brody is an outsider; he feels impotent and dwarfed by his surroundings, both politically and socially.

Jaws 2In a later, particularly frightening scene, shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) comes face-to-face with a type of isolation that makes him acutely aware of his smallness. He dives into the dark and murky water to explore a wrecked fishing boat and discovers an enormous shark tooth. Then, he realizes the gravity of the situation: he is in the water with one of the world’s top predators. The unilluminated sea that dominates the shots in this scene gives the impression that the owner of that tooth could be lurking just out of sight. Suddenly, the body of a dead fisherman floats on screen. A closeup of Hooper’s terrified reaction is shown as the soundtrack blares shrilly. The terror of it all is that we are right there with Hooper—alone.

The theme of isolation reaches its apotheosis as Brody, Hooper, and Quint (Robert Shaw) take a ship out to sea to kill the shark. Brody must leave his family and face his fear of the ocean. There will be no land in sight where they are going. The ocean, its beautiful and serene surface cloaking the killer it hides, stretches for miles. Here, Spielberg does a marvelous job utilizing numerous long shots to show us just how alone the crew is. It is almost as if the ocean becomes a central character, a deadly foe in its own right. Finally, after a face-to-face encounter, Brody arrives at the logical conclusion: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

jaws 3When taken as a whole, these scenes of isolation show us that there is something we fear more than people, oceans, and sharks. We fear our smallness above all, for we are accustomed to acting as if we are the center of the universe. Full of pride and selfishness, we are terrified to think that we can be brought so low. Indeed, what Jaws really shows us is that we are deeply afraid of being humbled—of losing control. Moreover, it pulls us out of our self-absorbed state and reminds us that we do not rule the world—that we are, in fact, tiny beings.

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?” God asks.

No.

Still, He cares for you.

Embrace your smallness.

This post is a few years old, but decided to run it again because of Monday’s post.

_______________________________

Hannibal Lecture, Norman Bates, & Darth Vader; three of cinemas greatest villains. According to the American Film Institute, these are the top three greatest villains of all time. The shark from Jaws, the alien from Alien, and the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also made it in the top twenty.

What is it about these villains that make them better than the average villain? Why is it when we think of Darth Vader, for example, that we think, Yes! He’s an awesome villain. For starters, he’s got the force, his outfit is pretty cool, and his voice/breathing has left a lasting impression on culture (thanks James Earl Jones). But, he also crushes a man’s neck in Episode IV, as well as, cutting off several other character’s breathing, ending their life. Is that good? Does that make him awesome?

We at Reel Thinking, recently composed a list of the top villains/henchmen in the James Bond franchise. It got me thinking, should we really cheer for the bad guys? What criteria do we use to judge whether or not a villain is a ‘good’ villain? Or, is it okay to like the villain in some cases?

According to AFI’s criteria, they state,

For voting purposes, a “villain” was defined as a character(s) whose wickedness of mind, selfishness of character and will to power are sometimes masked by beauty and nobility, while others may rage unmasked. They can be horribly evil or grandiosely funny, but are ultimately tragic.*

This is a carefully crafted definition, but ultimately it’s praising crafty, wickedness or, simply, in-your-face evil. Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Craftiness

The AFI definition states that the wickedness and evil is sometimes masked by beauty and nobility; i.e. craftiness. When I hear the word ‘crafty’, I think of Satan. In Genesis 3:1 we read that the serpent was more crafty than all the other animals. The serpent was wicked, yet there was something attractive about him. His evil wasn’t repulsive or Adam and Eve would have run in the other direction. His wickedness had an appeal, or beauty if you will, that made Adam and Eve run to him, resulting in the Fall of mankind. Therefore, we can say that evil sometimes possesses a certain level of beauty and appeal.

In-Your-Face-Evil

Some of the villains on the AFI list are those who rage unmasked or are considered horribly evil. Villains like Freddy Krueger, the shark from Jaws, and Terminator from The Terminator. We wouldn’t say that these villains possess a lot of beauty. I know a shark is part of God’s creation, so we can say they possess a certain level of beauty. However, if you were swimming in open water and you spotted a great white racing towards you, I doubt you would think – What beauty that creature possesses!

Some of the villains on the silver screen are pure evil. What is it about those villains that leave a lasting impression? They possess a certain level of power, justice, and wrath we appreciate.

Even though they may use those attributes in a dishonoring way, the attributes, in and of themselves, are godly. We know God as all-powerful, or omnipotent. He is just. And because of his holiness, justice and love, he is wrath too. All of these attributes, however, are only used in a beautiful way that makes his glory known.

Therefore, I think we can appreciate villains. We must be cautious in cheering for the bad guy or taking pleasure in these godly attributes being employed in a villainous manner. However, these attributes, pre-perversion, can help us better understand our mighty God.

_________________________________
*http://www.afi.com/100Years/handv.aspx

World_War_Z_posterGenerally speaking, I don’t enjoy zombie movies. They’re just not my thing. I was shocked to discover that I had a desire to see World War Z; and while I still can’t explain my desire, I can offer a word of encouragement to those weighing the merits of watching it: it’s not a zombie movie per se. World War Z, while having its fair share of frightening moments, is more at home in the disaster/adventure genre. As a result, I enjoyed the movie more that I thought I would. It turned out that as I was watching, World War Z I had another surprise in store: it reminded me of the Old Testament book of Obadiah. Let me explain. One of the main themes of Obadiah is pride, and one way in which World War Z succeeds is in its accurate depiction of the pride of humanity. In order to illustrate this point, let me give a very brief overview of Obadiah before turning to World War Z. We’ll see that the two are not as unrelated as it seems.

Obadiah—the shortest book in the Old Testament—is essentially an oracle against Edom in which God promises to judge Edom for its pride (Obadiah 1:3). In Obadiah we see that the Edomites were prideful because of the supposed safety of their capital city (1:3), which was nestled in the high sandstone cliffs indigenous to the region. Their city could only be entered by one narrow pathway surrounded by cliffs. The city itself was built into the walls of the cliffs. Easily defended and heavily fortified Edom was thought to be impregnable. The strength and safety of their city led the Edomites to become prideful—to scoff at the idea that they could be defeated. “Who will bring me down to the ground?”(1:3) was their anthem of pride; and the pride of the Edomites is very similar to the pride of the people in World War Z.

World War Z showcases an Edom-esque sort of God-hating pride. We follow Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) around the world—from location to location—only to see safe places overrun and prideful people humbled. First, we are brought to a high-rise apartment complex in Newark where Gerry and his family take shelter with another family. The Lane family is soon evacuated, and the family that stayed behind—minus one young boy who followed Gerry out of the building—is killed by the zombies. Like the citizens of Edom, they were certain that their home could save them from impending doom. Gerry is later persuaded to accompany a virologist and a team of Navy Seals to a military base in South Korea to find the inception point of the zombie virus. However, the team is attacked; and Gerry is forced to flee—but not before he realizes that he must go to Jerusalem to find answers. Gerry arrives at  Jerusalem to find that the city has been turned into a massive fort, complete with massively tall walls that keep the zombies out of the city. The citizens and refugees of Jerusalem are so confident they are safe that they begin to sing a song of celebration. Attracted by the raucous singing, the zombies rush toward the wall, forming an undead ladder of sorts, and breach the city. The people’s pride leads to their downfall—just like in Obadiah. Gerry subsequently finds himself on a commercial airliner. He thinks he is safe, but (surprise) there is a zombie on board. The plane crashes, and Gerry barely survives. Yet again, the pride of the people in World War Z is strangely similar to the pride of the Edomites.

WORLD WAR Z

So, what hath World War Z to do with Obadiah? Quite a bit, actually. The truth which World War Z highlights is that humans are fundamentally prideful. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, testifies to this reality as well. Left to our own devices, we would forget God and take comfort in the counterfeit safety our nation or our home provides. Without Christ our only hope is that we are evolved enough to handle whatever nature throws our way. World War Z  and Obadiah bothshow that to be prideful is to be supremely foolish. In the end, even though it offers a counter-narrative to the modern humanistic notion that humans are basically good, World War Z fails to convince me that I need more zombie movies in my life.

Eli Roth is Pretty Sick

Posted: June 30, 2014 by jperritt in Horror
Tags: , , , , ,

green-inferno-poster-900My first exposure to Eli Roth came through one of my friends comments about Roth’s film, Cabin Fever.  This friend of mine could handle movie violence a bit better than I could, so he thought he would be just fine.  After watching the film, he summed up his thoughts in one word – Sick!  After pulling a bit more out of him, he stated the film was simply over-the-top gross and he could hardly handle it.

Without either of us knowing who Eli Roth was (the director of CF), we were introduced to a common component in his films – graphic violence.  Well, this film seemed to put Roth on the map, so he has continued to write/direct/star in many other films.  Not only do his films contain graphic violence, they typically contain graphic nudity, as well as, disturbing acts of torture.

Another series of films that seemed to bring his name back into the lime-light were the “torture-porn” films, Hostel Hostel 2.  These films (which I have not seen but heard/read much about) contain sick acts of torture occurring to unsuspecting tourists.  Basically, any horrible thing you could think of (and some you couldn’t think of) are depicted in these movies.

And now, the reason I am bringing him up today, is because of two forthcoming films he’s associated with – The Green Inferno The Sacrament.  Roth is directing TGI (he also co-wrote the screenplay), and only producing TS.  Although both films have differing plots, they are similar in their sickening depravity.  And they both prove how utterly disgusting Eli Roth’s heart and mind are.

sacramentNow, some of you may think that I’m being a little harsh on Eli, but I’m simply using his words.  In the trailer for TGI it states, “From the twisted mind of horror master Eli Roth”.  In other words, all this talk is only assisting him in his PR tactics for his films (you’re welcome, Eli).  Roth loves his twisted mind.  He loves that he’s known for being sick.  He loves it so much, he ensures it’s going to be used in the marketing of his films.  To say it another way, being twisted has become his identity.

While I do want to discuss the term “horror master” associated with Eli Roth, I’ll only say a couple of things because I want to focus on his twisted heart.  The term horror master needs to be associated with directors that put thought and care into their craft.  Anyone, I repeat, anyone can use graphic violence and disturbing torture scenes to get a reaction out of an audience.  Roth could more accurately be labeled “gross-out master”, but horror master is a bit of a stretch.  Back to twisted ol’ Eli.

Proverbs 17:20a states, “One with a twisted mind will not succeed,”.  Again, Roth has become known as the twisted, violent, sex-crazed, horror director.  He’s built his identity around this content.  Basically, if you hear his name associated with the screenplay, directing, or producing, you can expect to see twisted sex and violence.  But, as the above Scripture states, he will not succeed.

You see, one thing Christians can agree with Roth on is that mankind’s heart is twisted.  Roth’s heart is twisted, my heart is twisted, and your heart is twisted.  And, what Roth has done, is tapped into that twisted nature.  There’s something intriguing about sex and violence to all of us (for starters, God created sex).  Yes, by God’s grace, some of us aren’t as drawn to these distortions as others, but there is still a sinful tug – a moment of curiosity – some of us feel.  He has realized this and exploited it for gain, but God’s Word says otherwise.  God’s Word ensures emptiness, destruction, and failure to those indulging in twisted wickedness.

While many in this world seek to exploit that darkness, God exploits grace.  He grants it to people who are undeserving.  He lavishes love on those who hate.  He grants compassion to those deemed as lesser by the world.  And he’s all about redeeming the twisted hearts of mankind.  Roth’s exploitation will only result in further emptiness, God’s, however, grants life and freedom to a twisted bunch of sinners like you and me.

Sharknado: Equal Parts Shark & Tornado

Posted: January 9, 2014 by jperritt in Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Tags:

PHvf6lEANnmQyD_3_mOn New Year’s Eve my wife and I watched the chipper Kathy Lee and Hoda take a look back at 2013.  They highlighted  sports stories, viral videos, and celebrity gossip that was most tweeted and talked about.  Among the top stories of this past year was the B-film, Sharknado.  Let that sink in a minute.  Of all the events in the world over this past year, Sharknado was considered worthy enough to discuss.  The truth is, many of us may laugh at that reality (myself included) but should we?  In a sense, I think we should feel some level of shame and embarrassment over that truth.

For those of you who are out of the loop on the whole Sharknado craze, let me catch you up.

Sharknado, as you can tell from the artistic poster, tells the story of a hurricane filled with sharks (I guess Sharkicane didn’t have the same ring to it).  A freak hurricane sweeps across the sea and sucks up sharks that are flung upon Los Angeles.  As we know, sharks gotta eat, so they chomp at victims as they fly through the air.

In it’s initial showing on the SyFy Network, it was viewed by 1.37 million viewers, which was somewhat small.  By it’s third airing (that’s right, the aired it 2 more times) the film reached 2.1 million viewers, which broke records for SyFy.  Much of the popularity can be attributed to the number of tweets about the film, and now SyFy has announced a sequel which has been creatively titled, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

And why was Sharknado so popular?  Why was it mentioned as one of the most talked-about films of last year?  Why was it tweeted about millions of times?  And why did it break network records?  Because it was horrific!  It was’t just bad, it was awful and it was popular for being awful.  I must admit that the horrific nature of this film actually makes me want to see it.

This is the dilemma I face as a Christian, though.  I’m not so much concerned about viewing the shark violence, I’m concerned about viewing something that seeks to be awful.  Should Christians laugh at something that’s striving to be so bad it’s laughed at?  Aren’t we to praise hard work?  Aren’t we to strive after excellence?  If that’s true, then I find it hard to watch something that doesn’t strive for much other than being awful.  Not to mention the fact that the filmmakers are solely pursuing money.  Let’s face it, they didn’t make Sharknado to lose money.  And they also didn’t exercise much mental effort to make Sharknado.

So what does this say about mankind?  Here are a few things it tells us about much of humanity (much, not all):

  • People laugh at mediocrity.
  • People are okay with wasting their only life.
  • People often don’t use their time wisely.
  • People are typically mindless when watching movies.
  • People often don’t live with an eternity in mind.
  • People really like sharks.
  • People really like tornadoes/hurricanes.
  • People like violence.
  • People will settle for less.
  • People struggle with exercising self-control.

What do you think?  Am I being too harsh?  Too pessimistic about mankind?  Maybe so.  I should probably start taking shark-filled tornado disaster movies more seriously.

Devil-Poster-Short-4-8-10-kcDevil was a movie that surprised me in many ways.  I was surprised that the gore was minimized.  I was surprised at its overall quality. And, I was surprised it was a movie which was ultimately about faith, repentance and forgiveness.

Being a youth director, I’m often on the lookout for movies that would be good to watch in a group setting.  I want to find films that are fun to watch, while containing some great biblical parallels.  Unfortunately, many of the movies that are explicitly Christian are heavy on the cheese factor.  However, there are also those films that go a bit too far and have content unsuitable for a youth group setting. Devil is one of those films that’s right on the fence.  While it definitely contains violence, it is minimized.  Each time a person is killed by the Devil, the lights go out so the viewer doesn’t see exactly what happens.  Even the aftermath isn’t maximized as some movies tend to do.

However, I think many Christians shutter that I would ever consider showing this film to students.  But, they don’t shutter because of the violence or language.  They shutter because I would consider showing a film called Devil to teenagers.  They shutter because many Christian don’t like to talk about the Devil.  They shutter because the Devil is just plain awful, so why watch a movie about him?

Well, not only do I want my students to watch Devil because it is ultimately about faith, repentance, and forgiveness, but I want them to be reminded that the Devil is very real.  I want them to have the reminder from Peter which says, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” [1 Peter 5:8b]  Oh yeah, that verse is quoted at the beginning of the film – imagine that, quoting Scripture at the beginning of “secular” movie!?

You see, I’m afraid we may have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Yes, Satan is the king of liars, he is the father of darkness, and yes he is pure evil, but abstaining from films with his depiction can make him seem mythical.  Tim Challies had a recent article (which was in reference to a sermon) entitled Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?  As the article states,

We need to believe that Satan exists, that he is powerful and that he will stop at nothing to hurt, hinder and destroy us. He is not an idea. He is not a theory or hypothesis or explanation. He is real, and it is crucial that we remember and believe it.

This is ultimately why I want to show this movie to our youth.  The Devil just seems like a fairy-tale to many of them.  Not only does this movie bring the realities of the Devil’s prowling home to us, but the realities of what hanging on to our hate does to us.  The movie communicates the power of forgiveness and the freedom that accompanies it.  So, this is why I wish I could show it to my students. I wish they could be scared by the realities of Satan.  I wish they could see the illustrations of repentance.  I wish they could see the power of faith that frees one from the Devil.  And, I wish they could see how a film can bring the realities of Scripture to bear in their hearts in a fresh way.

But, the movie is PG-13 and has violent and scary images, so it’s probably best to avoid such a film.

Evil Dead“The most terrifying film you will ever experience.”  What an over-confident tagline!  Obviously, the marketers of this film are trying to draw you into the theater so you can be absolutely sure if this is really the most terrifying film ever.  Is it really scarier than the original Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, or A Nightmare on Elm Street?  Okay, maybe I’m dating myself here; I was never a huge horror movie fan.  Until researching for this post, I didn’t even know that Evil Dead is a remake of the “cult classic” The Evil Dead released in 1981!  I was just 15 at the time, so I was probably more into the original Star Wars trilogy than young people possessed by demons.

Here’s the plot synopsis, according to IMDB: “Five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.”  Yes, there are several immediate issues here that raise the flag that says: HORROR MOVIE COMING!  Friends stuck in a remote cabin in the woods.  A Book of the Dead just so happens to find itself in this cabin.  Demons sleeping in the woods.  No wonder I never go camping!

Now if I’m holed up with friends in a cabin in the woods, I would hope we would break out a game of Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary before we choose to read from the Book of the Dead.  What is a Book of the Dead, anyway?  Well, a Book of the Dead was often placed in coffins in ancient kingdoms, like Egypt.  This book, or scroll, was filled with magical spells that were intended to help the dead person in his or her journey to the afterlife.  So it makes sense that when a Book of the Dead is opened today, and its spells are read, that demons living in woods would possess youngsters, right?

TheEvilDeadAs ludicrous as Evil Dead’s premise is, we would be in grave error if we simply dismiss the reality of demon possession.  Scripture gives us several examples of people who are demon possessed, and the descriptions are not very pretty.  Satan and his minions are real, and they have the power to radically transform someone’s life.  For example, the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5) had severe personality change, antisocial behavior, super-human strength, and a tendency to self-destruction.  He was so tormented and dangerous that he lived among the dead in the “tombs.”  No one could bind or control him.  I would bet that if he were locked in a remote cabin with a bunch of his buddies, he would kill some (or all) of them!

So the reality of demon possession should be one of the most terrifying things in this life.  If demons were in total control of things, we would end up hopelessly destroying one another.  Even friends would turn on one another.  And it would be totally normal to do whatever it takes to get away from someone possessed by demons.  The truth is that we should want people to believe that demons are real and powerful!  We need them to embrace a “super-naturalistic” view of the world, rather than simply dismissing demons as the stuff of myths or fairytales.  A movie like Evil Dead should be a sobering drama rather than some just some sort of unrealistic horror story where we are rooting for people to live or die.

If a person comes to truly believe that demons are real, then it is just one more step to believe that there is only one real solution to demonic activity in this world.  In Mark 5, we read that the townspeople were totally incapable of dealing with the demoniac.  Counseling or medication would not do the trick.  He could not just be locked away in an institution.  The demoniac could not even control himself.  Then, Jesus showed up on the scene!  The demons were cast into pigs and destroyed.  The once-possessed individual was restored to sanity.  And what did this man want to do then?  He longed to follow Jesus!  Instead, His Lord and Savior made this delivered man into a missionary to his own people.  He was to tell others what Jesus did for Him, and that Jesus is the ONLY deliverer from the EVIL DEAD!

Now just imagine if Evil Dead ended with one of the “twenty-somethings” realizing that the only way to stop the demons was to put his faith in Jesus!  Now, that would be a totally ridiculous plot twist, wouldn’t it?  Most moviegoers would rather just see one “hero” survive a demonic attack all on his own. instead of needing a Savior to come to the cabin and cast the demons into a herd of swine.  Then they can comfortably go home after experiencing the “most terrifying film ever” still believing that demons (and Jesus) don’t really exist.  Instead of reading the Book of the Dead, they need to read the only Book that gives LIFE!

Warm Bodies Need Love

Posted: February 1, 2013 by jperritt in Comedy, Horror
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

warm_bodies_ver2Yesterday we took a look at the theme of community and human connection in the film Warm Bodies. The film seems to communicate that many of us are really nothing more than zombies walking through life without connecting.

Today we will explore another theme of Warm Bodies, love.

As I mentioned from the premise, R falls in love with a girl named Julie after he saves her from death. R is a zombie and Julie is zombie food, so this poses a problem. How can two very different people come together? Is this not always the problem in love stories?

The high school quarterback falls in love with the nerdy girl or the cheerleader falls in love with the chess team champion. In the end, the nerd usually takes off their glasses and all of a sudden they belong on the cover of a magazine. But, there is typically a dilemma to love.

Two people want to come together, but something is stopping them. Whether it’s an unfair parent, school teacher, preacher, or a zombie apocalypse, love is being held at bay.

This may seem to be so cliched, but that’s only because every love story copies the one true love story of Jesus Christ. You see, God created a people he loved and cared for. He gave them everything they needed. Provided beautiful scenery and food. Gave them endless freedoms. Yet, they rebelled against him. Having a loving God wasn’t enough for mankind, they wanted to be their own god.

After that rebellion, God still loved his creation, but there was a dilemma. Sin was separating them. A holy God could not love his sinful people without punishing the sin. Therefore, God chose to love his creation by taking on flesh and coming to earth. The dilemma was sin, the answer was Jesus Christ. Jesus came to the earth, took the wrath of our sin, and gave us his righteousness. Now the Father’s love could be placed on his children. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-5:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ

Warm Bodies is affirming this love story. Before God revealed his love to us, we were merely dead (like zombies) walking around. Just like Julie’s love transforms R from a lifeless body into a warm body, the love of Christ does the same for us. Maybe this is why zombie movies have always been, and are continuing to be, so popular. We identify with these dead bodies because this is exactly what we were. And this is what we would have remained had Christ not become a dead body for us. He took the curse of sin, entered the grave, but then conquered it.

While we all currently have warm bodies, our bodies are growing cold and lifeless. The sobering truth is, we will die. Our warm bodies will one day grow cold, unless Christ comes before that. However, since
Christ has already come and defeated death, those who have faith in him will not just have a warm body, but a glorified one.