Of all the many genres of filmmaking, one of the most successful of all has been the horror film. I say this because there are many other genres, such as historical dramas and biographical films, that don’t do so well when transferred from original text to the big screen. Many have spotty records when it comes to accuracy and faithfulness to the facts . What makes horror movies different is that they all have one common theme-and that theme is fear. And since fear is a primordial and universal emotion that visits all of us from time to time, we can relate to it in many different ways.Fear is also a highly subjective emotion that calls on us to constantly examine and re-evaluate its influence and power in our lives. We also have to determine for ourselves just how much power we will give it to control us. Still, at other times, fear is as objective and real as our physical bodies. In times of real danger, we must recognize its power to radically damage or even destroy our lives and well being. This is where the guidance of the Bible is so constructive. It addresses all the lethal effects that fear can have over us- whether physically, psychologically, spiritually or emotionally.
Two uses of fear
Jesus clearly has two separate proscriptions for how we are to deal with fear. For believers, there is the constant command to not give into fear. He tells us “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me” He also says “Fear not, little flock. For it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. The most significant verse, however, has a two part message for both the believer and the non-believer. The first half is addressed to the believer, and the second half to the non-believer. He tells them, ” fear not him who is able to kill the body and do no more, but fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”- Luke 12:5,7 For the believer, there is an amount of consolation in those words that is equal to the amount of dread that the second half could inspire in the non-believer. For the believer, there is an absolute assurance of God’s salvation, even in death. Here we find the eternal faith and fearlessness that the great men of the Bible exhibited. This was reserved for men like Joshua, Elijah, and Moses. Great men of God trusted God when He led them into battle and assured them that ” a thousand will fall at your right, and ten thousand at your left, but none shall touch you” Admittedly, this is an extremely difficult task for even the most faithful, but one that is definitely worth striving for. Conversely, the second half of that statement should inspire a sober reassessment of one’s life and its purpose in the non-believer. God’s ability to destroy both body and soul provides a reminder that God reveals and sees all of the underlying motives behind our actions. Jesus went about continuously uncovering hypocrisy, pride and self-righteousness in the church leaders and many others around Him, including even His disciples. This can inspire dread to the non-believer and at the same time, hope, in knowing that God exposes and punishes all forms of hypocrisy. We can take great solace and encouragement in the realization that God will eventually abolish all that is specious, sinister, and predicated upon lies. So, to get back to the original topic, just what can a good horror flick teach us?
Fear in the movies
One of the earliest themes of horror films was undoubtedly the character known as Dracula. This was loosely based on the citizens of Roumania who, in medieval times, imagined that their departed loved ones may have had unfinished business and needed to reconnect to the material world. The fear of vampires was actually quite real, and even biblically based in that the people recognized that the way to regain life was to drink blood. Of course, in scripture, the only sacrifice worth offering was a blood sacrifice. As Leviticus tells us, the life is in the blood. Later, the personality of Dracula would be influenced by the cruelty of the real life prince known as Vlad the Impaler. Dracula has had a long and distinguished career in films. He began with the tale of Nosferatu the Vampyre, continued through the silent film version Lon Chaney played, and finished with the most convincing Dracula of all, Christopher Lee. Dracula continues to amaze and influence us to this day. In the recent Twilight series of films, the subject of vampires found a whole new audience of millenials. The Buffy the Vampire slayer series, with the spinoff show Angel, showed that our fascination with the undead was not letting up. Even Tom Cruise got a cameo in with his film Interview with the Vampire. Combine this with the endless films on zombies and zombie apocalypses, and one thing is clear- our society is fixated on death. Later in cinema, there was a brief episode of animal/human films, but it was not as big. This was seen in the Wolfman, the film American Werewolf in London, and also the Incredible Hulk tv show . Frankenstein also made a notable appearance, and gave the first hint of interest in genetic manipulation. Genetic mutations would emerge as another popular theme. As society became increasingly violent, we saw the emergence of the “slasher” films. Eventually this would lead to our interest in 24 hour crime channels such as the I D channel (Investigation Discovery). But the beginnings took place in the 70’s and 80’s, with films like the Texas Chainsaw massacre, as well as Freddy Krueger and the Halloween Mike Myers films. In times of overwhelming social change, we would tend to see overtly religious films with emphasis on either the devil or the apocalypse (The Omen, the Exorcist).
The Fear that once haunted us all, and still should
Of all the themes that have appeared over the years, there is one common element that all share. They all showed people with a fear of losing themselves, or their soul, to an unknown and malevolent force. In the Dracula series, the only answer to the vampire’s bite was to flash the crucifix in his face. In the Omen, the only answer is to drive a stake in the heart of the little antichrist. In zombie films, such as Night of the Living Dead, the only deterrent was to wave fire in the faces of the dead, warning them of their eternal damnation. Surprisingly, there were no films about “friendly” alien invaders. With the possible exception of E T, and a few of those funny Martian movies from the 50’s, outer space has not been a promising frontier for mankind now or in the future. The UFO phenomenon has become increasingly threatening to our psyche. As seen in films like Independence Day, it is clear that” they” are all out to get us as well.
Throughout, there have always been films about losing one’s soul to the state. The dangers of conforming to a governing body bent on totalitarian control has been used by scoundrels of all stripes for decades. Whether it be through the Nazi propagandists out to dehumanize the Jew, or environmentalist fanatics forecasting the earth’s destruction by evil mankind (see Avatar, by James Cameron), one thing seems certain- there is a potential dictator behind every door! But during the 1950’s and 60’s, there was a more subtle fear present. It was also one that applies more directly to Christians than any other. It was the fear of simple conformity. Conformity to what?, you may ask. It is conformity to” this present world ” And this, for us, is the most dangerous conformity of all
How the culture lulls us to sleep
Fear of what is called “progress” is nothing new. It has always haunted humans whenever things moved too quickly for their liking. Charlie Chaplin famously made a movie showing his discomfort with the industrial revolution. It was called “Modern Times” It showed him in awkward situations working on an assembly line making cars. The message was that repetitive action would dull one’s soul and make one less human. Later, in the 1950’s, a book came out called the Organization Man. It claimed that corporate America was selling a vision of suburban life that was bland and robotic, with people working as mere “cogs in the machinery”. They worked in little office cubicles, and went home to boring look-a-like and “ticky tacky” homes in suburbia. There was even a song about it, by folk singer Pete Seeger. It spoke of “little boxes on the hillside” all full of “ticky tacky” and all looking the same. Sameness. Blandness. These were part of what led to the entire counterculture revolt that we saw in the 1960’s. No one wanted to show up to work in a suit and go home to a boring life in the suburbs. The word applied to these soulless and vapid automatons was “plastic”. They were given this name because, like plastic, there was nothing authentic, or real about them .
Was there some truth to these and previous claims? Absolutely. No doubt. Assembly line work was extremely boring and unsatisfying to a person’s soul. And certainly no one wants to look, dress, and act exactly like everyone else in a neighborhood where all the houses look the same. The Twilight Zone show did several stories that dealt with turning people into copies of other people, or false concepts of what makes for physical beauty. The point of all this is that when the counter culture, or “hippy” era came along, all the conformity of the 1950’s was replaced with something far more dangerous. And far more toxic. It also demanded far more conformity than the suburbanites ever did. This was because the hippy era of yesterday was the breeding ground for the “progressive” movement of today, or what everyone likes to disparagingly label as “political correctness”. Oh the irony, that the generation that purported to be all about individual expression and freedom of thought went on to spawn the most regimented and strangulating doctrine of thought control that we have seen since, perhaps, the Bolshevik Revolution.
Wide Awake and Conformed only to His Image
Jesus has the perfect parable for this generation in Matthew 12:45. He is describing a man who had an evil spirit cast out of him When the spirit is cast out, he finds himself in “dry places, seeking rest and finding none” He goes home to find his house swept out and decorated. He re-enters it and takes in “seven other spirits more wicked than himself”, and ” the last state of that man is worse than the first”. Then Jesus says, “Even so shall it be onto this wicked generation” And so here we are, in exactly the same condition as Jesus spoke of . We have exchanged one well intentioned, but perverted world view, for one that is far, far worse. The issue for us is not so much what we conform to or not conform to. In fact the only conformity that God requires is the kind Paul mentions in Romans 12:2. “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” A Christian’s mind should be constantly reeling and analyzing every thought presenting itself in order to “test every spirit” This is how we stay awake. This is how we fend off the vampires and zombies constantly appearing to feed off us. For example, why on earth would any sane person want to conform to the group known currently as millenials? This is the generation with no soul and no conscience. Praise God that many are waking from their zombie- like state as the Holy Spirit moves. But clearly, to conform to this group seals your soul as surely as taking the mark of the antichrist. It has nothing to do with outward appearances of any kind, including any religious ones. The real issue is our personal integrity, and ability to stay vigilant and resist all of the wiles and deceptions of the devil. This is where our great reward is. In staying sober while others riot. In staying spiritually awake, while everyone else is fast asleep. And especially in these darkest of days in human history. Jesus says to us as he said to Peter in Gethsemane, “Could you not stay awake for one hour?”
The final irony of it all
I find it extremely ironic that the creative community of writers in Hollywood come back to the theme of mass delusion again and again. It still remains the fear that haunts us all. Our greatest fear is to see our souls suddenly snatched from us by some invisible invader. Of all the monster films, slasher films, and alien films, it is the fear of losing one’s identity or soul that resurfaces more than any other in horror films. This is the great dread of humanity. If we become a zombie, we are gone. If we become a vampire, we are no longer ourselves. The theme of a handful of desperate men and women who are frantically trying to awaken the slumbering population around them of the doom that faces them- this is perhaps the most compelling theme of all in horror films. Why is this ironic? Because at this time, it is the Hollywood community that are the most deluded and blinded of all. These include the writers, actors and directors. I am probably in a minority when I say that it is not just the Bible I use for my guide in life. It is also great expressions of art and literature-and film . Actors and film makers are sometimes guilty of being taken aback by the power their work inspires. Perhaps this because they currently live in a bubble, surrounded by sycophants and political operatives. They are held captive by the idol of progressivism and can no longer see what has enslaved them. They are currently isolated in an auditorium somewhere giving themselves more trophies, awards, and self-congratulations. And all the while, they are completely oblivious to the fact that no one watches them anymore or goes to their movies.
The Pod People have Taken Over-And Only Christians are Left
One of the greatest horror films of mass delusion was the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The original first came out in the mid 1950’s. There have been at least two sequels since then, both of them very good. The one from 1978 was extremely powerful, and starred, among others, Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy. It was practically a prototype for the position that Christians find themselves in all over the world They are desperately trying to sound the alarm to the world that the” Pod People “are here and are quietly stealing people’s souls while they sleep. The Pod People come from a dying planet and a destroyed civilization. They now must feed off the people of earth in order to survive in the universe. They take over their bodies and recreate an exact replica of their victim. The only thing missing is their soul. They go undetected until every living person has been invaded, and their evil society can be established. Those who can still think for themselves are immediately marked and targeted by recent pod people from their own family. They work together with the state to see that no one is left to resist. This is just as it was when Satan and his demons were expelled from heaven. When they landed on earth, their job was to steal the souls of the earth’s inhabitants.
You have probably known a great many people who were once lively and spiritual people. They were unique individuals and bright lights- maybe a little dysfunctional, maybe eccentric- but great to be around. Then, something just changed. Suddenly they lost their sense of humor. Then it seemed that they lost all the convictions and principles they used to have. They may have terrified you out of the blue by telling you they were a “9/11 truther” Without warning, and over night it seems, they lose all empathy and real compassion. Or maybe their “compassion” was applied only to trendy and” politically correct” causes. If there is one thing this generation is known for, it is lack of any real heart. After all, we are in the advanced stages of a generation of which Jesus said, ” because iniquity will abound, the love of many shall wax cold” Paul gave greater emphasis to this fact when he stated men would be “despisers of those that are good” and ” without natural affection” If you’ve ever wondered what that term means, well…. it means teenage girls stabbing their friend to death because they’re just “tired” of her. It means killing every member of your family because you want to take the car out for a joy ride and your dad won’t let you. It means robbing the one who took you in when you were an orphan in the ghetto, just because you thought she was stupid and you didn’t owe her anything. It means completely abandoning family members and showing utter ingratitude and contempt to natural parents who gave you every opportunity and all the support any person could ask for. I should emphasize especially for the ones who gave you the most love and support. The reason is that perversion is a key component to all this generation has embraced This is what two generations without natural affection look like. This is what happens when people abandon all restraint and literally become demons. And just as you’ve finished reeling from the shock of one stomach churning depravity, a worse one pops up on cable news. That is our zeitgeist, the state of our world and our never ending, real life horror movie. It is worse than anything that anyone could ever write as fiction. Pray to your heavenly father. Confess your sins and recognize the fallen state of your soul. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your savior He will deliver you and save you. And you will be born again into his kingdom.