Why Are British Horror Films Less Schlocky Than Hollywood’s Efforts

Finding an article about Christian propaganda in horror films on a Yahoo group, Seers and Seekers, made me reflect on the wide and widening differences in US and British culture.

When it comes to Christian propaganda films, most people think of the obnoxious God’s Not Dead, or Nic Cage’s get-me-out-of-IRS-debt Left Behind—criticially reviled assaults on the secular world that occasionally make a lot of money. But there’s another genre that seems to have the same proselytizing agenda that champions Christianity and demonizes all other faiths (including the faithless): horror movies.

Every year we endure more of these predictably edited, laughably plotted thrillers centered around a young girl foolishly toying with the tools of Satan (usually a Ouija Board), becoming possessed by a demon, and then being exorcised by a priest who was struggling with his faith but now sees the error of rational thinking.

It’s true that not all horror films serve as mouthpieces for Christianity—there are even a few examples that condemn church leaders—but nearly any horror film that touches on the supernatural will either condemn the faithless ( The Conjuring, The Rite ), frame non-Jesus religions as spooky (The Wicker Man, The Exorcist, Sinister ), or claim that Biblical prophecy is coming to pass (Legion, The Omen). Even slasher films with no ties to religion often dabble in moralistic tropes against drugs, premarital sex, or doing anything the least bit salacious.
You can read the whole article here (though beyond the central question it has little relevance outside the USA, but its is well written and informative).

Being British probably restricts my ability to comment on some aspects of this post because the evangelical Christian movement here is not powerful, but I do not find our horror films to project a Christian message. The most recent British horror to attain cult status, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later warns of the dangers of placing too much faith in scientists rather than ensuring their projects are supervised. If anyone needs confirmation of that, remember that until a couple of years ago outbreaks of Ebola had infected a few dozen people then fizzled out, then something changed and we had an outbreak that infected thousands and killed hundreds in West Africa. It may have been pure coincidence of course that in the few years leading up to that outbreak a team from the United States DARPA biological warfare group had been operating in the area where the outbreak began.

Stepping daintily over Shaun Of The Dead we have to go back a long way to other classic British horror, vehicles such as Ken Russel’s The Devils or Michael Reeves Witchchfinder General depict the horrors perpetrated by religious fanaticism and mobs led by rabble rousing preachers.

I think it’s off target to describe The Wicker Man as Christian propaganda, while Police Sergeant Howie, sent to investigate reports of ritual sacrifice on Summerisle is indeed a devout Calvinist (one of the Wee Wee Frees – The Reformed Free Church of Scotland (there’s the Church of Scotland (Anglican) The Free Church Of Scotland – The Wee Frees, rather fundamentalist Calvinists, and the Reformed Free Church Of Scotland (totally unrelenting ‘thou-shalt-not-breathe-on-the-Lords-day’ Calvinists) or something like that. The point, in the context of this discussion,  is that Howie’s faith and prayers do not save him, God does not rescue him from the burning wicker cage and the final scene, as the wicker man containing Howie’s charred body collapses in flames  the screen is dominated by the setting sun, the end of a repeating cycle, the pagan message is clear (Igne natura renovatur integra).

Excluding the rather camp Hammer Horrors of the 1960s others worth remembering, such as Village Of The Damned or Day Of The Triffids are sci-fi / horror hybrids with no religious impliations.

So it seems the Christian propaganda horror genre is an American phenomenon. The answer? Lobby US producers and directors to find stories that have a decent plot and engaging characters who use intelligence and creative thinking to achieve seemingly impossible goals (remember the twelve labours of Hercules?) or escape fates worse than death, rather that trusting in faith and prayer.

 
RELATED POSTS:

Elsewhere: [ The Original Boggart Blog] … [ Daily Stirre.shtml ]…[Little Nicky Machiavelli]… [ Ian’s Authorsden Pages ]… [ It’s Bollocks My Dears, All Bollocks ] [Scribd]…[Wikinut] … [ Boggart Abroad] … [ Grenteeth Bites ] … [ Latest Posts ] [Ian Thorpe at Flickr ] … [Latest Posts] … [ Tumblr ] … [Ian at Minds ] … [ Authorsden blog ] … [Daily Stirrer News Aggregator]
 

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