Holy Sinema: The History Of Christian Scare Films

This Christian Scare Film about the evils of porn and/or masturbation has been making the rounds for the last few days, and is filled with comedy gold. A heavy-lidded ginger tries to overcome temptation when he’s invited by his bud for an evening of munchies, special buzz juice and … mutual masturbation? Thankfully, his “Professor” is always standing by to provide support.

A lot of people are wondering if it’s some kind of parody, but even though it has been edited down to provide the maximum awesomeness, it is definitely real.

It’s easy to question its validity, as most Christian Scare Films run the gamut from batshit insane to really batshit insane, so who can tell a parody from the real thing anymore?

Let’s take a look back at some of the most famous, infamous, or must-be-seen-to-be-believed CSFs, and for the sake of our sanity, we’ll forgo the cheapies of the 50’s and 60’s, and concentrate on the 70’s to the present day.

The Rapture/The End Times

The mid 70’s to early 80’s was the golden era of the CSF, and the most famous entry was the Holy Trilogy of Thief In The Night, A Distant Thunder and Image Of The Beast (there was actually a fourth entry in the mid-80’s, but it’s treated as the Phantom Menace of the series).

All three films follow the journey of Patty Myers, a young wife who wakes up one morning to find that her husband has mysteriously disappeared (his giant 70’s era electric razor is still buzzing around in the bathroom sink, like a mini-lawnmower). When she turns on the radio she discovers that thousands, nee millions of people have suddenly vanished. It’s The Rapture!

The first film chronicles the rise of the new world order, UNITE (United Nations Imperium for Total Emergency). I kid you not. Everyone is required to be tattooed with the Mark Of The Beast to prove their loyalty, and those who refuse are rounded up and executed. Patty goes on the run, and in the second film, she’s arrested and faces the guillotine.

In the third (and most well known) film, Patty is almost spared a grisly death, until she learns that God Almighty has one sick, twisted sarcastic sense of humor.

This series set itself apart from all the other CSFs by virtue of having … production values, and being … actual films. They were surprisingly well made (considering the era and budget), and played mostly for church groups, and bible camps.

I remember having to sit through them at Vacation Bible School, and while the phrase “scarred for life” is overused, that’s the only way to describe how I, and I’m sure many other kids, were affected. I remember Patty’s death scene vividly (shortly after that scene played, I distinctly recall the aroma of freshly expelled urine coming from one of my fellow campers), and I vowed then and there to give my life over to Jesus (it lasted until I accidentally saw my hot camp counselor naked, and I realized I had different priorities).

If A Thief In The Night represented the best of 70’s rapture films, then Pastor Estus W. Pirkle and “filmmaker” Ron Ormond gave us the bottom of the barrel with their dual monstrosities If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? and The Burning Hell.

Footmen was a cautionary tale about the impending communist invasion, with the evil infiltrators using rock music, dancing, alcohol and TV to warp impressionable minds. After they seize control, they round up Christians and offer them a choice – they can renounce God or be executed. In the movie’s most infamous scene, a young boy makes his decision … and has to roll with the consequences.

Even more unsettling, but in an entertaining way, is their follow-up The Burning Hell, which takes us down to the tackiest hell this side of Satan’s Alley.

The 80’s and 90’s saw more low-budget end time crapfests, but such titles as Years of The Beast and The Moment After left little impression (although I do have an affinity for 1995’s Final Exit and its Vegas Demon and clench-jawed victim.)

In 2000, The Rapture finally hit the mainstream thanks to Kirk Cameron and the giggle-worthy Left Behind. It inspired two sequels, a hilarious Simpsons episode, and an upcoming big budget remake starring Nicolas Cage. Oh, you are a wrathful God.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait that long for our next Rapture fix, as this November, we’ll be given the gift of … Final: The Rapture, which looks … well, indescribable.


It wouldn’t be Christianity without some gay scapegoating, and there is a long history of cinematic attacks on gays and lesbians. The most famous anti-gay scare film is 1961’s Boys Beware, which has achieved cult status with its depiction of predatory pedophiles (in this film they’re called “homosexuals”). I prefer the little seen 1973 color remake Boys Aware. The fashions are more entertaining.

The “ex-gays” were represented with The Departure Of Roger Scott. Roger has experienced a spiritual awakening, which has made him realize that his sexuality is sinful (it also apparently forces him to deliver his lines in an increasingly annoying monotone). His partner Mark tries to talk him out of it, and it actually looks as though this propaganda piece may not be as awful as we expected, especially when a gay-supportive minister arrives and offers some wise advice. But hold on … things take a turn for the eye-rolling when a hot young minister takes charge and convinces Roger that God loves him, but not his gay ways. Roger leaves for his new gay-free life, and Mark is left a broken shell of a man. But at least he has his scotch-on-the-rocks.

Now let’s take a tour of the decadence that’s destroying the world! In We Weep For You America, Dean Jones (yes, Dean Jones) lists all of the sins that are making God angry, including slapstick public drunkenness, suburban porn parties?, and of course, THE GAYS!

Moving ahead to this decade, the anti-gay Christian forces have realized they need a more specific target than just “The Gays,” and they found it with marriage-equality. Under the guise of “protecting traditional marriage,” they’ve been able to spread their bigotry and fear, sometimes with unintentionally comical results. Here’s a bit about the annual Day Of Silence. This is another “is it real or parody” entry, and once again, it’s all too real.

As marriage-equality was working its way through the court system and various election cycles, the anti-gay scare ads became even more outrageous and unbelievable. The most infamous was the NOM “Gathering Storm” ad, which is still Comedy Gold five years later. Ahh, memories.

There were many disgusting and offensive scare ads during this time, but here’s one of the most vile … and ludicrous. And it’s not just offensive to gay dads, but to … all dads. Apparently, if his child is injured, a father will not come to his aid, but stand over him … menacingly? WTF?


Of course, gays aren’t the only scourge destroying the world and making Baby Jesus weep. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Possibly my favorite CSF is 1982’s Rock: It’s Your Decision. Teenager Jeff has a dilemma. He loves rock music, but he also loves God. How can he reconcile the two? Well, he can’t, and as the story progresses, Jeff becomes more and more unhinged about the evil of rock (it doesn’t help that Jeff has a shrew of a mother), and eventually he’s at the pulpit ranting about … the music controlling people … “admitted homosexuals” .. The Captain & Tenille. It’s glorious. But the real reason why this has so much resonance with me? It prominently features a CAMELOT record store.

Rock music was only partially to blame for the satanic influence of the 80’s, though. As you can see in these two clips, impressionable minds were being warped on a daily basis … through He Man and She-Ra. I dare to you to get through this without cringing uncontrollably.

In Face In The Mirror, teen Danny holds his prayer group hostage while he reads all of them, especially bitchy blond Darren, who takes the first opportunity to flee the room. Like all shy boys who wrote poetry in the 80’s, Danny is destined to die an agonizing death.


Finally, here’s a scene from Moment Of Truth, featuring two … alien angels?, who are tasked to look after a total f*ck-up. Who knew heaven had its own Barbizon Hair School?

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.