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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Catholicism's contribution to horror

Whether most people who dress up as ghosts, goblins, or little devils realize it, whether those who like to attend scary movies recognize it, the entire horror genre owes a debt to Catholicism.

The underlying horror of most monsters is that they are a mockery of what Catholicism teaches about life in Christ. Either the monsters are undead parodies of the resurrected Christ representing true life - i.e. mummies, ghosts, zombies etc.; or they are spiritual parodies of the goodness of Christ - demons, devils, etc.

This idea is reflected very clearly in the movies about Frankenstien and about Vampires. In the former, the scientist attempts to play God by bringing the dead body back to life. He cannot create life ex nihilo as God does and he finds that resuscitating dead cells does not true life make. Jesus rises in a glorified body, Frankenstein in a monstrous body. Jesus can pass through walls in his new body, Frankenstein must knock them down. In the latter, the monster lives only by taking the life of others. Christ offers his blood to give us life, the vampire takes our blood so that he might survive.

I believe that it is the truths of the Christian faith, even for those who don't believe which make these movies scary - because they conflict with what we know, deep down, to be true.

Another thing I have noticed is that the religious presence within horror movies is predominantly Catholic in orientation - scenes take place within a Catholic Church, a Catholic priest plays an important character either in helping the hero or a representing the villan. This especially is the case if the movie involves the presence of supernatural evil. When facing the devil's minions - who are you going to call - the priest, the rabbi or the minister?

Many horror movies also require the use of holy relics and symbols - another debt owed to Catholicism: to fight the devil or a vampire you need a crucifix or holy water. In order to conquer the great ancient evil, you need some rare artifact that is always located in some isolated medival monastery, incantations designed to thwart the end of the world are always written in Latin.

So, the next time you watch "Omen" or "Dracula" give thanks to the Catholic faith for helping you get scared out of your wits!


Blogger Carlos said...

Hey, don't forget the Calvinist influence on Frankenstein: it's set in Geneva, the monster quotes Milton again and again, and the creature's being rejected by his creator bears some resemblance to the doctrine of reprobation.

4:50 PM  

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