So What’s So Horribly Horrible About …THAT…

Guest Blogger: H.G. Ferguson

It’s October, that time again. Again, Halloween looms. It is also a time when TV is stuffed with various and sundry offerings of such a nature that many, if not most, Christians shun them as they would a Black Mass. I refer of course to the horror film (and TV), which is a subset of what I like to call …THAT… — which is again the attitude many, if not most, Christians actually call or think of the horror genre. …THAT… We’re Christians. We don’t do …THAT… because …THAT… is by definition of the Devil. Everybody knows …THAT…

From where did this notion originate? It’s devilishly hard to track down. It may be a mutant spawned off the hardline fundamentalist all-movies-are-evil-and-we-don’t-as-Christians-watch-movies mindset. It was also fueled by two other things: a video about getting monsters out of your house by a very influential and extremely narrow-minded Christian performer, and the actual content of many Hollywood horror films themselves. After all, all one has to do is LOOK at a movie about …THAT… and it’s clear, yep, it’s Satanic. It also asserted that since horror involves violence and some of it quite graphic, Christians should not watch anything to do with it.

Photo by Michel Meynsbrughen • freeimages.com

Photo by Michel Meynsbrughen • freeimages.com

Really? Some of these same Christians have no problem with heroic R-rated action films with at least as much graphic violence as some horror films. That smacks of hypocrisy to me. If the objection applies to …THAT… it ought to apply everywhere.

As far as the getting the monsters out of your house video goes, it’s almost laughable (and it is humorous in spots) that the video makes no distinction — no distinction, mind you — between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Alligator People. In the performer’s mind and the minds of those broadcasting it, any and all horror films are by definition of the devil, period. It doesn’t matter if they are a gristmill of graphic human suffering or a bad B-movie. But putting those two movies together causes me to ask, “Really? Are you serious?” Apparently they are. Their argument runs that since these films promote fear and fear is of the devil, therefore they all are of the devil, period. Let’s examine this.

We are commanded by God to test the spirits and see whether they be of God (I Jn. 4:1). I submit to you that this wholesale damnation of an entire genre is precisely because of fear, the very thing they claim to want to avoid. It is also born out of a deep-seated prejudice. …THAT… does not appeal to me, therefore it should appeal to no one. And this is the CHRISTIAN position.

Is it?

We are commanded to test. But what happens in this attitude is nowhere near a test. In fact, it is a refusal to test, to discern, to actually LOOK AT THE CONTENT and come to a biblical conclusion. This attitude actually abrogates God’s clear commandment. We don’t have to test, because it’s …THAT…

In addition, this hatred of the horror film is also caused by the content of some horror films themselves, particularly the latest brand. Some of these films ought never to be viewed by the Christian or by anyone else. But just because SOME of these films actually do glorify Satan and promote the wrong kind of fear does not mean they ALL do. To say ALL horror films are wrong is like saying all romance movies are wrong. Is that the case? Is that TRUE? Of course not. Sabrina (1995) is not Fifty Shades of Gray. I think I made my point there.

Discernment is required

Some horror films do indeed promote the right kind of fear — the fear of God — and have a unique spiritual dimension that is compatible with the Bible. Those should not be shunned. Horror in and of itself should not be shunned. It should be discerned. It is hard cold fact that the horror story’s mother and father are Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Dracula), both of whom wrote out of a biblical worldview. Modern attempts by critics to discredit Stoker’s research in particular are significant. They don’t want to discredit Stoker so much as they want to discredit his worldview. They want the vampire amputated from the Judeo-Christian outlook Stoker held. They want Stoker’s vampire, but they do not want Stoker’s God. This is why so many — but not all — most recent treatments of vampires throw out the Cross as a means of dealing with them. The critics understand Dracula was written from a Christian worldview. Why don’t evangelicals? Because Dracula is …THAT… and we need to get the monsters out of our house and we don’t do …THAT… because we’re Christians.

I call the evangelical church to biblical discernment. You want some titles? Curse of the Demon (1957) is not Hellraiser. Darkness Falls (2003) is not Ouija. Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and Dog Soldiers (2002) are notThe Howling and The Howling II. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) is not The Devil’s Rejects. The Stand (1994) is not the Saw franchise. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Brides of Dracula (1960), Forever Knight (TV Show 1992-1996) are not Hostel, Hostel II and Hemlock Grove. Test the spirits, actually DO what God commands and you will see I am right. All of these, and I could cite more, promote either biblical worldviews or values Christians hold dear. ALL OF THEM.

Finally, if you are still unconvinced …THAT… can be a legitimate vehicle to glorify God, look no further than The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 15, where Hershel reads Psalm 91 to comfort his two daughters. Here is a link, audio only:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2L170u2fpk Millions of people watch this show. And YHWH, who does as He pleases (Ps. 115:3), was pleased to have every single one of those millions of people hear His Word through this medium. If God is so pleased to use …THAT… to proclaim His Truth, I for one am NOT going to say to Him,”Uh, Lord, You shouldn’t do …THAT…because You’re God and You don’t do …THAT…”

When He is so pleased, He most certainly does. And so should we.

author HG Ferguson

HG Ferguson

Author, theologian, graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and Oral Roberts University, H.G. Ferguson brings biblical truth and articulate power to bear upon matters of both spiritual arcana and his work as a writer of horror fiction from a thoroughly scriptural perspective. Always outside the box of convention, but never outside the lines of what God has told us in His Holy Word.


6 comments on “So What’s So Horribly Horrible About …THAT…

  1. Some of us really don’t like horror. We get annoyed by people whose main aim in life is to give us bad nightmares for an entire night, make us jumpy while imagining we’re hearing monsters break into our homes, etc.

    We have enough bad stuff happening in our own lives not to want to go there. I’ll admit to having seen an episode of something horror here or there, but nothing that particularly tempted me to return. The one exception is Grimm. I’m not entirely such why I can stand to watch that show… Perhaps it’s because of a clear delineation between good and evil; elements of redemption and self-sacrifice, and the various wesen who run against type while rising above their base natures?

    I don’t particularly enjoy dystopian movies or dramas either. I turned on the television last night, and The Hunger Games was on. My daughter, 14, was sitting by me and asked if I was interested in watching it. We considered it for about five minutes and mutually agreed we would be happier with HGTV (there was NOTHING else on that we were willing to watch).

    HGTV is no more Christian–in fact they’re horribly hedonistic and sometimes they appall us to where we turn them off too, but people do at least appear to be having fun on those shows, hard work is celebrated, and when I watch, I find inspiration and ideas for designs I can create that might sell and help me make a living, so it isn’t a total waste of my time to watch it.

  2. Thank you for your kind response. I’m happy you appreciate GRIMM, as do I. That being said, I agree that Horror is not for everyone. My issue is with those who insist it should be for NO one and present that sentiment as THE Christian Position. I could say the same thing about the obsession with American sports in your Typical American Male. It’s not for ME, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for ANYONE to like it. Yes, some of us do not like Horror. Some others of us do not care for Left Behind or for Amish romances. To each his own (Romans 14). I’m not insisting everyone should like Horror. I am insisting, and will continue to insist, that Horror rightfully belongs in the speculative fiction genres and subgenres Christians adore and promote.

  3. Harold, I thought your blog was insightful and well-thought-out. I am tired of the looks I get when I say these two words in the same sentence: “Christian” and “vampire”. Most people protest that a vampire is the spawn of the devil, and therefore could never be Christian. I like the way you treated vampirism in your first book, “New Blood,” as a disease which this character desperately wanted to overcome, as she would any disease. Keep up the good work, and looking forward to the next book!

    • Thank you for your kindness and support. “Looks” are better than the icy disdain of ignoring THAT’s right to exist as a vehicle for honoring God. The Christians of Stoker and Shelley’s day had no such qualms. God bless you! Many thanks!

  4. […] Christian writers, to the surprise of some, haven’t shied away from the field. Dante’s Inferno is quite hellish. There’s some heavy evil beings in The Lord of the Rings. Authors like Frank Peretti were writing supernatural fiction long before anyone came up with a name for it. Most shocking to all is that horror classics Frankenstein and Dracula were written with biblical worldviews. Gasp! Our perceptions of these two quintessential horror books have been colored by unfaithful adaptations reinterpreted through modern eyes. H. G. Ferguson writes: […]

  5. Thank you very much! The only caveat I would add, with gentle respect, is that the term “supernatural fiction” is not necessarily THAT. The only kind of THAT the contemporary Christian specfic community deems acceptable is stories containing acceptable accoutrements such as dystopian future, spiritual warfare, angels/demons/Nephilim and the like, all of which to be blunt have been done to death (no pun intended). Monsters, particularly vampires, are anathema to this community, though the Scriptures are full of monsters. The Hebrew vampiress Lilith is mentioned BY NAME for example in Isaiah 34:14, so all of you who claim there are no vampires in the Bible, read it. The Hebrew says Lilith. That’s just one monster. Again, I could cite a whole devil’s brew of the infernal things. This irrational and emotion-driven hatred of horror as a genre needs to end. If you’re still unconvinced, read the Gospel’s own horror tale, Mark 5:1-20. For me, that settles it. Horror is not a satanic, evil genre — not when Jesus Christ Himself is its Hero!

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