Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shock Xpress - Mark IV Prophetic Film Series

Trailers from four Christian fundamentalist films on the Apocalypse, covered in an article by Greg Goodsell in the first Shock Xpress book:

"The views expressed in these moving religious tracts are largely at odds with the readers of free-thinking publications such as this. The secular doomsday drama lures bodies into the cinema with the promised tittillations of 'what will the end of the world look like?' The Mark IV series, available at Christian bookstores in the USA, offers an even more horrific vision. "What does a midwestern American acolyte of Jerry Falwell or Jim and Tammy Baker think the end of the world, or in fact the world, looks like?' You really don't want to know..."

A Thief In The Night (Donald W.Thompson, 1973)

A Distant Thunder (Donald W.Thompson, 1978)

Image Of The Beast
(Donald W.Thompson, 1980)

The Prodigal Planet (Donald W.Thompson, 1983)


wwinfrey said...

When I was a kid, my parents attended a non-denominational, fundamentalist, charismatic Christian church 60 miles west of St. Louis. This church, called "Faith Believers", had everything you'd expect: speaking in tongues (with translation), faith healing (vis a vis the laying on of hands), "satanic" rock LP cover & astrology book burnings, dancing in the aisles, the gospel of "prosperity", anti-abortion, "spare the rod, spoil the child", christian "rock", etc. etc.

At any rate, I saw these movies between 81 and 83 - they showed them at our church, and they scared me much more than the subsequent viewing of any horror/gore flick ever did. I didn't understand much, but I did understand that if I got "left behind", I'd either have to take the mark or face the guillotine.

What was great was how, by the final movie, it had turned into pseudo sci-fi with futuristic armored vehicles, plagues, explosions, computers, etc. Ironically enough, as a kid, whenever the movie would stray into one of it's frequent forays into bible discussion, "witnessing" etc. I would grow impatient. I couldn't relate to the parts of the movie that were supposed to sooth me. Perhaps the movies were an inefficient vehicle in this regard.

What's interesting is how familiar everything in the movie seemed. Faith Believers wasn't necessarily as extreme as say, the Branch Davidians or the People's Temple, but the feeling of being besieged by a Satanic, secular society ready to kill us for our beliefs was prevalent among the members of the church, my family included. I can't stress enough how much of an impact these movies had on my church (and the American Chrisitianist movement it was part and parcel of). I was haunted by the thought that I would be "left behind" for years after seeing these films, even though I considered myself an atheist and anti-Christian from about 84 on (thank you, Slayer & Black Flag). It took a couple LSD trips to get that fear out of my system.

Anyway, thanks for posting these clips...I had forgotten all about these movies, and they are absolutely essential viewing for anyone interested in the general content of this blog.

valter said...

Thank you for sharing these memories with me - they are at once very personal and extremely interesting.

As a continental European, the content of these films is as exotic to me as - for example - the tenets of the Zar possession cult of Ethiopia. My father was a church elder in the Dutch Reformed Church, but faith in my parental home seems to have been the essence of liberalism compared to the fundamentalism you were exposed to as a child. But the again, the church I went to as a child was in the heart of the Amsterdam red light district.

Here is a link the church's website, and here is it's Wikipedia page.

Liberal as it may have been, it was also very Calvinistic so I was raised with a very strong sense of duty and a serious work ethic. I feel I haven't shaken this aspect of my upbringing off today, and - as this blog testifies - I am pretty ambivalent about it.

Faith is a strange thing and can take a powerful hold on a person's mind.