Tag Archives: Satan

CAPSULE: C ME DANCE (2009)

DIRECTED BY: Greg Robbins

FEATURING: Christina DeMarco, Greg Robbins

PLOT: A teenage girl who dreams of dancing the ballet is stricken with leukemia, and with that diagnosis discovers she also has gained telepathy and the power to convert the secular to evangelical Christianity.

Still from C Me Dance (2009)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  “You’re right… this is very weird,” writer/director/star Greg Robbins tells his cancer-ridden daughter when a gang of juvenile delinquents spontaneously profess their instantaneous love of Christ after she telepathically shows them a clip of Jesus being nailed to the cross.  But what little weirdness C Me Dance shows comes from Robbins ignoring the demands of narrative craft and instead cramming his film full of simplistic dogma and sermons.  The horrid acting, risible dialogue, laughably ineffectual Prince of Darkness and absurdly obvious theological ploys may make C Me Dance worth a few snickers, but don’t be fooled. This is a dangerous movie—a film that’s capable of destroying one’s faith.

COMMENTS: “What was the Devil’s first act of deception? Convincing humanity that he didn’t exist,” says a pastor in C Me Dance, a quote that sounds hauntingly familiar.  (Later, the movie will plagiarize The Exorcist, too: doesn’t the Bible say anything about not coveting thy neighbor’s screenplay?)  According to C Me Dance, the Devil’s second and third acts of deception were wearing various shades of colored contact lenses and hiring an extra to stand behind him with a leaf blower so his trenchcoat billows menacingly.  The movie’s shameless sermonizing and simplistic worldview results in an awkwardly didactic plot, which is only made more ridiculous by the insane decision to make a low budget, G-rated Satan the film’s literal antagonist.  The result is something like what a born again cameraman for the old “ABC Afternoon Special” might have made, if the show’s producer had allowed him to direct a single episode with half the usual budget on condition that he stop bugging him about accepting Christ as his personal savior.  The acting wouldn’t cut the mustard on a tween sitcom on the Nickelodeon channel, but the mess is still Continue reading CAPSULE: C ME DANCE (2009)

68. HÄXAN [HÄXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES] (1922)

AKA The Witches; Witchcraft Through the Ages

Must See

“Such were the Middle Ages, when witchcraft and the Devil’s work were sought everywhere. And that is why unusual things were believed to be true.”–Title card in Häxan

DIRECTED BY: Benjamin Christensen

FEATURING: Benjamin Christensen, Astrid Holm, Karen Winther, Maren Pedersen

PLOT: The film’s narrative segments involve the betrayals and accusations of witchcraft that destroy a small town in medieval Europe, and the monks who instigate them. Most of the film, however, consists of Christensen’s free-form discourse about the history of witchcraft and demonology.
Still from Häxan (1922)

BACKGROUND:

  • Christensen was an actor-turned-director with two feature films (The Mysterious X and Blind Justice) under his belt when he made Häxan.  He later moved to Hollywood, but he never recaptured Häxan‘s magic, and most of his subsequent films have been lost.
  • The film spent two years in pre-production as Christensen researched scholarly sources on medieval witchcraft, including the Malleus Maleficarum, a German text originally intended for use by Inquisitors.  Many of these are cited in the finished film, and a complete bibliography was handed out at the film’s premiere.
  • In the 1920s and afterward Häxan was frequently banned due to nudity, torture, and in some countries for its unflattering view of the Catholic Church.
  • Some of the footage from this film may have been reused for the delirium sequences in 1934′s Maniac (along with images from the partially lost silent Maciste in Hell).
  • In 1968, a truncated 76-minute version of Häxan was re-released for the midnight movie circuit under the title Witchcraft Through the Ages by film distributor Anthony Balch, with narration by William S. Burroughs and a jazz score.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The scenes set at the Witches’ Sabbaths are overflowing with bizarre imagery.  The most unforgettable example is probably when the witches queue up and, one after another, kiss Satan’s buttocks in a show of deference.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: In making Häxan, Christensen dismissed the then-nascent rules of classical filmmaking and turned it into a sprawling, tangent-filled lecture based on real historical texts.  This already makes the film unique, but the use of ahead-of-its-time costuming and special effects in order to film a demonic panorama right out of Bosch or Bruegel, and Christensen’s irreverent sense of humor as he does it, is what makes it truly weird.

Scene from Häxan (1922)

COMMENTS: In 1922, even before the documentary had been firmly established as a Continue reading 68. HÄXAN [HÄXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES] (1922)

CAPSULE: SATAN HATES YOU (2009)

DIRECTED BYJames Felix McKenney

FEATURING: Don Wood, Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Debbie Rochon, Michael Berryman, Larry Fessenden

PLOT: In this re-imagining of the “Christ-sploitation” films shown in churches and

Still from Satan Hates You (2009)

probably a few Southern gynecologists’ offices of the 60s and 70s, we follow a young man and woman who make all the wrong choices in a haze of drugs, alcohol, and rock music while unknowingly under the influence of two demonic imps.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Satan Hates You, while initially very jarring in its lack of self-explanation, is a satisfying experience in terms of its Troma-esque shock horror and its acute satirical edge.  But its freaky imagery leans too often on a bland naturalistic style that mars its individuality and chokes the weirdness out of the movie.

COMMENTS: Satan Hates You is a very hard film to place.  Being a satire, a dark comedy, and a horror film is no ordinary pedigree, and Satan Hates You maniacally shifts from one of these genres to the next every few minutes.  It is a wicked send-up of those fear-mongering Christian PSA films that pop into existence every generation about the dangers of doing ungodly things like having abortions and doing drugs.  But it honestly doesn’t hit you that way when you watch it if you don’t do your research.  The first time watching it, I felt this to just be a dark, meandering horror-comedy about two idiots who make a lot of bad choices.  Director James Felix McKenney doesn’t really go out of his way to make this idea pop out at the audience with staples of the “Christ-sploitation” genre, like cheesy acting, an oversimplification of right and wrong, and loads of self-righteous condemnation.  We are instead tossed quite objectively into these people’s lives, full of sex, murder, and self-sabotage, and don’t get dropped many hints that we’re supposed to be in on a joke.

Once one understands the idea, everything falls into place a little more, and it does Continue reading CAPSULE: SATAN HATES YOU (2009)