Christian Scare Films are amongst the most bizarre, surreal and disturbing entries in the classroom education genre, so say a quick prayer as Something Weird does their best to convert us with these vintage religious shorts.
World Behind the Headlines paints a grim picture of modern life as a crippled Korean War vet wanders around the city with a permanent scowl on his face, as newspaper headlines greet him at every turn: “New H-Bomb Test Planned,” “Two Killed In Teenage Gunfight”! About to snap, he knocks on the door of a church and is invited in by Pastor Clyde Taylor, who happily listens to the vet’s tales of woes – from being wounded in Korea to discovering that his alcoholic wife has been killed in a car accident. “Each Christian home is a quiet battlefield,” the Pastor reminds him, who sends the vet on his way with the knowledge that through God we can all look forward to A Better Tomorrow.
Teenage Romance (1961) immerses us in a world straight out of Leave it to Beaver, as high-school couple Gary and Cindy debate whether it would be right to start dating other people since Gary will soon be attending college in another state. Gary is all for seeing other girls, but Cindy doesn't like the idea, and even breaks their date to the senior prom. It's up to Gary's dorky roommate (who wears insanely tight white shorts and has “a swell time with the group at church”) to drag the love-torn young couple to his Christian youth group where they can sit and share their thoughts with young churchgoers (“Dating is really selfishness,” one girl chides) and together they can decide on “What's the Christian thing to do?”
Let’s Shoot the Devil is an episode of the Canadian TV series Spectrum in which hosts JIM COREY and BILL WALTER debate how healthy it is to watch westerns and “shoot ‘em ups,” before a string of out-of-work actors are dragged onto the screen to re-enact a wild-west scenario as a way of demonstrating just how cowboy movies are an analogy of God's triumph over the Devil (represented by the clichéd villain dressed in black). With God (represented by the cowboy hero) resisting every temptation from booze to money to the sultry good girl gone bad, this proves yet again that the villain always has the most fun, even if he’ll end up paying for it with an eternity in Hell.
The Earth is the Lord’s is not so much a Christian Scare film as it is a look at soil conservation – it was produced by the Farm Equipment Institute – using God as a way to scare us into taking better care of the land: “God has indeed shed his grace on America!”
Likewise, God's Wonders in the Zoo (1954) is a nice color short put together ostensibly to promote Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.
Our sermon comes to an end with The Lost Sheep, a cute little short from 1941, produced by the Scriptures Visualized Institute, and using cut-rate animation to depict the story of the lamb that strayed from his flock. “We've run away from God, just as the lamb has run away from his shepherd,” the narrator intones as we see the lamb having a great time on his own at first, before a shepherd saves him after he falls off a cliff and gets caught in a violent storm. Awwwww….-- John Harrison, The Graveyard Tramp
Year: 1950s - 1960s
Starring: Jim Corey
Co-starring: Bill Walter