Sunday, October 23, 2016


Demonic dolls, malevolent mirrors, cursed cars; these things are a dime a dozen in horror movies. You can watch them pretty much whenever you want. But if you’re like me, sometimes you have a hankering for  something just a wee bit different than your everyday dastardly doohickey. Well, not to worry, The B-Movie Catechism has got you covered. Here are seven of the weirdest evil objects in movies for your viewing pleasure. Well, at least for your viewing anyway.

Amityville Dollhouse Republic Vhs Front

The Evil Dollhouse from Amityville Dollhouse (1996)

We’ll start with a no-brainer. I mean, if you’re going to buy your kid a toy that looks exactly like the most famous haunted house in the country, you’re just asking for trouble, right? Parents, let this be a lesson. Even when your kids relentlessly beg for something, it’s okay to say no sometimes.

Twinky, The

The Evil Television from The Twonky (1953)

You might also want to monitor how much time your kids spend in front of the television. Just how much TV is bad for you is debatable, but I’m pretty sure if your boob tube has grown legs, is walking around, and has taken complete control of your life, it’s time to pull the plug.

Mangler, The

The Evil Laundry Press from The Mangler (1995)

Speaking of moving machinery, the next time Stephen King complains about the quality of anything, just remember he’s the one who wrote the short story The Mangler is based on. The man’s books creeped me out a lot back in the day, but even then, this wicked wringer just didn’t do the trick.

Lift, The (2)

The Evil Elevator from The Lift (1983)

One of the best taglines ever. You would think this would be as silly an idea as The Mangler, but this obscure little Dutch horror has developed quite a cult following over the years. There’s not an actual psychological term for the fear of elevators, but whoever out there has it should probably avoid this one.

Death Bed

The Evil Bed from Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

And just like that, we’re right back to the ridiculous. Here’s an idea. If you run across a bed that has eaten a number of people, don’t lie down in it. How hard can it be? This bed can’t even move around like The Twonky or The Mangler. Just walk away.

Refrigerator, The

The Evil Refrigerator from The Refrigerator (1991)

Now this is a little easier to understand. At least in this scenario there’s no other way to get to your pizza rolls than to open up the fridge and stick your hand into it. Still, after the first few times the awful appliance gobbles someone up, you would think they might consider the possibility of switching to canned foods. Oh well, what do you expect in a movie about a killer refrigerator. It can’t get any sillier than that.


The Evil Tire from Rubber (2010)

Suckers! It can always get sillier. This is the touching tale of a tire that develops Scanner like powers and leaves a trail of exploded heads across the desert while pursuing the girl of its dreams. It’s never explained, it just is. Much like the movie Rubber itself.

If these films are any indication, just about anything can turn evil. In real life, the Church doesn’t actually have a lot of official statements on the subject beyond a sentence in the Catechism which notes, “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object [emphasis mine] be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism.” So at the very least there appears to be some official recognition that an object can become the focus of outside evil forces just as a person can.

Now, that doesn’t mean your toaster is someday going to gain awareness and bite your hand off. It just means that, for whatever reason, the demonic can become fixated on a physical object. Really, such an idea should be no big shock if you accept the notion that there’s a spiritual dimension to reality, which as a Christian you should. So if you start getting bad vibes from some knickknack sitting around your house, play it safe and toss it, not because you’re worried it may come to life and eat the kids, but simply because on the off chance there is something malevolent lingering around the thingy, you don’t want it to start taking notice of you.

P.S. It is not nice to pretend you sense evil in one of your spouse’s ugly keepsakes just to force them to get rid of it.

Friday, October 07, 2016



S01E16 – The Hitch Hiker

“A young woman driving cross-country keeps seeing the same hitchhiker on the roadside and, unaware she has bigger worries, fears he wants to kill her.”

In a twist worthy of the series, while the Twilight Zone generally stuck to science fiction and fantasy, some of its more memorable episodes were actually the ones that cranked up the creep factor. Take The Hitch Hiker for example, which consistently ranks among the top ten episodes of all time in just about every poll you can pull up. Adapted from a radio play (the only episode to bear that distinction) originally starring Orson Wells, The Hitch Hiker is a terror tale perfectly suited for the Halloween season.

It seems almost a modern miracle in this age of CGI, but director Alvin Ganzer manages to squeeze every ounce of tension possible out of nothing more than a few well placed cameras. The titular hitch hiker, played mostly silent by dependable character actor Leonard Strong, is always sliding into frame, showing up over Nan’s shoulder or in the reflection of the car’s mirrors. He never makes a menacing move or utters a threatening word, but the fact that you never quite know where he is going to appear is enough to keep things on edge.

Ganzer’s clever camera placement almost led to disaster though, at least according to Marc Scott Ziree’s Twilight Zone Companion. For the scene in which Nan’s car stalls on the railroad tracks, the budget didn’t allow for the show to actually rent a train. Instead, they simply set up the shot and waited for one to come along, not realizing just how fast the local locomotives passed through this particular crossing. Go back and rewatch the episode and decide for yourself whether it looks like the car barely makes it off the tracks or not before the train comes barreling through. Ah well, nobody was hurt, and the scene definitely adds to the growing sense of peril for poor Nan as the episode progresses.


Most of what I could say about The Hitch Hiker’s twist ending I have already discussed in my review of Carnival of Souls, a movie I adore, but one which blatantly rips off this episode for everything it can. One big difference in the stories denouements, however, is the way in which the two women confront their final fates. In Carnival of Souls, Mary goes down kicking and screaming, whereas in The Hitch Hiker, once Nan realizes what is happening, their is almost a sense of relief on her face. Nan is ready for death, while Mary is not.

Perhaps this is because in Carnival of Souls, Mary is shown to be something of a wild child at the beginning of the film, getting plastered with her girlfriends and engaging in dangerous drag races. Nan, on the other hand, is just a hard worker enjoying a well deserved vacation before her tire blows out. At the risk of over-simplifying, the narratives give us enough clues to suggest Nan is a good girl, while Mary, if not necessarily bad, is at least living in some grey areas. This is important because, as the old Catholic Encyclopedia notes, “spiritual writers are as one in declaring that ordinarily the only adequate preparation for death is a righteous life.”

Nobody in their right mind is in any rush to die, but a Christian with a clear conscience doesn’t shy away from the experience when they know the time is nigh. Heck, we even have a prayer ready for the occasion…

O Lord, my God, from this moment on I accept with a good will, as something coming from your hand, whatever kind of death you want to send me, with all its anguish, pain, and sorrow.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I sleep and take my rest in peace with you.

It’s a good prayer. May it be a long time before you ever have to use it.

Twilight Tidbits: When Nan goes to the gas station, the pumps are branded with the name of the Magnum Oil Company. This is the same name which appears on the gas truck in the biplane attack sequence in North by Northwest. While probably a coincidence (Magnum was a real company after all), one can’t help but wonder if this was a subtle dig at Alfred Hitchcock, who had been trying to buy the rights to The Hitch Hiker for his own show before Serling snapped them up.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Pulp Catholicism 044

As today is the feast of St. Francis, it seemed like a good time to dust off this old cartoon about the patron Saint of all animals and spruce it up with a bit of color. As for the subject matter, well, if St. Columba could allegedly chase off Nessie, then certainly St. Francis could preach to her. And no doubt he would be happy to do so. Writing about St. Francis, G. K. Chesterton would say…

“He never forgot to take pleasure in a bird as it flashed past him, or a drop of water as it fell from his finger: he was, perhaps, the happiest of the sons of men.”

And how did Francis maintain such a happy disposition? In a later work, Chesterton would speculate…

“In a…cynical sense…men have said ‘Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.’ It was in a wholly happy and enthusiastic sense that St. Francis said, ‘Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall enjoy everything.’ It was by this deliberate idea of starting from zero…that he did come to enjoy even earthly things as few people have enjoyed them.”

Now, one Saint’s key to enjoying life might not sound like that big of a deal, but remember that the Catechism tells us how the desire for happiness is not only a natural one, but is of divine origin. “God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.” So if nothing else is working, don’t be afraid to try out a start-from-zero approach. It’s St. Francis approved.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Now Showing Marquee 4

My futile efforts to catch up at my day job continue so, while the cruel taskmaster of circumstance keeps my nose firmly pressed to the grindstone, why not take some time to check out what some other folks are saying about religion and movies around the blogosphere.

I did manage to catch a couple of movies. For SCENES I revisited the excellent hillbilly horror parody, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, while for Aleteia I braved the newest installment in the Blair Witch series. It’s okay taken by itself, but don’t expect another classic.

While you’re over at Aleteia, you might want to take a gander at 5 Great things to watch on Netflix now (from a Catholic guy) which Tommy Tighe has dug up. Sister Rose at the Movies seems to like Netflix too, at least those shows and movies on it that shine the light of grace in human stories. Both Tommy and Sr. Rose seem to be particularly fond of Netflix’s original series Daredevil, a show which I may have a few things to say about as well.

Not everything is on Netflix, though. Over at Suburban Banshee, M. S. Obrien has a post up touting what he considers one of the best SF movie he’s seen all year, Space Trucker Bruce. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you don’t mind watching movies made by amateurs with a $10,000 budget and filmed in the director’s basement. I caught it on Amazon Prime, but the filmmaker has also made the entire movie freely available on YouTube.

Less recommended is the recent animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. If you haven’t already heard about it, five minutes on the Internet should be enough to let you know everything it does wrong. However, despite its faults, Speculative Faith’s Mark Carver managed to make it through the whole thing and he came away with some interesting thoughts on just what he thinks the Joker represents.

Speaking of divisive things, SuperversiveSF’s Anthony M. takes a brief look at conflicting excerpts from the works of Nick Cole vs. Naomi Kritzer regarding artificial intelligences and God and chooses a side.

And that should be plenty of reading to keep you busy while I keep slogging away at work. Honestly, I’m beat. I could really go for a nap right about now.