What I’m Thankful For: Bad Religious Movies

If there is one thing I love — and I mean love — with a blazing passion that burns like wildfire in my soul, it’s bad movies.  And not just any bad movies.  Bad religious movies.  I love them so much I cry.  I watch them whenever possible.  They fill a special hole in my heart that nothing else can touch.

There are literally dozens to choose from (and believe me, I’ve seen them all), but here are my top 5.

1. Saturday’s Warrior

Oh, Saturday’s Warrior, how do I love thee?  Everything about this film (yes, I just called it a film) delights me.  The music.  The costumes.  The cinematography.   The dialogue.  The choreography.  And this (“Zero Population”) is my favorite number.  (Please note that whoever posted this video on YouTube calls it “Anti-Choice Propaganda” and refers to Saturday’s Warrior in general as an “LDS recruitment film.”  Obviously I don’t share those perspectives and I tried to find the clip from someone who was friendlier, but I couldn’t.  Still, let’s be honest: the fact that they called it a recruitment film is spectacularly awesome.)

2. Judgment

This evangelical Christian movie (featuring Mr. T!!!!) takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, one in which the Rapture has occurred and the Antichrist has overtaken the global government by installing the New World Order. Let me assure you, the movie is every bit as terrible as the trailer suggests.  And THANK GOODNESS it is.

3. The Book of Mormon Movie

This is, quite possibly, THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE.  Ever.  It is so bad I rewound it dozens of times to watch and re-watch certain parts over and over and over again.  Among the most delightfully terrible scenes: when Lehi marries his kids to the sons and daughters of Ishmael in a beautiful (read: creepy) group wedding and then sends them all off to get laid; when Nephi says to Zoram, “You have your free agency: come with us or die!”;  the fact that the fruit of the Tree of Life is made of Styrofoam (in fairness, I suppose that Eternal Life is, by definition, non-decomposable); when Sam goes back to try to make amends with Laman and Lemuel but learns they have already become savages, because he discovers them dancing and whooping half-naked in front of a fire.

4. Left Behind

I love all the Left Behind movies for three very good reasons: Kirk Cameron, Kirk Cameron, and Kirk Cameron.  Also because they have scenes where they send contraband Bibles to Utah and say things like: “Jeff just got saved.”  I hope and pray they make the rest of the series because three is, quite simply, not enough.

5. Rescued

Candelight Media Group’s entire canon is worth exploring, what with instant classics such as the modern-day retelling of Alma the Younger in Turn Around and the heartwarming Wasatch Front adaptation of everyone’s favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast: a Latter-Day Tale.  But best of all is Rescued.  Megan is a wavering Mormon woman stranded on a deserted island with two co-workers: the hot bad boy and the nerdy, faithful one.  Whom will she choose?  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but mostly you’ll laugh, as she makes her own impossible Sophie’s Choice.

What about you?  Any favorite bad movies I should add to the list?  Do you delight in terrible movies like me, or are you thankful for some other guilty pleasure?

This post is one in a series.  Get the rest of the posts here.

About Katie L

A doubter by nature, a believer by grace.

Posted on November 4, 2010, in Good for Laughs, Gratitude and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Saturday’s Warrior is one of the greatest movies ever made. I am in total agreement with you. And now I want to see all these other movies too. Maybe next time we’re together!!

  2. okay. i could read your funny blogs all day long and never tire of them. you should write a book. a funny one.

  3. @Katy, I like that comment for so many reasons! 1)–That you love Saturday’s Warrior. 2)–Because you want to watch the rest of the movies. 3)–Because you want to watch them with ME!

    @Hilary, So what you’re saying is that you get tired of my serious blogs? Thanks a lot. 😉

  4. I’ve seen two of those. You know how some movies are so bad they’re good? I thought The Book of Mormon Movie fit in that category pretty well. I will say, though, that our kids liked it on its own terms (they’re more discerning now), and it did make for some good family discussion. But, yeah, it’s an embarrassment of a film.

    And then there’s Left Behind. It was quite bad too, but not in a funny way, just a boring and lifeless way.

    My favorite example of a so-bad-it’s-good religious film is A Thief in the Night, an evangelical classic from the ’70s. It had the same theme as Left Behind; the Rapture takes away all the believers, and those left behind must somehow cope with what the devil is up to. Basically, the makers of the film wanted to scare the viewers into becoming Christians, and although there’s nothing gory or anything like that, I knew people who actually had nightmares after watching it. One song from the movie, I Wish We’d All Been Ready, became a big hit in evangelical circles, and the theme was the same: You better make yourself right with God, because Jesus is coming back and you don’t want to end up in hell.

    It’s hard to believe, but this film was shown in evangelical churches for at least a decade as an evangelism tool. It’s worth seeing if only as a cultural artifact that shows how evangelical Christianity has changed in the last generation. Unfortunately, the film is not available on DVD.

    A more recent bad evangelical film is Flywheel about a corrupt car dealer who finds Jesus and decides to start being honest. This film is more predictable than any romantic comedy. Just trust Jesus, and you’ll become rich.

    I’m not sure which is worse from a theological point of view — using fear or using greed to get people to follow Christ.

  5. I’ll take back part of what I said. A Thief in the Night is available on DVD; it’s just not available on Netflix.

  6. A Thief in the Night looks SO STINKIN AWESOME. I’ll also have to check out Flywheel.

    I’m not sure which is worse from a theological point of view — using fear or using greed to get people to follow Christ.

    They’re both pretty sad and counterproductive.

  7. Flywheel isn’t nearly as dreadful as the other films. It’s just so predictable and cliche-ridden. Considering the circumstances under which it was made (it was just a local church project not intended for national release), it could have been much worse.

  8. Well, I have to say I have seen the first four of those on the list, and all fit very nicely. I have also seen the Beauty and the beast that was mentioned.
    I own Judgement, but I think the rest of that series needs to be included in the list, just as you included the whole Left Behind Series. I just can’t think of what the other movies are called though. They also start with the rapture happening in the first movie. The fun part is the second and third movie where Satan in using a virtual reality computer headset to heal and possess everyone.

    Another good one is the movie Deceived. In this a government station that is supposed to be searching for Alien life in space picks up a transmission from hell that corrupts everyone who listens to it. The star guy is deaf, and so he is immune.

    There are lots of them out there, and I can’t wait to see the rest of them.

  9. First: I can’t believe I missed this earlier. The best scene of the Book of Mormon movie was Nephi zapping his brothers with lightning out of his hands using some alternate universe Emperor Palpatine skillz.

    Second: If you haven’t seen “Saved!” you are missing out! It stars a teenaged Macaulay Calkin in a wheelchair, for crying out loud!

  10. Alex, LOVE the lightning scene.

    And I’ve been meaning to watched Saved for several years now. Perhaps it’s on Netflix instant streaming…

  11. Love “Saved!” Love it.

    Also, this was the first clip I’ve ever seen of “Saturday’s Warrior.” I am struck dumb with awe.

  12. Oh Whitney. If you’re interested in understanding our generation of mainstream Mormons, rent Saturday’s Warrior from Netflix. You’re so used to Internet Mormons, and we’re a different breed from the rest. This will open your eyes to a whole new universe you never knew existed. 🙂

    You’re like the fourth person I trust who has recommended Saved to me. I just added it to my Netflix queue.

  13. I am pleased to announce that, first thing tomorrow morning, I am picking up my copy of “Judgment” from the library and jumping it to the head of the queue so that Gretch and I can watch it in all of its awesomely awful glory! Can’t wait to return and report!

  14. I am awaiting with bated breath your review of Judgment, Alex. 😉

  15. So I just finished Saved. It was fun. I think I went into it with my expectations a little too high: I’ve had enough people tell me it’s awesome that when it turned out to be a cut or two above most teen movies it was a bit of a letdown. Still, I enjoyed it! Thanks for the recommendation, Whitney and Alex.

  16. Sorry, it took a bit longer to get around to watching Judgment than initially planned.

    My wife and I watched it last night while trying to recover from a sudden bout of illness, possibly brought on by something we ate during Thanksgiving. Wow. The premise was so ridiculously bizarre! Fake marks of Lucifer, a declaration that “God doesn’t rule the earth anymore; the Devil does!” and a legal proceeding scripted by someone who has never a) been near an actual courtroom and/or b) has never even read a John Grisham novel.

    It was awesome in a “Oh good Lord, this is terrible!” kind of way.

  17. I watched Saturday’s Warrior over the weekend for the first time. What a hoot! (I know that’s an old-fashioned phrase, but it kind of fits the film.)

  18. I am delighted that you watched Saturday’s Warrior, Eric. “Hoot” is the perfect word for it. 🙂

  19. Same with you, Alex!!! So glad you got around to Judgment! It SOOO bad/good, isn’t it?

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