Nothing sends holy water down the leg of a practicing Catholic better than a good old-fashioned, “Christmas tree burning”. And by that I mean any story that goes into the mythology of Christian faith and scrambles its foundations effectively enough to briefly lobotomize an audience who may have thought they had all their dieties safely in a row. The Exorcist, the most frightening film ever made in my opinion, did a masterful job of not criticizing Christian faith so as to alienate what is likely to be a predominately God-fearing , ticket-buying, movie-going public, but in many ways reinforcing the mythology of Christianity by making the existence of evil the most convincing it had ever been in American film history. Unlike today, where a “demon” has to breathe CGI fire and scale walls to shock the senses and shake one out of their disbelief, William Friedken’s Pizuzu, via the innocent intermediary of Linda Blair’s teenage Regan, kept our defenses off balance simply by breathing. Her performance still ranks top in my book for the way we, as an audience, were regarded with pure contempt for “our” beliefs. I’ve had evil angrily scream at me in movies and want to eat me for various reasons, but never have I felt such depth of hatred. It was excellent, and remains so.
I’ve had to shelve a story/screenplay I was working on recently, perhaps permanently. Come to find, the basic premise of the idea was already being used in a recently released straight to DVD horror film. However, the tone and treatment of the concept was predictably straight, with its major characters and elements predictably borrowed. It bored me as most horror films of the last five years do. But it was the evil spawn of a new production company that I had been courting, so I sort of felt like I’d missed out. My take on the concept was in a more darkly comedic vein and loaded with personality and what I considered affordable invention. I even had a tie in with the classic Universal monster catalog. It was going to be downright offensive, brilliantly funny, and designed to shake up the dry, straight-shooting fare we’ve now come to expect. Bah. I may write it anyway. For all its technical nous and occasional flair, I think they seriously cocked up a chance to do something pretty original.
Anyhow, the death of that journey almost immediately gave birth to a new one of which I alluded to in the previous entry. Only, it’s now taken on more flesh and careens more closely to religious mythology without waving any flags. I’ve got the same budget in mind, and the same approach towards irreverence – both to the holiday sentiment and an American film classic – that fueled my temporarily abandoned effort. Think of it as It’s A Wonderful Life meets Jacob’s Ladder. Yeah, I like that. And, gods-willing, if I manage to send it out before I see it somewhere else, so will you.
Have a great holiday whatever you happen to believe, and in whatever manner you choose to enjoy it.
I believe I’ll unleash holy hell.