Roman Catholicism in Fantastic Film

Essays on Belief, Spectacle, Ritual and Imagery

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About the Book

The intersection of religious practice and theatricality has long been a subject of interest to scholars. This collection of twenty-two critical essays addresses the relationship between Roman Catholicism and films of the fantastic, which includes the genres of fantasy, horror, science fiction and the supernatural. The collection covers a range of North American and European films from Dracula and other vampire movies to Miracle at Fatima, The Exorcist, Danny Boyle’s Millions, The Others, Maurice Pialat’s Sous le Soleil de Satan, the movies of Terry Gilliam and George Romero’s zombie series. Collectively, these essays reveal the durability and thematic versality of what the authors term the “Catholic fantastic.”

About the Author(s)

Regina Hansen is a senior lecturer at Boston University College of General Studies. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Regina Hansen

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6474-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8724-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 2

Section One: Marvelous Catholicism
When the Saints Go Marching In: Saints, Money andthe Global Marketplace in Danny Boyle’s Millions (John Regan) 17
Blasphemy in the Name of Fantasy: The Films of Terry Gilliam in a Catholic Context (Christopher McKittrick) 29
Sacramentality Between Catholicism and the New Age inThe Lord of the Rings (Em McAvan) 41
The Devil Made Me Do It: Catholicism, Verisimilitude and the Reception of Horror Films (Rick Pieto) 52
The Power of Christ Compels You: Moral Spectacle and The Exorcist Universe (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas) 65
Our Lady of Fatima and Marian Myth in Portuguese Cinema (Paulo Cunha and Daniel Ribas) 81

Section Two: Uncanny Catholicism
Music That Sucks and Bloody Liturgy: Catholicism in Vampire Movies (Isabella van Elferen) 97
The Blood Is the Life: Roman Catholic Imagery in Vampire Films of the 1930s (Ann Kordas) 114
House of Horrors: Brideshead Revisited at the Movies (Kathleen E. Urda) 126
Drying Blood: De-sexualization and Style in Paul Schrader’s Cat People (Marco Grosoli) 140
Something in the Dark: Race, Faith, Horror and the Other (Ralph Beliveau) 152

Section Three: Ridiculous and Monstrous Catholicism
Reversing the Gospel of Jesus: How the Zombie Theme Satirizes the Resurrection of the Body and the Eucharist (Jana Toppe) 169
Kin Dza Dza! Christianity and Its Transformations Across Space (Margarita Georgieva) 183
Murder Mystery Meets Sacred Mystery: The Catholic Sacramental in Hitchcock’s I Confess (Barry C. Knowlton and Eloise R. Knowlton) 196
Catholic Moral Teaching as a Fantastic Element in Gone Baby Gone (Brett Gaul) 209
The Fantastic Roman Catholic Church in Italian Cinema (Victoria Surliuga) 219
The Satanic Saint in Maurice Pialat’s Sous le soleil de Satan (Christa Jones) 232
Dark Imperative: Kant, Sade and Catholicism in Jess Franco’s Exorcism (David Annandale) 244
Killer Priests: The Last Taboo? (Shelley F. O’Brien) 256
Mad Drunken Exorcists: The Decline of the Hero Priest (Regina Hansen) 268
Otherness in The Others: Haunting the Catholic Other, Humanizing the Self (Anabel Altemir Giral and Ismael Ib·Òez Rosales) 275

About the Contributors 287
Index 291

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “the diversity of the essays makes the book fascinating”—The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
  • “this volume provides a helpful consideration of the important influences and contributions of Roman Catholicism to horror, fantasy, science fiction and other expressions of the fantastic”—TheoFantastique