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Why Are There Religious Themes in Horror Movies: Religion, Haunted Mansions and Churches

Updated on September 19, 2012

Why Are There Religious Themes in Horror Movies?

Common Threads

One thing I noticed about my own film reviews is that most of them are horror movies and many of them share similar themes regarding Religion; many of these movies have influence from Christian (mostly Catholic) Religions.

"One Missed Call": St. Luke's Hospital;

"B.T.K.":Dennis Rader was Church President;

"Doubt": the whole movie was based on a priest, a nun, and a private Catholic School;

"Hydra": based on Greek Mythology;

"The Alphabet Killer":the town was called "Churchville", the missing medallion from one of the victims was of St. Philomena-ironically, the "Protector of Children", and lastly, St. Michael's Church (there are several other references but I felt that this was enough for this review).

In "Knowing",Caleb questions the existence of heaven, John Koestler's (Nick Cage) father is a pastor, and Koestler ends up being a modern day Prophet. At one point, Koestler-an atheist-kneels down humbly before the higher presence, which I believe were Angels.

"The Haunting In Connecticut" revolves around a sick boy, Matt, having cancer. His treatments are at "St. Michael's Hospital" and one of Matt's closest friends from his treatments, is a pastor.

Now I find it odd that these elements are intertwined throughout. Who would think that horror movies could be so relative to religion? I never gave it much thought until I began reviewing notes that I took while watching the films.

I feel that many of the reasons we fight wars, or even fight people in general, is due to a combination of fear and misunderstanding, which leads to hate. I think that as civil human beings, if we chose to, we could be more compassionate to others through understanding their customs and belief systems, and stopping the negative stereotypes that fuel anger, hate and racism.

If each and everyone of us "Paid It Forward" just a little bit everyday, then imagine the possibilities for our entire race. We should be free to share our faiths, opinions, and ideals without fear of aggression, repercussion, being singled out, or hated.

I ask of all my readers, when you think about this, please say a prayer-no matter who your "God" is, for world peace and triumphant brotherhood between billions of people around the world. Hate may be an innate thing, but acting out on that hate is an action; a behavior that can be modified. When we refuse to act out this hate, we can then begin to change the way we view our enemies. God Bless us all!


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    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      That was very deep randaljbatty. Thank you for adding to the discussion.


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      randaljbatty 5 years ago

      Another thought. People seem to be entranced, enthralled, mystified and most importantly afraid of evil. Everyone seems to suffer from the dichotomy between evil and its opposite. Religious or not, ever man and woman has to confront the evil within over and over again. Evil has the ability to change its form and its (sometimes) allure, regardless of age. I think everyone is tempted to stare into the darkness to see what's there. But, as Carl Jung warned -- be careful, for as long as you stare into the darkness, the darkness is also staring into you. I've done my fair share of staring into the pit over the years, and I've come away humbled. Different levels of horror surround us at all times, and it's a force that cannot be defeated per se, but recognized and given a wide berth. It's important for everyone to have a focal point, a mantra, a point of light upon which to focus in times of extreme darkness and doubt. If we lose this point of light, we run into the danger of falling into the abyss.

      I recommend William Peter Blattey's "The Ninth Configuration" aka "Twinkle, Twinkle Killer Kane," which is both a novel and a motion picture. Like the "Exorcist," Blattey artfully portrays the soul's intense struggle between good and evil.

      The horror movie is like a roller-coaster ride. It creates the illusion of our destruction through clever engineering, but doesn't let us succumb to real harm.

      I'm not a horror film fan because I read about real horror every day in the news. It's okay for mommy or daddy to chase us into our beds at night when we're children, as they pretend to be some ghoulish monsters. The gut-sinking thing is when you become old enough to realize that there are real monsters among us.

    • yesblogger profile image

      Amartya Gupta 5 years ago from India


    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thanks rjbatty! Sorry it took me so long to reply but I am working every day right now and have limited time on HubPages. Personally, I love a good horror film, specifically suspense and psychological thrillers. I don't care for gore too much or predictable cheesy horror.

      When I first joined HubPages 3 years ago I was laid off from a job and looking for ways to make money online. You can imagine the scams that are out there! Anyway, since I love watching movies I decided to write reviews about them. Overall, it wasn't a huge success but it helped me refine my writing and I eventually moved on to writing other types of content. I think I am due for a movie review soon!

      I have noticed so many religious elements to many horror movies. I think that since many faiths use fear as a scare tactic, it is only natural for horror writers to use that fear in their scripts. I myself am born and raised Catholic, but I am very open and accepting of other religions, or non-religious.

      It would be refreshing to see Satan and his minions play a different roll in the movies. God as the Ultimate Super Hero! Maybe you are on to something here? Are you considering writing the next block buster? Something to think about!

      I appreciate your insightful comment. Thanks for stopping by!


    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 5 years ago from Irvine

      This is definitely a different Hub. I don't see much horror outside the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises. I'm definitely not into splatter films, which I consider the worst kind of film making possible. Your tie-in to a moral obligation among men is unique and not something I'd expect to find in a Hub primarily sketching the outlines of various horror films. Without a doubt there is a symbiosis between good and evil, and in some minor way this gets played out in the action of a horror movie. I am basically an atheist, but I have a thought to throw out there to you and your followers, and it is this: Why is it that in ninety-nine percent of the motion pictures that involve evil (and particularly some aspect of Satan as a physical entity) that we have so little intervention by God? It gets my goat that Satan can run rampant over the earth and cause all sorts of bloodshed, and God is nowhere to be seen. I would love to see a movie where Satan and his minions are squashed like bugs either by God himself or his angels. That would be really unique and heart warming. Why not make God the ultimate superhero?

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello Painted Seahorse! "The Exorcist" is another great addition to this genre. I didn't add it only because I haven't written a review about it. I guess to make "evil" you have to have an element of good which is usually taken from religious beliefs and social norms. Thanks for the insightful comment!


    • Painted Seahorse profile image

      Brittany Rowland 6 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Interesting hub, J.S.Matthew! I think of "The Exorcist" too as a religious film. It deals with faith lost and found. The author of the book saw it as proof of God's love even in the face of evil.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I pray for the same peace tillsontitan! You are my first comment on this article and I wrote it back on 08/10/2009! Patience is a virtue! Thanks for stopping by!


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      How right you are on every point. While hate is an innate thing it can come alive in those who foster it. Praying for peace and paying it forward could definitely change the world!