"Angels Carrying Savage Weapons": Uses
of the Bible in Contemporary Horror Films

by Mary Ann Beavis


1. Articles which explore horror in the Bible are: Judith Lee, "Sacred Horror: Faith and Fantasy in the Revelation to John,"in George Aichele, ed., The Monstrous and the Unspeakable: The Bible as Fantastic Literature (Sheffield:  Academic Press, 1997), 220-39; "Prototypic Horror: The Genre of the book of Job," Semeia 60 (1992) 23-38; Lloyd D. Worley, "Impaling, Dracula and the Bible," Monstrous and Unspeakable, 168-80; David Penchansky, "God the Monster: Fantasy in the Garden of Eden,"Monstrous and Unspeakable, 43-60; see also Timothy K. Beal, Religion and Its Monsters (New York: Routledge, 2002), 13-85.  On religion (including the Bible) in horror, see Beal, Relgion and Its Monsters, 89-196.  Bryan Stone notes that the topic of religion and horror has been largely overlooked by the academic literature on horror films ("The Sanctification of Fear: Images of the Religious in Horror Films," Journal of Religion and Film 5,2 (2002), 14 pp.).

2. Andrew Tudor, Monsters and Mad Scientists: A Cultural History of the Horror Movie (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 49-54.

3. Adele Reinhartz, "Scripture on the Silver Screen," Journal of Religion and Film 3,1 (1999), 11 pp. 

4. Reinhartz, "Scripture," ¶29.

5. Reinhartz, "Scripture," 29.

6. One genre in which the Bible often appears is the vampire movie.  Since the role of the Bible in vampire films has been discussed elsewhere, this topic will not be addressed here (see Larry J. Kreitzer, "The Scandal of the Cross: Crucifixion Imagery in Bram Stoker's Dracula," Monstrous and Unspeakable, 181-219; see also Larry R. Kreitzer, Pauline Images in Fiction and Film: Reversing the Hermeneutical Flow (Sheffield: Academic, 1999), 113-42.  In general, the Bible serves in conventional ways in vampire films, i.e., as a source of true teaching about the supernatural realm, and as a weapon against evil.  Kreizer discusses the use of communion imagery in Bram Stoker's Dracula  and The Lost Boys, and the portrayal of the vampire as a perverse Christ-figure the Coppola film.

7. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, "Introduction," The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds.; Oxford: University Press, 1993), vi.

8. Isa 11:6.

9. Exod 20:3; Deut 5:7.

10. All biblical quotations are from the King James Version, which is the one usually quoted in the movies.

11. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (Wheaton, IL:  Tyndale House, 1996); this is the first installment in a multi-volume series.

12. Although the NT does contain references to the "catching up" of the saints to meet Christ in the heavens (1 Thess 4:17; 2 Thess 2;1-2; Matt 13:30; 24:31), the term "rapture" is not actually used.  The term was popularized by the English fundamentalist John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), who maintained that "just before the Tribulation [the rule of the antichrist], there would be a 'Rapture,' a snatching-up of born-again Christians, who would be taken up to heaven and so escape the terrible sufferings of the Last Days" (Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God [New York: Ballantine, 2000], 139).

13. Rev 13:18.

14. According to Rev 5:5, Christ-the-lion is the one able to open the seven seals.

15. See Kaufmann Kohler and Ludwig Blau, "Preexistence," JewishEncyclopedia.com

16. Carl Greiner, "The Rapture: A Challenging Vision of Horror," Journal of Religion and Film 1,1 (1997) 7 pp.

17. Greiner seems to confuse the Rapture with "the apocalypse, the end of the world," and regard it as part of the apocalyptic timetable of the Book or Revelation (which it is not); see Greiner, "The Rapture," 17-18.

18. Greiner, "The Rapture," 19-20.

19. Greiner, "The Rapture, "19.

 20. Greiner, "The Rapture,"23.

21. Greiner, "The Rapture," 25.

22. Greiner, "The Rapture," 16.

23. Thomas Harris, Red Dragon (New York: Dell, 1981).

24. To view the Blake's painting, see the CGFA Web Site.

25. Thomas also quotes a spurious verse supposed to be from the writings of St. Paul: "even now in heaven there are angels carrying savage weapons."  For biblical passages featuring armed angels, see Num 22:23, 31; 1 Chron 21:12, 16, 21, 30; 2 Chron 32:21; Rev 2:12.

26. For other examples of this genre, see Prophecy Movies at ArmageddonBooks.com.

27. For a discussion of the moral dimensions of the Left Behind series, see Paul Custodio Bube, "Left Behind with Harry Potter," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada, November 23-26, 2002.

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