As May Day approaches, the Sectarian Review Podcast explores the classic pagan horror film, The Wicker Man. C. Derick Varn joins the show for a discussion about this fascinating and chilling religious horror film, pitting fundamentalist Christianity against a neo-Pagan cult off the coast of Britain. In this film, a stuffy, Christian, British cop gets called to a bizarre Pagan island off the coast to investigate the disappearance of a young girl and....blah blah blah....human sacrifice! What does this film say about religion? About secularism (is that just another form of religion?)? How does the movie connect with other Christopher Lee films, like The Devil Rides Out? A wonderful discussion of a truly great, truly disturbing film.
"The Various Versions of The Wicker Man"
"Christopher Lee Defeats the Devil"
Documentary about The Wicker Man
Ack! Tentacles! In this episode, David Grubbs, Carter Stepper, and Danny Anderson discuss the horror subgenre, “Weird Fiction.” Typified by H.P. Lovecraft’s “cosmic horror,” the genre is low Modernism at its finest. What defines Weird Fiction? How does it subvert and challenge Gothic horror? What challenges does it off the Christian reader? This episode focuses the discussion on three exemplars of the genre: M.R. James’ “Count Magnus,” R.E. Howard’s “Pigeons From Hell,” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model."
Pigeons From Hell
Joining the show today is Dr. Douglas E. Cowan, Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison University College. Cowan has recently published a book for NYU Press called America’s Dark Theologian: The Religious Imagination of Stephen King. In the book, Cowan argues that King’s fiction represents a way of “doing” theology outside the traditional structures of historical churches. The argument has immense implications for both theology and popular culture studies. Tune in and learn how King’s work qualifies as theological and why academia too often dismisses the work of popular writers. Is academia its own kind of priesthood, guarding its own traditions? Also, what is the distinction between “answers” and “questions” in theology? How does King’s work challenge the idea of “safe” religion? What King’s work has to say about Ritual, Theodicy, and Cosmology? How does Pet Sematary model a comparative religions seminar? Many thanks to Doug Cowan for a fun, educational discussion.
America’s Dark Theologian
In 1988 John Carpenter, auteur of genre classics like Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China, wrote and directed a powerhouse cult classic movie called They Live. Starring professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, the film crossed the sci-fi, horror, action, and lowbrow comedy genres while making a potent political statement about Ronald Reagan’s America and capitalism in the late Twentieth Century. The film follows an unemployed construction worker who discovers sunglasses that reveal the subliminal messages in our advertising and the alien invaders who are manipulating mankind’s fate. Now, thirty years after its release, what does the film have to say about our world?
Zizek on Ideology and They Live - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVwKjGbz60k
William Cavanaugh on Religious Violence - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS2VVLpDyWE
William Cavanaugh on Consumerism - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh22rJpL7zM&t
Special thanks to the band They Live Exclamation Point: Find them and their stuff at the following links:
Live show link:
Recorded live at the 2017 Mount Aloysius Charity Comic Con, Danny is joined by Wayne Wise for a discussion about the history, ethics, and thrills of children in horror. Focusing on the recent remake of Stephen King’s It and Stranger Things, the conversation covers the many ways that children have inspired and consumed horror films. How do children defy rationality? What does Capitalism have to do with this? Why the current rabid nostalgia for the 1980s? All this and much more.
Introducing Wayne Wise
History of children in horror
Children possessing special knowledge that adults don’t have
Mythology, fairy tales, and horror
Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew, too
The horrors of the 1970’s
The 1980’s as an adventure-filled wonderland
It and the search for community
The problem of depicting violence against children
Stranger Things unexpected success
Conspiracy Theory’s hold over our imaginations
The sanitization of contemporary children’s entertainment
Wayne’s book, King of Summer
The enduring allure of King Arthur
Danny’s theory of the “pre-modern”
The moral function of violence
Questions from the audience:
Adam Walsh and America’s Most Wanted?
Stand By Me?
Taboo and subliminal fear of women?
Info about Wayne Wise and his work
Danny’s essay about Christians watching It
It’s that magical time of the year! Time for the annual Christian Humanist Radio Network Halloween Crossover. The Sectarian Review Podcast’s contribution features Katie Grubbs and Michial Farmer who join Danny to talk about the Universal classic The Wolf Man. Take a deep dive into the film’s story, background, and subtexts. Freud, Feminism, Class Struggle and more. Also, the team tackle questions about the film from listeners via Twitter. Plus, Danny makes an impassioned defense of the 2010 remake of the film.
Join Danny and C. Derrick Varn for an *in-depth* discussion of the the 1967 Soviet horror film, Viy (based on the Gogol short story). Danny and Derek talk about the cultural significance of Cossacks in Russian history, the Soviet film industry, Ideology, and Eastern Christianity. The film is freely available on YouTube if you want to watch beforehand, but this episode will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Soviet movies where witches terrorize seminary students who don't believe in God.
Link to full film (subtitled)
It's Halloween again and the Christian Humanist Radio Network celebrates with a massive crossover event. Here, Danny Anderson talks with Carter Stepper and The Book of Nature Podcast's Todd Pedlar about a couple of episodes from the essential TV series, The Twilight Zone. Danny, Carter, and Todd discuss two classics from the series, "To Serve Man," and "The Obsolete Man." How do these shows fit into the dystopian tradition? What political position do they assert? How much fun can three people have talking about TV? Listen for answers to these questions and more!
In this Godzilla-sized episode, Danny Anderson and Drew Van’tland are joined by Ed Simon to talk about the intersections between horror, religion, and ethics. This month’s Sectarians talk horror films, Nietzsche, H.P. Lovecraft, Flies, Babadooks, and, James Robertson’s The Testament of Gideon Mack. Also, Danny interviews Dr. Jamie McDaniel of Pittsburg State University about horror, liminality, and Disability Studies. Also listen for a couple of aural surprises!