The “Catholic Fantastic”: Religion in Horror Films

The “Catholic Fantastic”: Religion in Horror Films November 1, 2011

I’ve long wanted to attempt a book-length project on the amount of religion that shows up in horror films.  The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen (all of them), The Prophecy (all of them), Fallen, Constantine, The Devil’s Advocate …. the list goes on and on.

Thus, it was with envy and relief that I recently discovered that one of my BU colleagues–the brilliant Regina Hansen–has beaten me to it.  Professor Hansen just released a volume she edited entitled Roman Catholicism in Fantastic Film: Essays on Belief, Spectacle, Ritual, and Imagery. Among other things, the book begins constructing a theory that accounts for the fact that crosses and demons show up together in so many movies.

In her helpful introduction, she explains the coincidence of religious and fantastic themes in film by suggesting that Catholicism, which claims to be an “authentic locus of supernatural experience,” often appears as “the sole reference to the fantastic in otherwise realistic films.” That reference can evoke either wonder or dread, and it often elicits the latter in horror films. More simply–and provocatively–religion is the entry point that demons, vampires, zombies, and devils often use to come into filmic space.

Professor Hansen and her contributors develop this theme and others in a wide-ranging collection of essays on the “Catholic fantastic.”  So what are you waiting for?  Go buy the book here.


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