“A Thief in the Night” Was The First Christian Horror Film To Fuck Me Up
I have never been squeamish when it comes to movies that are erected to arouse our greatest fears. I was a huge fan of The Exorcist because I loved the part where Linda Blair who plays the child Satan incessantly toying with — spits out the words: “Let Jesus Fuck You!”
There was something epically appealing about the awesomeness of the Devil’s wrath that seemed to be borne out of the lust for self-indulgence. The history of Satan’s emergence is rooted in the fact that he was originally an angel, and then expectedly — he was tainted by the seduction of the dark side.
He ended up being unceremoniously cast out by God — to roam and terrorize.
In The Exorcist — Regan is playing host to an overwhelming demon — who has a lot of shit to work out — and no matter how hard the priests condemn such a presence — there’s no mistaking that the ultimate star of the 1973 cult classic— is refreshingly the devil himself.
When I heard those four words in the context of sexual tendencies and the action against the area that seems to hold us all hostage in pleasurable and deviant ways — I became emancipated.
I understood the power of good vs. evil — and after what happened to me at the age of nine — there was no way I could downplay being swayed by the charisma of an evil figure with the mystical disadvantage of being the ruler of hell. Maybe Satan was eager and curious like Eve — when she was deemed as somewhat of a conniving whore — after she persuaded Adam to stop being a damn pussy.
There is enough evidence to suggest that following God’s doctrine to the core — requires a level of blindness that is captivating in an astute way but not necessarily practical in every day living.
Growing up in Nigeria, as an Igbo girl — Christianity was the preferred default and the rules were stuffed down our throats with steady fury. In my household — church was mandatory and so were fellowships — that were held in different locations — featuring tea and biscuits — and the soundtrack of the spirit spewing out jargon — through the mouths of believers — who looked like they could benefit from a good night’s sleep — after all that thrashing about.
Boarding school was a tricky endeavor as social night comprised of brave girls taking to the stage to belt out Whitney Houston’s latest craze or the viewing of movies that weirdly consisted of mostly Indian films (those were hilariously popular back in the eighties and nineties) or religious-themed offerings.
I was about eleven-years-old when I stopped living at home — full time — and I wasn’t upset about it — because that was just the way things were done. Outside of my parents’ care I was raised by school prefects, nosey teachers and boarding school mistresses that were never satisfied with anything we did.
There was also the climate that festered all the fables and traditions that give the landscape of tribes more than its share of distress. I had many friends and they all did their best to add more terror to my already crowded abyss. The wells where we drew water for morning and nightly baths — were supposedly inhabited by an overall spirit with choosey tendencies.
Mami Wata was a constant threat — especially in the darkness when heaven forbid you might stumble upon her imposing form — washed up for hydration — and be changed forever more.
None of those potential instances prepared me for the life-altering and jarringly abusive movie that finally banned my ability to ever give God the benefit of the doubt — without checking with his nemesis first.
A Thief in the Night — turned my night upside down and I was basically never the same. I was quite young when I watched it — I wasn’t even a teenager yet — which explains why the imagery was so profoundly debilitating. I can still see the deadly prongs — agape with hunger for the bodies of sinners.
I had to research the film — in order to confirm the validity of the scenes that come into view when I recall the event. It’s a doomsday plot that violently assaults you into submission when you take in the evil that befalls those who refute the instincts of self-awareness and the freedom of personalized ownership.
The protagonist — Patty — is in a never-ending nightmare that plays out with her being left behind by the consequences of the Rapture, which is the period when folks who exemplified the nobility of God’s children — are retrieved from impending doom. Her family members are gone and she is left to contend with the aftermath of societal cleansing, which translates into a torturous exercise of wit and steadfastness.
Patty was the scariest character on screen because she resembled my disposition in a way that I never quite grasped — until I watched her suffer for being me. She refused to be coerced into the Kingdom of God and she also didn’t want to be branded with the mark of the Beast.
It was no-win situation that even my under-developed mind earnestly applauded — until she was tossed into the pit — where she was impaled for her lovely stubbornness. Granted in the film — her frightening demise is a dream sequence — but at that age — it seemed pretty goddamn real.
The visuals were breathtakingly gory and looking back — it’s insanity that I was allowed to view something so vile — and at the same time — I was forbidden from watching The Thorn Birds — because it was a stench-filled TV series about a Catholic priest who has the hots for a young beautiful woman who unforgivably challenges his duty to God.
A Thief in the Night was and still is a brutal assessment of all the reasons why Christianity still remains a mystery. It’s the reason why slavery was allowed to flourish and it was the incentive for missionaries who were shipped out to faraway territories to distract and enlighten natives — while resources were being uprooted to the hymns of dead saints.
I truly became human afterwards — and I remember the nightmares that followed — as I battled the creature of good who was clothed in slime and eventually merged with the thoughts in my head — that could never save me from Patty’s fate.
I was fucked up for most of my boarding school days — and it took my young adult years to rescue me from the nonsense of heaven and hell.
There is no doubt that the most horrific acts occur in the righteous pulpits — that never seem to burst into flames — each time a priest with hands that tragically manipulate members that don’t belong — steps up — to lead lost souls astray.
I have to believe the filmmakers of the movie that danced on my wounds — had a mission to expose the perfected hypocrisy — and for that reason alone — I forgive them.
Patty was the harassed heroine — and I’m proud that I peeped that from the jump. She was’t afraid to explore her options — even in the midst of apocalyptic pressure that she endured with the grace of a mind — that wasn’t easily manipulated.
The era we’re currently embodying scarily matches the frames of the seventies cult — as social media has evolved into the beast that is hellbent on erasing our ability to compose our own thoughts or even readily express them without the bone-chilling fear of being trolled to death.
The administration that powers our livelihood is commanded by a beastly thug who believes in White power and won’t rest until he converts his congregation against themselves as each word he releases is immediately devoured for clicks and imminent stardom.
As for me — I still enjoy saying “Let Jesus Fuck You” out loud.
There’s something fundamentally right about rejecting the status quo and the notion that if you question God’s complex nature — you’re somehow condemned for all eternity.
If God can be as viscerally damaged and vengeful as He’s depicted in the Bible — then why the hell (no pun intended) can’t we have the freedom to be all things or nothing at all.
Christian films from back in the day didn’t pretty up the price you pay for telling God to go fuck himself — and somehow I always found that to be condescendingly righteous.
That’s why I became the Thief in the Night with the motivation of scaring away the angels that weren’t sent to protect me.
That’s the best part about fiction — you can make the chapters save you without prayers. That’s when the horror show officially ends.