This outrageous "soul-winner" was the first of several collaborations between fire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher ESTUS PIRKLE and exploitation director RON ORMOND, best known for The Exotic Ones, about a monster terrorizing strippers. Ormond found God after a pair of near-fatal plane accidents and decided to help Pirkle spread The Word after meeting him in Dallas.
In this film. Pirkle preaches to his congregation about the horrors which would befall America in the event of a Communist invasion. These horrors are graphically dramatized as he speaks. The sermon deeply affects a young woman named Judy (JUDY CREECH), whose mother died begging Judy to accept Jesus. After the sermon, Judy falls to her knees and repents. Pirkle asks us to do the same. I know, sounds boring, right? But, as they say, the Devil is in the details...
Pirkle looks like a dour, old Tim Kazurinsky, and his droning sermon threatens all sorts of ghastly terrors, which are acted out by Ormond film regular CECIL SCAIFE, who plays a Russian Commissar. Much of the film consists of inbred-looking townsfolk lying around dead on sidewalks, dripping with bright fakey blood, but certain scenes of appalling propaganda and gory violence (mostly involving small children) are what make this picture an unbelievable must-see.
As Pirkle reminisces about his rural school and "simple games like 'Drop the Handkerchief'", we see a hippie schoolteacher telling his class about female erogenous zones. He is apparently one of the "footmen" whose amorality will pave the way for the Communists on horseback. Pirkle also singles out cartoons, drive-ins, and "dancing - the front door to adultery."
After the Reverend reminds us that "sixty years ago, there was not one Communist in the world," a bunch of soldiers stop at a house and put all the children in a truck before shooting the parents. In the funniest scene, a commie teacher brainwashes children by teaching them that Jesus can't bring them any candy, but the "glorious Fidel Castro" can! Then a guy gets shot for teaching his son about Jesus and the kid has his eardrums poked out with a sharp stick and vomits in close-up!
A nice blond woman sews a dress in her living room. Naturally, Scaife shows up drunk, knocks her husband unconscious and flings him out the front door. The crazed pinko advances on the frightened woman, no doubt planning unspeakable violations, as Rev. Pirkle asks us to imagine that she's our mother. As Ormond's camera pans over an altar covered with dead children, their throats slashed and bleeding on a Bible, the word "overkill" comes to mind.
More tortures follow: people are hung from their porches for days, a man has his mouth filled with large scoops of salt, and the community is forced to sit on cushionless benches as a tape repeats "Christianity is stupid" over and over. Finally, an entire church congregation is machine-gunned, leaving only a young orphan boy alive. Scaife orders the child to step on a picture of Jesus, but he won't do it, so Scaife cuts his head off and it bounces across a field! "Does this shock you?" Pirkle asks.
All of this is too much for young Judy, who starts weeping and picturing her poor dead momma in her coffin. Pirkle reminds the girl that her mother died without seeing her one wish - that Judy surrender her soul to Jesus. Judy (who wears way too much blue eyeshadow) repents as the film ends.
Pirkle and Ormond were back with Believers Heaven and The Burning Hell not long afterward. Each were shown in Southern churches as "soul-winners", followed immediately by a call for parishioners to come to the altar and accept Jesus like their onscreen models. The problem for the Ormond family was that Pirkle got all the money, leading Ron to dissolve the partnership and continue his unique brand of inspirational filmmaking elsewhere. Future partners included the unwilling Campari spokesmodel JERRY FALWELL and Jumpin' JACK VAN IMPE.
The band NEGATIVLAND used Pirkle samples in a song called "Christianity Is Stupid" (1987), then claimed that the tour for their next album - Helter Stupid - had been cancelled because the song was implicated in a Minnesota quadruple-homicide. It wasn't.
AWCM Rating: D-/A+
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Web page created 31 March 2002.