Yesterday, I saw where someone is making a movie based on a Jack Chick’s Dark Dungeons. I never read this particular one, but I remember Chick tracts from my youth. While they scared the ever-loving bejeezus out of me, I couldn’t not read them. The idea of someone making a movie based on one makes me very happy.
I know that sounds kind of weird, so let me give you some background. During part of my childhood, my family was one of those crazy, charismatic, evangelical ones that witnessed to anyone, in any place, at any time and in any situation. No matter where we were going, we didn’t leave the house without a supply of evangelizing material and Chick tracts were a huge part of our arsenal. I don’t remember giving them out at Halloween, but I do know they got left all sorts of places, stashed away where some unsuspecting heathen would accidentally stumble across them and BAM! They got ambushed with the
fear love of Satan God. With a little luck, they might even get saved which meant another star in our heavenly crowns. Yeah, evangelicals used the scorecard method back then, too.
There are a lot of things from those days I’ve done my best to forget, but those tracts stuck with me. To be honest, about the only thing that caused more nightmares for me than Chick’s rendering of Satan was The Exorcist, which scared the living crap out of me. Sure, today that cartoon-ey Satan is funny, but to a ten-year-old me it was scary as hell. Even so, these little comic books had an irresistible pull on me. Even though I knew it was sure bad-dream fodder, every time I saw one, I just had to read it. It was the same way with my local television station’s Halloween Spooktacular. Every October 31st, they ran Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula and all those other cheesy horror flicks back to back. Until my parents decided Halloween was Satanic, I would sit up and watch as many as I could before I gave out…, or I was sent to bed. And, every time, I lay in bed convinced that monsters were going to get me in sometime during the night. Similarly, after reading some of Chick’s work, I would spend hours petrified that I was bound for Hell unless I acknowledged what an utterly worthless sinner I was and welcomed Jesus into my heart. Even after doing just that, I lived in fear of not being good enough and spending eternity having to look Chick’s freaky-ass Satan in the face.
I’m older now and Chick’s comic books don’t freak me out anymore. In fact, they’re kind of fun to read; with a snarky, condescending attitude, of course. I realize that doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s really weird kind of healing. Reading these little gems of “scare-vangelism” and ridiculing them mercilessly is a way to declare that they don’t have power over me anymore. No nightmares, no scary images flashing into my mind at inopportune moments, no fear of spending eternity roasting in Hell, i.e. none of the stuff that accompanied my evangelical childhood.
Ralls says in the video for his Kickstarter campaign that “you cannot parody a work of this magnitude. It can’t be done. With something like this, all you can do is present it with a hundred percent sincerity.” I agree 100%. Hopefully, this movie will help exorcise a few more demons from my past. I haven’t watched a lot of indie films, but I might have to make an exception for this one.