Tag Archives: atheism

BibleMan: Silencing The Gossip Queen

BibleMan: Silencing The Gossip Queen

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Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

“Silencing the Gossip Queen” is the final episode in the original series of Bibleman, called “The Bibleman Show.” As with the previous episode, “Six Lies of the Fibbler,” Willie Aames is credited as writer, producer, and co-director, as well as filling in the lead role as Bibleman.

The villain of the episode is the eponymous Gossip Queen, who looks like a traditional witch, and also has force lightning powers like Emperor Palpatine.  She apparently just generally hates friendship and good things, which is the extent of the motivation that is provided. She has henchmen by the names of Loose lips and Blabbermouth, which I guess fits with the dastardly theme of gossip. Once again, the villain somehow knows Bibleman’s secret identity without any explanation, and attacks directly at him before trying to go after the children. Also of note is that the Gossip Queen gets a musical number, which is the first time the villain has gotten to perform in the show.

gossipqueen3 “An ounce of gossip is worth a pound of trouble”

-Bibleman

The story of “Silencing the Gossip Queen” centers upon the same group of musical kids that appeared in the previous installments of “The Bibleman Show.” The time, a villain called The Gossip Queen conspires to break up their special friendship  through the use of planted rumors and hearsay. Once again, Bibleman has to help repair the damage and save the day from evil, but only after escaping his kidnapping by The Gossip Queen.

Once again, the villains die miserable, brutal deaths in “Silencing the Gossip Queen.” Bibleman evaporates both Loose Lips and Blabbermouth with deflected lightning blasts, and then melts the Gossip Queen with his laser sword, after which he looks directly into the camera and says:

“The bible warns against ladies like her”

Honestly, that part is pretty bad ass. However, there is something to be said for the fact that Bibleman seems to frequently leave his enemies as corpses. Most heroes that do that are well within the bounds of being anti-heroes, and the practice is pretty seriously frowned on as far as superhero decorum goes. I suppose you can chalk that up to his particularly brutal and conservative version of biblical morality.

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“Silencing the Gossip Queen” isn’t nearly as entertainingly awful as “Six Lives of the Fibbler,” but it is worlds better than the first two episodes in the series. Regardless, I’m thrilled to be done with “The Bibleman Show,” because I just can’t handle any more awful child-driven Christian musical numbers. I hadn’t seen any of these episodes previously, and now I think I know why they aren’t as popular as the later series, which strike me as being generally better polished in most regards. They are still awful, and I might eat my words on this, but they aren’t nearly as bad as “The Bibleman Show,” which is generally a dull, unfocused mess. As far as a recommendation goes, you could do worse than “Silencing the Gossip Queen,” but there are some more entertaining entries in the Bibleman franchise that are more worth your time.

BibleMan: Six Lies of the Fibbler

BibleMan: Six Lies of the Fibbler

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Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

“Six Lies of the Fibbler” is the third episode of the original Bibleman series, “The Bibleman Show.” Willie Aames wrote, produced, and co-directed “Six Lies of the Fibbler,” while also portraying the lead character of Bibleman. Chris Fann again co-directs, but Milt Schaffer and C. Scott Votaw are notably absent from the credits, and Tony Salerno is relegated to solely receiving creation credit for the episode. There is definitely a quality difference between the first two episodes and “Fibbler” that makes me wonder if there was some change in personnel and direction behind the scenes, which might explain a lot.

“Six Lies of the Fibbler” is once again a musical, as all of the original “The Bibleman Show” episodes appear to be. The introductory song is something like “Bible Vision,” which sounds like a useless power that Bibleman might actually have. The music certainly hasn’t gotten any better from the first two episodes, and the increase in necessary dramatic acting on the children’s parts results in a product that is hilariously awful, more so than the first two entries in the series.

The villain of “Six Lies of the Fibbler” is, of course, The Fibbler: a damn creepy orange clown who hypnotizes children into lying through the use of some sort of magic dust. The Fibbler is definitely the most ridiculous and over the top villain on the show thus far, and is genuinely a bit unsettling, particularly thanks to the makeup work (which is reminiscent of The Joker). I will note that for the first time in the series, the villain actually interacts with the kids, rather than just going after Bibleman. This does liven things up a little bit, and gives the villain character some badly needed additional screen time in comparison to the first two episodes.

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“Six Lies of the Fibbler” introduces a lot of elements that pop up a bunch later on in the series, including Bibleman’s laser sword, the recitation of bible verses while fighting, and a bible lair, which becomes a key set and base of operations later on.

The story of “Six Lies of the Fibbler” once again follows the same children’s musical group from “Big Big Book” and “Back to School,” but this time there is unrest within their ranks. Their youngest member is influenced by a villain named The Fibbler into compulsively lying to her friends, which drives a wedge into the musical group. Bibleman eventually figures out what is going on, and helps bring the group back together.

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One of my big issues with the plot of “Six Lies of the Fibbler” is that the kid was drugged into lying, but it still forced to apologize for her actions while under the effects of The Fibbler’s drugs. The other kids forgive her, but was it ever really her fault? She was a victim, and forced into lying to the group. It is also notable that Bibleman knows that this is the case, but never tells the girl that she was being manipulated by a villain with mysterious chemicals. Way to go, Bibleman.

Speaking of the villain, The Fibbler straight up explodes after his fight with Bibleman, starting a trend of brutal villain deaths that continues throughout the series. Bibleman doesn’t directly kill him, but something tells me that he doesn’t have a non-lethal code of ethics. I’ve read enough of the bible to know that.

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“Six Lies of the Fibbler” just sort of ends right in the middle of a musical number, like they were caught off-guard in the editing process by how long it ultimately ran. I had a brief flashback to the botched conclusion of “Dracula 3000,” which might actually be better than any given episode of “Bibleman.”

“Six Lies of the Fibbler” is actually an episode of “Bibleman” that I would recommend. The villain is ridiculous, the story doesn’t make sense, the acting is awful, and the series is still young enough that all of the costumes and props are incredibly cheap. Even the musical numbers are arguably baffling enough to justify sitting through, though that is definitely up for debate. If you are looking for an introduction to the world of Bibleman, “Six Lies of the Fibbler” is a good place to start.

BibleMan: Back to School

BibleMan: Back to School

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Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

“Back to School” marks the second episode of the original Bibleman video series, “The Bibleman Show.” Willie Aames is once again the title role of Bibleman, and also shares directing and writing credit for the episode. The rest of the team is pretty much the same from “Big Big Book”: C. Scott Votaw, Milt Schaffer, and creator Tony Salerno also have writing credits, with Votaw and and Chris Fann taking co-directing roles alongside Aames.

In the first episode of “The Bibleman Show,” “Big Big Book,” I understood the amount of singing involved. I mean, it was centered around a church musical. However, this episode also starts off with singing, but without the inherent, semi-reasonable justification. It is eventually explained that the same group of kids is going to be performing a similar musical at a local school (thus “Back to School”), but that bit of exposition has to be awkwardly forced into a scene in the form of a fake telephone call.

I can’t describe just how much my heart sank when it dawned on me that all of these original BibleMan episodes were going to be musicals. The fact that the kids in this episode aren’t even in an obvious venue to be singing makes it all seem much worse to me. To add to my frustrations with the whole situation, one of the songs, which takes place entirely in an RV, is specifically about a fictitious train:

Let’s take a trip through the creation
Head on down to the revelation
The train is waiting at the gospel station
so get on board the bible train

Could they not have come up with a song about a “Bible Bus?” That would at least be a closer comparison than a damn train. There is also alliteration to that phrase, which is perfect for this kind of lazy product. Why am I doing their job for them?

The primary villain in “Back to School” is Madame Glitz: a vaguely sinister, vain, and fame-obsessed woman who inexplicably knows Bibleman’s secret identity. She operates with the help of a henchman named ‘Mr. Thug,’ which is pretty much all you need to know about him. Her primary motivation seems to be envy over Bibleman’s popularity, so she plans to kidnap him to turn his fans against him. If that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you, you aren’t alone on that.

“I love it when famous guys don’t show up! Then you can boo and hiss and stuff.”

-actual dialogue from “Back to School”

The story of “Back to School” once again focuses on a children’s musical performance, this time taking place at their local school (which I hope isn’t a public one, because that sounds like a separation of church and state violation to me). Bibleman is scheduled to appear alongside them, as he did in “Big Big Book,” but is kidnapped by Madame Glitz just before the show begins. Bibleman eventually prays his way out of his binds, terrifyingly imprisons Glitz in a television, and shows up in time for a grand finale with the kids.

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After watching “Back to School,” I think I understand why the direction for Bibleman was changed so quickly. It is really just more of the same of what was offered in “Big Big Book,” and there are only so many ways to replicate the same boring story over and over again. The villain is once again the highlight, and she is unfortunately hardly in the episode at all. The largest chunk of it is once again dedicated to the godawful children’s musical numbers, which were really testing my patience with this one. Also, somehow the dialogue seems to have gotten worse for this episode. My favorite exchange by far is right after the musical has completed, when two kids in the audience enthusiastically say to each other:

Kid 1: Wow! That was excellent!

Kid 2: Yeah! Seriously, comic books are tame compared to this stuff. I think I’m going to go out and get me a bible!

Kid 1: Cool idea! Me too!

It is like the producers’ fantasy-land version of America’s youth. Shame it didn’t work out that way for them, isn’t it?

I don’t recommend watching this episode, but it is available in its entirely on YouTube if you are just deathly curious. If you can’t resist, I implore you to at least skim through the songs, because you aren’t going to be missing anything with them. The only exception is, of course, “The Bible Train,” which managed to inexplicably fill me with hate and darkness.

BibleMan: Big Big Book

BibleMan: Big Big Book

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Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

In 1995, the first ever installment of the Bibleman franchise came to be. “Big Big Book” kicked off the short lived initial incarnation of the series, called “The Bibleman Show,” and launched an evangelical quasi-phenomenon.

Willie Aames, who is best known for television shows like “Charles in Charge” and “Eight is Enough,” co-wrote, co-directed, and stars here as Bibleman, and is the person most publicly recognized as being associated with the show.

The character’s creation is credited to Tony Salerno, who also has writing and producing credits on this initial episode. The other two writers on the episode were Milt Schaffer and C. Scott Votaw, the latter of which worked in a variety of capacities on b-movies like “2001 Maniacs,” “Bikini Drive-In,” and Jim Wynorski’s “Dinosaur Island.”

The initial Bibleman costume used in “The Bibleman Show” episodes is pretty laughable, and was clearly constructed on a minimal budget. Compared to the shiny, chrome/plastic uniform that would show up in later episodes, it is amazing to see how far the show and the character came over the course of its run.

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“Big Big Book” doesn’t feature any sidekicks for Bibleman, who I assume start showing up in the later series. The villain is a pretty generic evil scientist with green skin, named Dr. Decepto, which is certainly a pattern for Bibleman villains as the show goes on. He isn’t quite as elaborate or offensive as many of the later antagonist, but the performance is plenty hammy enough to be entertaining.  He also has a great high-pitched evil laugh, which is always a plus.

The story of “Big Big Book” follows a group of children who are working on a bible-themed musical for their church. The planning isn’t going well, and a number of the kids want to quit, in order to not be embarrassed by a sub-par result. Bibleman shows up at a rehearsal, and tells the kids a story about a previous exploit where he prayed his way out of a hairy situation with Dr. Decepto. The story gives them the confidence to go forward with the show, which theoretically goes off without a hitch. Except, of course, for the fact that it sounds awful, but no one seems to care all that much. They are just happy that they went through with it.

“God’s probably sitting up there thinking: ‘Nice lame-o show, kids.'”

The content of the musical is of course ridiculous, and takes a handful of potshots at science education and evolution. It is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a Bibleman musical, honestly. Some of the kids straight-up cannot sing, which makes parts of it nearly unwatchable. The whole thing is kind of like a worse version of “Kidz Bop” for fake Christian music, if you can imagine such a thing. The musical section also takes up a huge chunk of the episode, which unfortunately (?) doesn’t have a lot of Bibleman in it.

The one fight sequence in “Big Big Book” is a blurry mess, and is almost as hard to watch as the musical. Bibleman notably doesn’t have the laser sword of the later episodes, instead using a traditional sword and shield.

If there is anything positive to say about “Big Big Book,” it is that it actually has some charm to it compared to the later episodes of the seriess, which attempt to be comedic and self-aware. It is still completely awful and beyond cheesy, cut it is at least an honestly made mess.

The theme song is also much different than what I am accustomed to hearing with the later episodes, which drift into a sort of pseudo-rock style. This initial theme song is pretty generic and forgettable, but certainly contributes to the heavy 1990s style of the episode.

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Speaking of which, the 1990s bleeds out of every pore of this video. The fashion, the hair, the music, the colors: all of it makes for an astounding flashback. The nostalgia factor of it all is actually pretty amusing, and might make the whole thing worth sitting through for some folks.

As you would expect, “Big Big Book” features awful acting from all involved,  and horrendous writing to boot.  However, the added ‘benefit’ of the musical is what makes this episode stand out from the pack that I had previously seen. Lots of Bibleman episodes feature a song, but this episode being centered around a children’s church musical makes it so much worse than any of the music offered with other episodes. It is nearly unbearable.

Brad Jones, better known as The Cinema Snob, took a look at this episode on his show “DVD-R Hell.” If you don’t want to stomach actually watching this, his overview hits the key points and highlights with his typical sardonic wit.

This is the first of the initial run of “The Bibleman Show” episodes that I have sat through, and I’m mostly just hoping (praying?) that the rest of these early episodes don’t feature as much cringe-inducing singing.

S.O.S.

Welcome to yet another installment of (God)Awful Movies! This time around, I’m checking out the baffling Christian music video compilation “S.O.S.”, which was brought to my attention through the most recent episode of RedLetterMedia’s “Best of the Worst”. You can check out the whole video below (and you should, it is a great episode).

Something that you may note from the episode is that the RLM gang’s copy of “S.O.S.” is completely in Japanese, so they do their best to piece together the themes from the visuals alone. They also weren’t able to do much research on the video, given the language barrier. Lucky for me, I found an english copy of “S.O.S.” on YouTube, and was able to learn about the video’s background…sort of.

“S.O.S.” was produced by “The Family International”, which is a sort of peculiar hippie cult version of Evangelical Christianity. I highly recommend reading the wikipedia page on the group, as their theology is nothing short of baffling. Here is an excerpt for you:

“[Loving Jesus] is a term that TFI members use to describe their intimate, sexual relationship with Jesus. TFI describes the “Loving Jesus” teachings as a radical form of bridal theology.[18] It is their understanding of the Bible that the followers of Christ are his bride, called to love and serve him with the fervor of a wife. They took bridal theology further than mainstream Christians by encouraging members to imagine that Jesus is having sex with them during sexual intercourse and masturbation. Male members were encouraged to visualize themselves as women, in order to avoid a homosexual relationship with Jesus.”

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That’s sure something, isn’t it? The only thing I knew about TFI prior to reading that entry was that River and Joaquin Phoenix were both raised as part of the organization for a time, and that it was a bit out of left field. It looks like there is a deep, dark hole to dig into in regards to some shady practices by the organization, but I’m not going to go any deeper into it here. I’d much rather ridicule some ridiculous music videos.

The first segment doesn’t dig explicitly into Christianity, but does give us a ton of goofy robots and early CGI. Watching it in English, it is clearly a luddite/anti-technology song, which comes back in a big way later on. To my dismay, the title song “S.O.S.” in this segment is ridiculously catchy, so I suppose the people behind this have to get kudos for that. It is definitely interesting that without the context of the later videos, it is easy to think that the “angels” in this section are either aliens, greek god-creatures, or sprites of some sort. Given how heavy-handed the segments get later on, this part definitely feels like a “wedge” or “hook” to get general audiences into the fold.

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Surely this technology will save us from the technology
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Worshiping a trash compacter makes about as much sense as cult that produced this mess.
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The cupid/angel/overlords of love. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t fight the robots.

The second segment is probably the most forgettable of all of them. The first couple of minutes show a band repeating the same two lines of a song about a billion times while a “party” commences in front of them. This bit segues immediately into a romantic song (via some of the worst transitions you will ever see) in which two partygoers leer at each other across a room and fantasize about each other. It is astoundingly uncomfortable to watch.

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It holds on this shot for way too long. Try not to make eye contact.

The third segment is nothing short of a beautiful treasure of nonsense. You could basically boil it down to being a “God’s Not Dead” musical comedy. There are a lot of monkey suits (and monkeys in suits?) involved, and you will be left wondering just how our education system managed to fail so many so completely. They even cap it off with a reference to Charles Darwin’s “deathbed conversion”. Oh joy!

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So, we have a guy in a suit being a monkey, and a guy in a suit AND a monkey suit just being a guy. Got it.
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Cronenberg’s Theory of Evolution by Nightmare Selection

The fourth segment is pretty straight-forward anti-abortion propaganda. All subtleties have long been jettisoned by the time this portion gears up, so this song is written from the perspective of the fetus singing to the would-be mother, featuring such lyrics as “Mother keep me, I’m your baby! / Oh Mother let me live, don’t take away my life”. I was completely unprepared for the lyrics to this one, as I initially just saw clips of the Japanese version on RedLetterMedia. With the translations, this segment is by far the most abysmal. Not only is there nothing to laugh at in it, but the damn thing is just disgustingly predatory.

I'm not a doctor or anything, but I'm pretty sure that is just an x-acto knife.
I’m not a doctor or anything, but I’m pretty sure that is just an x-acto knife.

The fifth segment enlightens the audience to the inherent evils of grocery stores, and encourages everyone to abandon technology entirely in favor of living in the woods to count down to the rapture. Yeah, that’s where this is all going. This may be the best segment, just due to the creepy makeup and baffling premise. Once again, the song is undeservedly catchy for a tune about the evil of grocery store scanners.

angels11 angels9Segment six follows up with the same grocery-phobic commune that concludes segment five, and we get to go full-on rapture. There are some lovely interpretive drawings of the rapture featured for some reason, a handy rapture calendar is shown, a lot of vague pointing happens, and Jesus himself makes a fly-by cameo! It all finishes up with the green-screened rapture of the central characters, where they narrowly escape the satanic grocery stormtroopers. It is all quite good fun if you can distance yourself from the fact that people took/take this seriously.

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“awww yisss, rapture!”
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Do rapture calendars involve candy or something, like those advent calendars?
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Vaguely pointing upward. I assume at the flying, crucified Jesus.
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A smiling, crucified Jesus flies overhead. Kind of like a kite I guess.
Google image search hasn’t failed me yet.

For the record, after a green-screened rapture, anything else is going to be an anticlimax. There’s just nowhere to go from there. Nevertheless, there is a segment seven. Outside of some excellent Rick Astley dancing, there isn’t a whole lot to see in this one. The way this segment is shot is really jarring and unpleasant to watch (odd effects mostly), and it doesn’t have any kind of plot within itself. We get some visual recaps from each section over a song about rebirth and the aforementioned Astley-dancing, and then the YouTube video bluescreens for about five minutes. That was my favorite part.

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I’ve never been so happy to see this

So, is “S.O.S.” worth watching? Abso-fucking-lutely, yes. This is a mind-boggling experience to sit through. It had me laughing at cheesy effects and dated fashions, creeped-out by the cultishness of it all, furious at the bullshit propagated by it, and confused beyond any measure. This is a golden find. I don’t know how RedLetterMedia came by this thing, but somebody knew perfectly well what they were passing on. I can only hope for something this gloriously awful when I rummage through bargain bins. Knowing more about the organization behind this video makes it all the creepier and more perplexing to watch, so I’m a little sad that the RLM people didn’t try to dig up more info ahead of time. On the plus side, they get completely blind-sided by the content, which is damn entertaining.

If you are interested in watching the full English version of “S.O.S.”, you can find it below:

 

Jesus: The Animated Movies

In my latest foray into my local movie store’s bargain bin, I managed to turn up an interesting DVD, titled “The Animated Passion”:

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Of course, I had to pick it up. It is a Bargain Bin(ge) / (God)Awful Movies crossover!

It turns out that the DVD is actually two different short animated movies. They appear to be sort-of related, despite one having a 1988 release and the other 2004. They also look pretty much identical in style, with only minor differences. They are similar enough that I had trouble distinguishing them as different movies, especially given that “He Is Risen” occurs chronologically immediately after “Worthy is the Lamb”. With a little cutting, they could be the same movie easily. Seriously, tell me if these two clips look like they are from different movies:

Both movies are directed by Richard Rich, who is mostly known as one of three directors on “The Fox and The Hound”. Most of his career since that time has been dedicated to religious animated movies like these. Judging from the quality of these movies, I’m not so sure that was by choice. The biggest surprise I found, primarily because there is no promotion of it on the box whatsoever, is that “He is Risen” was written by acclaimed Sci-Fi / Fantasy author Orson Scott Card (of “Ender’s Game” fame). According the IMDb, he did a fair amount of that back in the 80’s. I suppose that isn’t so surprising given his much-maligned opinions on homosexuality, but I was still taken aback to see his name on screen.

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Yeah, fuck this guy

As soon as the first film (“Worthy is the Lamb”) started, there was a lengthy disclaimer on screen about the fact that people from multiple faiths would be depicted, and that no offense was intended to anyone. That sent up a red flag off the bat for me, as it would anyone. As it turns out, it was quite justified. The depictions of Jewish people in this movie are, to say the least, not good. The voice actors go way over-the-top, and the character designs / animations are not flattering. All of that said, the fellow voicing Caiaphas was one of the few highlights in the whole film. He was capital-A “ACTING”. The only people who ever came close to him in hammy-ness were the guys doing Pilate and Judas, fulfilling the age-old tradition of over-the-top bad dudes. In contrast, the guy voicing Jesus sounded like he was about 85 years old. He was soft-spoken, elderly, and was about the least charismatic voice in the cast. This seems to be a running problem with depicting Jesus in just about anything: he always comes off as incredibly boring. I guess that’s the Christian idea of perfection?

Helix has a pretty winning personality compared to your typical on-screen Jesus
Helix has a pretty winning personality compared to your typical on-screen Jesus

The animation in both of these movies is…sub-par. In particular, most of the male characters have identical beards/mustaches, which makes telling people apart nearly impossible. There were also a lot of moments where the motions seemed jarring, like they were cutting corners by skipping frames. There were instances where the animators clearly didn’t know what they were doing, such as when anyone’s feet were in motion on screen, or if any characters were depicted crying. There is also a horrifying moment where sheep are shown in a state of panic during an earthquake. The animators’ attempt to depict sheep mouths looks like nightmare fuel.

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While watching these, I specifically remarked that this is the worst animated feature I had seen since the Titanic animated movies. After doing research, it turns out that the voice actor for Caiaphas was in BOTH of those Titanic animated flicks. Even better, he was the rapping dog. Really.

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The next huge problem with these movies requires some context. Check out this passage from the back of the box:

Your family will enjoy these two movies, appropriate even for young children…These high-quality, scripturally accurate stories will completely captivate children

Let me break down the issue into two key phrases from that passage: “scripturally accurate” and “captivate children”. These movies pull scripture and dialogue straight out of the King James Bible. There are no colloquialisms here, and no attempts to make the features kid-friendly outside of not animating blood. These movies are pretty damn verbose, and astoundingly boring to boot. Outside of the unintentionally entertaining voice acting by the bad guys, this was a chore. I watched these with a couple of friends who I’ve been riffing on movies with for years, and the room was silent for most of the running time. If we couldn’t find much entertainment here, kids are going to tear their eyes out.

If you happen upon this DVD in a bargain bin, I can loosely recommend picking it up. Both features are pretty straight-forward at face value, but the voice acting and animation are bad enough to get some amusement. Also, there are some horrid sing-a-longs on the DVD that use the same animation. In fact, they seem to be discarded scenes from other features, because the characters move their mouths as if they should be speaking, but there is no dialogue for them. Instead, the sing-a-long track is playing, which at first made me think that the characters were singing. I suppose that is one way to make up for a lost audio track or a spare bit of footage? I think they are only on the DVD to fill up all of the empty space on the disc, because combined both features probably don’t crack an hour of run time.

BibleMan vs. The Internet

BibleMan: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

This is the first of many reviews I will be doing on the “BibleMan” series of films in “(God)Awful Movies”. I have been collecting these DVDs out of bargain bins for years, and quickly learned that they are some of the worst religious movies that you will ever come across. There are also tons of these out there in circulation, and I do my damnedest to pull as many of them out as I can. Originally played by Willie Aames of “Charles in Charge” fame, the “BibleMan” series was sporadically produced throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. The quality is pretty far from consistent, which is clear from just looking at the costumes used over the years:

Consistency is the work of the devil
Consistency is the work of the devil

The origin story of BibleMan is…vague. As the astoundingly annoying theme song tells us, he used to be rich and powerful. Eventually, he lost everything, which led him to somehow becoming a superhero with the help of Jesus. That doesn’t answer much about the laser sword, the armor, or the super-strength (?) that he apparently acquired, but we aren’t supposed to question anything during BibleMan. It all just is.

There are a few regular villains and some rotating sidekicks that occasionally show up throughout the “BibleMan” series. In this episode, “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”, sidekicks BibleGirl and Cypher are both present, and the villain is a mostly forgettable regular who seems to use different aliases with each episode. There will be more on him later, though.

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Cypher and BibleGirl usually get to hang out in one of the corners

In “BibleMan: Lead Us Not Into Temptation”, the plot starts off as BibleMan tries to save a young, newly-converted Christian child by helping her overcome the bullying she faces from her non-Christian friends. Because, in our Christian-dominated society, that is totally a thing that actually happens. In any case, she becomes tempted by the evil magic of computers and the internet via peer pressure. Satanic forces take over her mind via the internet (a website called “Hackemup.com”) and try to make her to leave her new religion and hang out with her non-Christian bullies. It is…amazing.

"You wouldn't believe the graphics" - actual line of dialogue
“You wouldn’t believe the graphics!” – actual line of dialogue

The amount of luddite, imaginary computer magic going on in this episode is hilarious, and the misunderstanding of how computers and the internet function is baffling. Go figure that the folks behind “BibleMan” wouldn’t totally grasp the latest technology, given their top-notch mastery of computer generated effects. There are a lot of computer-ish terms thrown around without context in this episode, like this line in reference to the demonic website / game / vaguely evil internet thing (HackEmUp.com):

I went to the site. It was pretty cool. Well designed, lots of fail-safes and duplicate firewalls. Very high security for something like this…

That sounds like they read the back of the box for Norton Antivirus, and figured that’s all they needed to know to write this episode about the evil internet. As you would expect with any BibleMan episode, the special effects are hilariously pathetic. None of the websites look like anything that is actually on the internet, and the sets are as colorfully cartoonish as ever. There are predictably a lot of lasers and vaguely technological effects going on, including a bizarre force-field effect used to indicate that someone’s mind is being controlled by satanic computer magic. bibleman2 As with a number of the BibleMan features I’ve seen, there are a lot of winks to the camera that are played off as gags in “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”. They are clearly aware of the low quality of what they are making, and I suppose they are trying to excuse it by not taking the project overly seriously. However, the jokes are never really funny (despite the attempts), and the offensive portrayals of non-Christians and the very intention of the film to evangelize to children aren’t lost just because they lazily break the fourth wall every now and then. I’m tempted (heh) to say that they would have been better off just accepting what they were doing and playing it straight, because the whole deal is almost guaranteed to be hilariously bad once completed no matter what. Worse yet, the same annoying, jarring jingle is used after every instance of fourth wall humor, which winds up just being grating after a while.

One of the trademarks of the BibleMan franchise is that the heroes will quote bible verses while in combat, or in an attempt to make points in dialogue. This episode has an astoundingly shoe-horned instance of this, even when compared to other instances within the series:

BibleGirl: I’m worried about him (Cypher), and Riley

BibleMan: Me too.

BibleGirl: What can we do?

BibleMan: Well, the Bible says that we shouldn’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for anything you need.

BibleGirl: I know this one! Phillipians 4:6!

BibleMan: That’s right! Then, we need to find out who is really behind this website!

Just to recap that dialogue, BibleMan says to pray about the issue and do nothing else. Then, he says to specifically do something about it. Was that scripture even sort of necessary or relevant there? Even better, the very next scene is BibleGirl spying on Cypher and reporting his activities to BibleMan, after which they confront him. Is that not the opposite of what he (and the bible) said to do? The villains of this episode are unfortunately not standouts in the series. Whereas many of the others are built on horrible stereotypes of scientists, jewish people, russians, etc; these villains are pretty run-of-the-mill cyborgs. I suppose that is because they were hackers? In any case, they don’t have any particularly memorable lines. However, they both manage to suffer pretty gruesome laser deaths at the hands of the Bible gang. If I recall correctly, that isn’t particularly unusual for BibleMan. They usually straight-up kill their antagonists, because that’s what children should be exposed to. The B-villain in this one even has a slow motion gun-drop as he is dying. I guess they want to get the point across that if you aren’t Christian or willing to convert, BibleMan may very well murder you with lasers.

The antagonist, in the process of laser disintegration at the hands of BibleMan
The antagonist, in the process of laser disintegration at the hands of BibleMan

As you can probably gather without me stating it, there is a not-so-vague nefariousness to the BibleMan movies. They are clearly and unashamedly aimed at converting children (specifically younger than 9) into becoming Christian, and encourage the children to pressure their families into converting as well. Worse, the films actively and consistently disparage other religions and lifestyles to reach their ends. This episode in particular recommends that Christians (children and adults) should distance themselves from any non-Christian friends they have, and paints all non-Christians as evil, demonic, or bullies. It is beyond offensive, and is clearly trying to turn children into bigots at the earliest possible age. Even if all of the non-Christians in the episode were as horrible as they are depicted, the lesson should have been to not be friends with them because they are assholes, not because they aren’t Christian. I know some people who won’t watch these films because of how infuriating and offensive they are, but I still get a kick out of how colossally bad their film-making abilities are. These are certainly some of the most incompetent children’s videos out there, to the point that they make “3 Ninjas” movies look downright spectacular. In general, “Lead Us Not Into Temptation” I think is a pretty good introduction to the franchise for bad movie aficionados. This is one of the later ones, so the production value is a bit higher than you might expect. However, the computer / internet plot-line will have most nerds either rolling with laughter or tearing their hair out with frustration, which I suppose can be seen as good or bad. I do wish the villains were better in this one though, but that is a pretty minor gripe in the face of demonic computer magic. At least the bad guys get brutally murdered in the name of the lord!

Here is an abbreviated version of the episode from YouTube:

I highly recommend not paying money for a new copy, but these do show up in used bargain bins pretty often. That is where I usually get them myself, and going that route supports your local video stores and doesn’t support the “BibleMan” creators.

Introducing: (God)Awful Movies

Welcome to a new segment of Misan[trope]y, called [God]Awful Movies!

There has been a bit of a boom as of recently with religious-themed movies in theaters, what with God’s Not Dead, Noah, Heaven is for Real, etc. (and in case you didn’t know, there is a high-budget remake of “Left Behind” in the pipeline, starring none other than Nic Cage). I intend to review some of these here for sure, but my primary focus is going to be on the more obscure features I come across (Mr. T and Corbin Bernsen’s Judgment, for instance). I’m also going to take aim at bad mythology-based movies (Hulk Hogan played Zeus once), sci-fi/religious hybrids (Legion, Constantine, Priest), and much more. Also, BibleMan. There is going to be a lot of BibleMan here.

In the meantime, enjoy this trailer for the upcoming God’s Not Dead knockoff (I hope that doesn’t become a regular thing), A Matter of Faith, which is due to come out in September.

You can read more about it on The Friendly Atheist.