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BibleMan: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

BibleMan: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

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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.

“Lead Us Not Into Temptation” was released in February of 2001, and is the seventh entry into “The Bibleman Adventure,” which is the second incarnation of the franchise.

Willie Aames once again plays the role of Bibleman in “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” while also directing, producing, and co-writing the episode. His co-writer was Greg Perkins, who also collaborated with Aames on the screenplay for the earlier episode, “Conquering the Wrath of Rage.”

The villain in “Lead Us Not Into Temptation” is again Luxor Spawndroth, who previously appeared in “Breaking The Bonds of Disobedience,” in which he was notably exploded into many pieces. He is played by Brian Lemmons, who makes his seventh straight appearance as the villain in the show. However, the is the first time in that run that he has reprised the same role. The evil computer L.U.C.I. and his primary henchman Ludicrous also feature alongside him.

In “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” Biblegirl makes her first appearance as an official member of the team after joining at the end of “Breaking the Bonds of Disobedience.” U.N.I.C.E., the supercomputer, and Cypher, Bibleman’s other sidekick, also appear, rounding out the bible team.

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.

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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):

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“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…”

-Cypher, on HackEmUp.com

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.

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The offensive portrayals of non-Christians in this episode are really over the top: essentially, the lesson of the episode is to not associate with any non-Christians in any capacity, because they are corrupting influences. Also, apparently all non-Christians in Bibleman’s fantasy universe are massive dickheads, which is frankly the real reason someone wouldn’t want to associate with those people. The fact that this is a lesson taught to children who watch this show is just backwards and hazardous. Among other things, this lesson is designed to stunt children’s social growth, and deliberate encourages them to have a less diverse social network. The goal is to try to make children shut out any alternate viewpoints and perspectives about the world, which is just…bad. It is just plain bad.

This episode features one of my favorite scripture-related exchanges in the show that I have seen so far, which goes as follows:

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 in that situation?

Unsurprisingly, “Lead Us Not Into Temptation” features another brutal death for Luxor Spawndroth, who is this time evaporated by a deflected laser blast.

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This is one of the few episodes that I had actually covered previously on the blog. I absolutely love this episode, and typically refer to it as “BibleMan vs. The Internet” due to the ridiculous plot. This is one of the first episodes of the show I ever saw, and it made a pretty significant impression on me, though not in the way that the creators intended. I definitely recommend giving it a watch if you can dig up a copy of it.

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.