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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Communists! Drive-In Movies! The Seven Female Erotic Zones! Estus Pirkle Saves Us

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2012 at 9:30 AM


While the previously discussed Blood Freak is the high point of turkey-themed ultraviolent Christian Scare Film, there are other, non-turkey-themed ultraviolent Christan Scare Films to consider, and none is more considerable than 1971's If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, produced and directed by Ron Ormond and starring a Baptist minister named Estus Pirkle. So let's consider it. (The clips are largely NSFW.)

The printed version of Pirkle's original sermon as well as the film are held in the McCain Library & Archives at the University of Southern Mississippi, which claims that the movie is still shown in Latin America. As with The Cross and the Switchblade, I have to claim ignorance on that question -- who's watching what, and where. Hell, I've never gone south of San Diego.

Pirkle doesn't get straight to the communist stuff, though, and much of his preaching seems to be directed to one of his parishioners, a loose-ish girl named Judy. First, Pirkle tells of the "horsemen" of the title: the evil distractions of modern life, including sex education (we never do find out just what the seven erotic zones of passion in every woman are), drive-in movies, Saturday morning cartoons, and especially dancing, which is just as wrong as it's always been.

But his main thesis is that the communist takeover will happen with jet-age speed if America doesn't come back to God, and right now. The communists will spend all their time bullying Christians, usually by shooting them with machine guns.

And the Christians they don't shoot? They will get dropped onto pitchforks, or rounded up and forced to listen for 17 hours a day to a recording that says "Communism is good. Christianity is stupid. Give up."

Hey, didn't Negativland do a song like that? They sure did, but they based it on a different recording of the sermon, one where Pirkle has a bit more fire in his belly.

In addition to more shootings, the mutton-chopped communists will also behead little Christian boys. And not just any little Christian boys -- oh my God, they killed Dondi! You bastards!

The little Christian boys who get to keep their heads will nonetheless have bamboo sticks driven into their ears. And the women will, of course, be raped.

Not to second-guess Ormond or Pirkle on the story-structure front, but in these clips I've reordered things a bit; the rape scene actually occurs halfway through the lean, 52-minute film, with the beheading presented as the final shocker, which convinces Judy to accept Jesus. Betcha thought she wouldn't get a character arc!

This was neither Estus Pirkle's nor Ron Ormond's final ultraviolent Christian Scare Film, and some of them look downright subtle compared to If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?. One of Ormond's later films, The Grim Reaper, was even dedicated to a major evangelical fundamentalist who was married to my maternal grandmother's first cousin. Am I proud of that? I am so very proud of that, and we'll get to that movie soon.


Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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