The collapse of the Soviet Union had more of an effect on Americans than many may realize: Fundamentalist Christians lost one of their most efficient opportunities to win converts. No longer was it as advantageous to vow to smuggle Bibles beyond the Iron Curtain in order to rescue the innocents and the Godless Soviets just didn’t seem as evil as they had before. Now, “hell on Earth”, which would have been brought to us by the commies, was just plain old hell again and the devil would have to collect his souls without the Reds assisting…
But before the fall of the Soviet Union, several notable religious propaganda films were made and one in particular, directed by Ron Ormond and entitled “If Footman Tire You, What Will Horses Do?”, may have been the strangest of the lot. According to The Unknown Movies website:
Ormond survived a plane crash…and as a result of this became a born-again Christian, teaming up with various Baptist churches and preachers (including Jerry Fallwell at least once!) to make movies that would spread The Good Word.
Associating with the Baptist faith, Ormond soon teamed up with the legendary Reverend Estus W. Pirkle, one of the more colorful and outrageous Baptists of his time – maybe of all time. Already, Pirkle had been distributing audio recordings of his fiery sermons in the Baptist community, and it seemed that evolving into the motion picture medium would be the next logical step in spreading his word – as well as making a few bucks in the format. (As it turned out, Ormond left Pirkle after several movies, when he discovered the good Reverend was essentially ripping him off.) One of the first collaborations between Pirkle and Ormond was If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do, an adaptation of one of Pirkle’s most famous sermons, which he had already cunningly converted into book format for Christian book stores. Naturally, there had to be a number of changes to convert it to a movie (especially one that was only about 45 minutes long.) For one thing, the movie right at the beginning essentially asks us to accept the facts that we are about to hear, without learning what sources Pirkle got these facts from. The movie opens with an off-screen voice asking, “Reverend Pirkle, are the pictures we about to see true fact, or are they figments of your imagination?”
Pirkle’s voice responds, “I can document every statement in this film. And all of the documented re-enactments are taken from actually events that have taken place in Russia, Korea, China, and Cuba, where the communists have already taken over. The only difference is that we’re using Americans to emphasize that the same thing can and will happen…. if they take over.”
Thanks to Brian Turner of WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, some short clips of this hilariously disturbing movie can be viewed there.
The entire 52 minute Praise-Be-To-Jesus movie can be found here
It’s worth your viewing time, if for no other reason than to see how silly fundamental Christians could/can be.
And just in case you haven’t had enough of Estus W. Pirkle (what a name to be born with, eh, and with a name like that he could only have been a fundamentalist preacher…or a sock puppet), check out The Burning Hell video, viewable in 8 YouTube parts. Hey, parts is parts!