Supernatural B.O.


B.O. as in movie box office. Question: Why are theaters currently being ruled by supernatural films? In successive weeks, the top flicks in America have been The Passion of the Christ, Dawn of the Dead, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and now Hell-Boy.

Has there been such a time since the '70s (when Hal "The Late Great Planet Earth" Lindsay battled Erich "Chariots of the Gods" von Daniken and Richard "Illusions" Bach for the title of bestselling author of the decade) in which pious religiosity has given way so quickly to spectacular supernaturalism?

Does it mean something? Anything?

NEXT: Remembering the Code

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  1. Whether you’re religious or not, I don’t see why or how you would take issue with “The Passion” being supernatural.

    As for why there’s so much of this in theatres. It’s simply a byproduct of the soul crushing pain of modern life.

  2. My Review of the passion…

    “Unfunny sequel to ‘The Life of Brian'”

  3. To those of us who aren’t religious – actually, I can only speak for myself – they are one and the same: belief in super-human and supra-human beings.

  4. You could read a “supernatural” twist into just about anything, really. Even easier than a postmodernist reading feminist philosophy into anything. Wouldn’t you agree?

  5. You know, there’s something that really bugs me about the Scooby Doo cartoon show : Half of the villans haven’t actually done anything illegal (unless they live in a state where dressing in a monster suit and shouting “Raaaaggghhh !” is breaking the law), yet they still get arrested.

    Has anyone else noticed this violation of civil liberties ?

  6. Jim,
    Isn’t there some kind of embezzlement going on?

  7. Jim,
    Shush you. Don’t give the LA city council any ideas.

  8. I agree with kwais.
    Except the pirating bit.

  9. Hellboy is looking pretty good …. God knows there’s nothing else worth seeing this month. Is March / April always such a lame time for new movies? I can’t remember.

    Take a look at these weekend box-office numbers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many no-name movies in the Top 10, 20, etc. (Low grosses for the Top 10, too, with the exception of the Jesus & Zombie movies.) What the hell is “Taking Lives”? Or “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?” Or “Secret Window,” “Home on the Range,” “Never Die Alone,” “Miracle,” “You Got Served,” “Dogville,” “My Architect,” “Tais-toi”? An IMAX movie of NASCAR racing is at #16. What is happening to our world??

    As for Jeebus the $330 million dollar man, it looks like Crazy Mel will be the new DeMille of bible porn … now with no sex at all but plenty of Extreme Mutilation! And ABC seems to be switching to an All Bible All The Time format, with the usual Palm Sunday showing of “Ten Commandments” followed by a three-hour (!) Jesus & Paul documentary last night, hosted by Peter Jennings. (I love Peter Jennings’ bible shows. He speaks a little French to an Arab or tourist, gets three “experts” to basically agree the Bible might not be totally perfectly true, visits some sites of biblical legend, and I’m sure manages to piss off 95% of the viewers, who actually believe the Bible stories as Total Fact and don’t care to have some sneering Canadian tell them otherwise.)

    Anyway, a bunch of crappy movies with a supernatural element doesn’t mean anything, as the commenters already said. Besides, those same elements in the hands of talented film-makers can produce wonderful results. Bible mysticism + ghosts + Nazis with a-splodin’ heads = “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

    (Anybody see the new South Park, with a truly insane Mel Gibson hopping around in his underwear & smearing his feces on doorways? It was magical.)

  10. Somebody needs to make a Jesus action movie, maybe based on the old National Lampoon “Son O’ God” Marvel parody.

  11. MADTV’s Greatest Action Story Every Told

  12. MADTV’s Greatest Action Story Every Told

  13. Although I hate to turn this into a movie review:

    I saw Hellboy this weekend and as a fan of the original Mike Mignola comic, I was impressed. There were are few changes made to the story that I felt that they could have done without, but otherwise it was quite watchable.

    Ron Perlman was born to play Hellboy.

  14. See Hellboy if you like genre films enough that you can be a little forgiving of things like plot holes and narrative inconsistencies. If you hold the comic in sufficiently high regard that you’re emotionally invested, though, I’d suggest skipping the film; you’ll probably just end up feeling sad and disspirited.

  15. Is Chucky still alive?

  16. I am available.
    Call my agent.


  17. No.

  18. The Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter films all qualify as supernatural, as do the dozens of horror and SF films that have come out in the past years. Even chick flicks like Ghost and What Women Want carry a fantastic element to them.
    Many of TV’s top rated deal with the supernatural.
    I agree with Todd. It signifies nothing.

  19. Third vote for nothing. I even question your premise. The reason The Passion is such a hit is because so many people don’t believe it’s supernatural.

  20. Here’s what really pisses me off. Scooby Doo on TV was the anti-X-Files. Each week there’d seem to be something supernatural and then those meddling kids would discover it was just a guy in a sheet. Are you telling me they’re messing with the formula in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed? That’s it, I’m not gonna see it.

  21. People like to believe that what they feel, rather than what they do, will determine the output. Wishing don’t make it so.

  22. Todd beat me to the obvious retort: No, it doesn’t mean something, or anything.

    It’s eerie coincidence.

  23. The ghosts have been real even in the Scooby-Doo cartoons since at least the late ’80s. And, yes, it ruins the whole premise.

    As fas as the resurgence of “supernatural” movies goes, part of it is just nostalgia. People who grew up with the 1970s wave of films are now in a position to make their own. As for the rest of it, I wrote a column back in 2002 in which I addressed this matter. Then last year I tried to subject ’70s-retro horror movies to red-states, blue-states analysis.

  24. hellboy kicks ass.

    that is all.

  25. Its because its Easter-time, when the dead rise from the grave and walk the streets. If that’s not supernatural enough, remember all the the eat the flesh-drink the blood rituals. Zombies aren’t just for Haiti, anymore.

  26. Yes, it`s a demand for escapism.I don`t want the cheese anymore,just let me out of the trap!

  27. Nah, it couldn’t possibly signify our cultural bankruptcy, could it? Endless recycling of childrens’ cartoons into feature films? Irrational belief systems given a legitimacy they do not deserve?
    I personally cannot remember a worse time for movies.

  28. Frank,
    The first Scooby-Doo movie already betrayed the rational (if repetitive) formula of the original series by having the spirit-thingy-stealing monsters be real. Scoffed at as that series was, it showed kids the importance of looking behind appearances and being able to discover the man behind the curtain. I haven’t seen the second movie, but the reviews suggest it follows the lead of the first.

  29. Agreed. No. It is meaningless (and perhaps mindless as well)

    And as Larry pointed out, there are whole legions of people who would slap you up side the head for calling the Christ movie “supernatural” or for tossing it into the same category with Scoobie Doo (which is proof that Mencken was right).

    Eye of the beholder and all that.

    Hell Boy kicks ass? It better be about a thousand percent better than the trailers, otherwise I ain’t buying in at any price.


  30. i command you to see hellboy.

    if you dont trust me, trust 87% of professional movie critics! (

  31. I’d love to see the Xmas followup: “The Passion of the Claus” in which Kris Kringle is beaten mercilessly for 2 hours, presided over by the Grinch. Of course, his blood would be on the Whos forever.

  32. List and count the types of movies.
    Do a statistical study to see how often
    the ramdon sampling produces a set of three
    of each type at one time.
    I predict this is statistically insignificant.

  33. Jim:

    In many states*, walking around masked is actually against the law. These laws were passed to thwart night-riders of the Klan and similar criminal or vigilante groups.

    These movies aren’t “supernatural.” They are just stories about worlds in parallel universes with different physical laws. 🙂


    * Southern Poverty Law Center says 18 of them.

  34. yes it means something.

    only those who have the magic ring of crahnkqeqetha may partake of the truth. but these imposing kids and their dog prevented the overly involved complicated plan from being executed. blast them!

    — Captain Nerfherder

  35. It means the same thing it’s meant for the last century plus. The West is becoming less christian, but not necessarily less spiritual or less superstitutious or less credulous of magic. It’s both a good and a bad thing. But ultimately it comes down to the fact that Christianity has trouble standing up to the harsh reality of modernity but nobody’s really figured out what to put in its place yet.

  36. “But ultimately it comes down to the fact that Christianity has trouble standing up to the harsh reality of modernity”

    A classic example of wishful thinking disguised as an objective truth.

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