THE "PRIEST" THEY CALLED HIM

Written by ZigZag

 

Priests are forever being called in to save the day, but nobody really thinks of them as heroic. They sometimes get a pat on the back and a "Thank you, Father", but never the proper accolades for saving the child in peril or for sending the Devil back to Hell. With Father's Day upon us, let's take a moment to salute these men in black who did their best, even at great personal cost.

THE GOOD

The Exorcist (1973)

Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller) give the demon Pazuzu a solid taste of God's wrath. Merrin signs up for a rematch with the devil he beat in Africa years ago and is all business when it comes to beating that unholy ass for the big JC. Merrin is all heart, but Karras has his doubts. Together they work to save the soul of a pretty little white girl and what thanks do they get? Honestly, Karras even manages to help Lt. Kinderman stop the Gemini killer (Exorcist III) in a twisted way and no one even knows he is participating.

While not as impressive as either Merrin or Karras, I'd like to extend an honorable mention to Father Lamont (Richard Burton, Exorcist II: The Heretic) for wandering in and figuring out how to work Dr. Tuskin's "synchronizer" machine without instructions in order to defeat the pesky Pazuzu.

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

This franchise has too many priests and sequels to count (nine so far, I think), so I will stick with Father Delaney (Rod Steiger) for his efforts to bless the Lutz house in the face of angry flies. I would also like to give a shout-out to Andrew Prine (Father Tom) in the prequel Amityville II: The Possession, for general awesomeness.

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Prince of Darkness (1987)

An unnamed priest answers a mysterious call and finds himself surrounded by the Devil's goo in a church full of strangers on the eve of the Apocalypse. Donald Pleasance looks in the mirror but doesn't like what he sees in this John Carpenter classic.

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The Omen (1976)

Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) tries to warn Ambassador Thorn about young Damien's place in history and doesn't even get a "Thank you, Father" before receiving more than a few sharp words for his efforts.

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The Fog (1980)

Hal Holbrook is the delightful Father Mallone, a man consumed by the culpability of his forefathers. He's actually a bit of a buzzkill considering he wants to cancel the town's birthday party just because he discovers their founding fathers were a bunch of greedy double-crossing leper killers.

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Dead Alive (1992)

Father McGruder (Stuart Devenie) will be the first to tell you that he kicks ass for the Lord. Genre fans will be more than happy to watch as this kiwi priest punishes countless dead-heads in the name of God.

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Stigmata (1999)

Father Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne) works a special detail for the church, a "miracle investigator" if you will. He travels the globe checking out the strange and unusual but is not prepared for what he finds when he pays a house call to Patricia Arquette. In 1999, Byrne proved he was capable at more than simply making clothes appear rumpled, as he went from playing a dedicated priest to a glib Satan that battles Schwarzenegger in End of Days within just six months!

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The Rite (2011)

Anthony Hopkins is the unorthodox Father Lucas, a man who spends his days chasing demons through Italy, until one finally chases him back. The film is a lot of fun up until Hopkins plays possessed and then things are a little embarrassing. He never goes full Van Helsing, but his tummy's stuffed with scenery before the credits roll.

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The Sentinel (1977) | The Unholy (1988) | The Church (1989)

The list of benevolent clergymen who have fought the good fight is legion. For the sake of brevity, here are a handful of honorable mentions grouped together on a holy cinematic crusade. A trio of priests selected for less than thrilling tasks includes the blind Father Halliran (John Carradine) keeping watch for evil in The Sentinel (1977); Father Michael (Ben Cross), who is tasked with taking over a parish where two of his predecessors were ritualistically murdered at the altar in The Unholy (1988); and Father Gus (Hugh Quarshie), who must face the Italian Apocalypse when a demonic epidemic spreads from beneath his parish in The Church (1989).

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) | The Last Exorcism (2010) | The Blob (1988) | Phantasm II (1988)

Not all priests can be totally awesome when it comes to fighting evil, as witnessed by the following quartet. Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) stands trial for a failed attempt to exorcise a demon in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), and Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) learns it's not nice to fake a holy ritual in The Last Exorcism (2010). When the well-meaning Reverend Meeker (Del Close) takes a hit to the face, he turns to a new god in The Blob (1988), and Father Meyers (Kenneth Tigar) learns a powerful lesson from The Tall Man in Phantasm II (1988).

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From Dusk Till Dawn (2006) | The Prophecy (1995) | Signs (2002)

Before moving on to study the dark side, I want to acknowledge three men who lost their calling only to face an unbelievable challenge that would bring them back to God. Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) wanted nothing more than to enjoy a quiet vacation with his family, but ends up searching for his faith in a wretched dive bar full of surprises in From Dusk Till Dawn (2006). Detective Thomas Dagget (Elias Koteas) finds himself second-guessing his decision to leave the church when he meets God's army of warring angels in The Prophecy (1995). Our final faithless father is Reverend Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), a widowed family man facing alien invaders in Signs (2002). All three of these gentlemen stood up against evil forces to the best of their abilities and are better men for it.

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Click 2 or Next below to continue onto the not-so-good priests!

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