1. A subgenre of Horror that relies on presenting the motifs of a real-life religion as fact within the story's universe. In Western examples of this subgenre, that religion is normally Christianity. Satan is the Big Bad in a typical Religious Horror story, although he's rarely shown. He is mediated through a human vessel, such as a Creepy Child or a degenerate rock musician. Sometimes Satan is not much or even at all present in the story, but is instead a distant force of evil responsible for the actual Big Bad in the story. The protagonists are usually innocent people trying to live ordinary lives, not sensing anything wrong until their daughter or son starts speaking in someone else's voice, using foul languages she or he never studied, spewing Finnish pea soup, and/or chanting Satanic praises. Members of the clergy (most likely the Catholic variety; in this case it is justified by the fact that the Catholic church, of all the few that employ exorcism, is the most noted, although it does so very rarely) intervene eventually, with varying degrees of success. If there are human villains, they're evil cultists who facilitate the Devil's activity on Earth (or, rarely, the Puritans of Salem, Massachusetts, if the author is less favorable toward organized religion in general). A variation is a woman giving birth to Satan's child. This type of horror is often written just to cash in on the popularity of The Exorcist. Another perspective, more common in recent years, is an inverted one, that of how God Is Evil; the fire and brimstone Disproportionate Retribution aspects of the Old Testament god are built upon to depict Him as the Big Bad. God Is Evil stories have an overlap with the Cosmic Horror Story, as God is often described as alien, omnipotent, invincible and whose nature is impossible to ever comprehend, in a very Lovecraftian style. Our Angels Are Different is usually in effect. 2. Occasionally, the story revolves around a Religion of Evil that has nothing to do with Satan, which may or may not replace him with a Satanic Archetype or an Expy in the form of a God of Evil. Even if these are more imaginative in their concepts than the Christianity-based works, they are not necessarily more bizarre. 3. Very rarely, you get a film that actually bothered to do the research, and includes horror either from the point of view of some religion other than Christianity, or more commonly, have another religion as an antagonist (or even more rarely, do both). In the former cases, even if the movie itself is bad, the concept is very interesting. In the latter case, it ends up a variant of type 2, with the added problem of sounding like something from Chick Tracts. (Alternatively, the "enemy" religion can be shown to not be bad in and of itself, with the problems primarily being caused by a group of whackjobs taking it WAY too seriously, although this again veers into Type 2 territory.) See also Cosmic Horror Story, which, as said previously, tends to show up in type 1. If a Cosmic Horror Story's Eldritch Abomination is worshipped as a god, then the story can fit into the second type. See also The Bible.
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Anime and Manga
- Angel Sanctuary, which is also a subversion in that the demons are neither good nor evil and the Big Bad is God Himself.
- Blue Exorcist is one where the main character is Satan's son who sets out to kill Satan after he kills his adoptive dad.
- Chrono Crusade was meant to be this, with the main character being an exorcist, but while still a wonderful story, is it not as scary as it was intended to be.
- For Western audiences, Neon Genesis Evangelion primarily because it takes Christian/Jewish symbols traditionally associated with good (crosses, Angels, haloes, etc) and uses them in what is otherwise a Cosmic Horror Story.
- The manhwa Priest by Hyuung Min-woo. BIG TIME.
- The right half of the Sistine Chapel's altar painting sees dozens of life-like characters drawn with all of Michelangelo's expertise being dragged into pits of fire by hideous demons, with terror plain on all their faces.
- Many of the early one-shot Hellboy stories revolve around this, particularly The Chained Coffin. Has become less prominent in recent years, as subsequent story arcs have revealed more of the Hellboy-verse's cosmology, which is more like a mix of Gnosticism & 1920s weird pulp fiction than Christianity.
- Spawn derives heavily from Christianity although it later brings in All Myths Are True. The most obvious example is the use of God and Satan Are Both Jerks in the Armageddon storyline, which takes the concept to nightmarish levels. God and Satan are literally exactly the same: both of them are vicious, sadistic, petty monsters who regard humanity as nothing more than toys for them to break. At the end of the storyline, the devout Grandma Simmons can only spit vehement denials as to God's claims to be God, weeping that the "evil, monstrous child" cannot be the benevolent saviour she has believed in all her life.
- Garth Ennis's infamous Preacher, which is heavily influenced by Ennis's disdain for religion. The Judeo-Christian God is a vindictive coward who willfully encourages the worst aspects in his followers, and cruelly manipulates peoples lives to fit with his plans. He's also only Omnipotent while sitting on his throne in Heaven, which bites him in the ass when the Saint Of Killers finally ambushes him and kills him.
- Lady Death in its original incarnation featured Judeo-Christian elements with the main protagonist is a damned soul that usurped Lucifer's throne and became ruler of Hell, but not before being cursed with being trapped there unless if all humanity is wiped out. The following Armageddon would be a plot-point with Death clashing with the Forces of Heaven and the treasonous elements of Hell given this comic was published during the turn of the Millennium, but after 2000, the comic was rebooted as a Dark Fantasy that downplayed several of the religious elements with the demons and angels being present, but the setting wasn't necessarily Hell anymore, but another afterlife plane that was neither good or evil.
- Batman villain Deacon Blackfire, who originally appeared in the miniseries The Cult, wasnt originally Christian, but when he reappeared in The New 52 (the original Blackfire died when his cultists turned on him and tore him apart) he had been changed into an evangelist leading a cult out of Arkham Asylum. This version is also killed by his followers when he refuses to kill himself to prove his piety.
- William Blatty's The Exorcist, as noted above.
- Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby is the iconic story of a woman giving birth to The Antichrist. Who later turns out to be The Anti Antichrist
- The Omen (1976). Because of this movie, many people think that the name Damien means "demon." It actually means "tame," which is used in the story in the sense meaning "kill."
- Babylon 5:
- In the direct to DVD movie: The Lost Tales, a maintenance worker is possessed by what is implied to be a literal demon — specifically not the devil, rather a lower ranking servant. Colonel Lochley calls an exorcist. Subverted because the demon wants to be exorcised... in space, aka "The Heavens". Lochley and the exorcist instead decided to ship his ass back to Earth first.
- Given that B5 Earth has been visited by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens at least once for a sufficient timespan to leave their marks in the human genome in the distant past, whether the 'demon' was a literal one or whether literature in turn and the practice of exorcism were inspired by events caused by him and his friends—whatever kind of entity they might 'really' be—hanging out on the planet since who-knows-when remains somewhat inconclusive.
- The Backstory of B5 does seem to imply that demons were memories left behind by The Shadows.
- Alien³ focuses on Ripley crash landing on prison planet Fury 161 filed with XYY Chromosome only prisoners, who are using religion as a means to redeem themselves for their dark history of rape, murder, kidnapping, drug dealing, torture, assault, and child molestation. The Alien in this film comes off as more demonic and controlling than the ones from the previous two films, even mind raping prisoner Golic, an already disturbed man into aiding it escape a trap. Although most of the religious horror comes from the much longer Assembly Cut of the film, to add to it Dillon compares the Alien to a herald of the apocalypse, and later in the film Ripley agrees with this, stating that if the alien ever got loose on Earth, it would be devastating. In the infamous unmade Vincent Ward 'wooden planet' version it's outright said that the Alien is a demon, and the ending blatantly rips off The Exorcist with the character of Brother John dying exactly like Father Karras did, he even 'exorcises' the Alien out of Ripley. To say this would've outraged fans far more than the final film ever could is an understatement.
- The Devil's Advocate featured Satan (Al Pacino) in the form of the head of a New York law firm, and the protagonist (Keanu Reeves) as his son.
- Constantine, the In-Name-Only movie adaptation of Hellblazer. The main villain is Mammon, the son of the Devil, and Catholicism is shown to be almost entirely correct.
- The House of the Devil deals with a babysitter and a group of Satanists.
- In Zombie Cult Massacre, a sleazy cult leader pretends to be a compassionate man of God but is really in league with Satan, raising an army of zombies. It does not end well for him.
- The Prophecy and its two sequels, The Prophecy II and The Prophecy 3: The Ascent. About another war in heaven with Christopher Walken (who's creepy enough even when he isn't acting) as the Archangel Gabriel.
- John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, about a bunch of theology students trying to stop the Anti-Christ from releasing his father, the Anti-God. It's a fun exercise with or deconstruction of the Religious Horror subgenre, because most of the characters weren't theology students. Instead they were scientists of one kind or another, four or five of which were under the direct tutelage of a physics professor who had been selected for a series of televised debates with a Catholic priest because of his philosophical beliefs on science. Those debates happened before the story begins, and the two characters seem to be very good friends when the movie starts. To be fair, when speaking of said professor, one student said that "he wants philosophers, not scientists," so it is a little open to debate or interpretation.
- The LDS-made film Brigham City uses elements of religious horror based on the LDS faith and puts them to work quietly in the background. This makes the film jarring to members of the LDS church without being over the top.
- Also the LDS-made WWII film Saints And Soldiers, in the context of Deacon's hallucinations (the only character implied to be Mormon). Understandable in that he accidentally killed a room full of orphans under the age of eight (and thus not accountable for their actions, making them unquestionable innocents) and a couple of nuns with a grenade while fighting Germans in a church, and is only being held together by his faith and desire to return home to his wife as he's dealing with his PTSD.
- The Shrine has an interesting twist. At first, the viewer believes the small Polish village is involved in Satanic rituals with Human Sacrifice, but it turns out that they are only exorcising the tourists who unknowingly approach a demon statue that possesses them
- Sin Eater, also known as The Order, starring Heath Ledger.
- Stigmata, starring Gabriel Byrne as the protagonist, Father Andrew Kiernan.
- End of Days, starring Gabriel Byrne as The Devil, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the protagonist Jericho Cane, a retired cop.
- The Seventh Sign, starring Demi Moore and Michael Biehn
- From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, based on the comic book series of the same name.
- Bless the Child, starring Kim Basinger
- Angel Heart has some really creepy religious elements. It turns out at the end the entire plot was orchestrated by Satan himself, who hired Johnny Favourite to condemn himself to Hell.
- The Possession is all about this. This time, it is with a Jewish theme.
- The Sentinel (not to be confused with the 90's tv series or the unrelated 2006 film): A woman moves into an apartment building that turns out to house the gates of hell.
- Valhalla Rising, one of the many interpretations of the film has the Christians being punished by the Gods of nature for killing their worshippers.
- [REC]: While the infection certainly has a biological aspect, the end of the first movie strongly suggests, and the sequel confirms, that Demonic Possession also has a part in it.
- Eye of the Devil revolves around a Town with a Dark Secret — namely, it's a Satanic cult. The cult has taken on much of the iconography and symbolism of the Catholic Church, including black masses that look a lot like the regular Mass, and the use of crosses and Christian symbolism for their human sacrifice.
- The Wailing starts as a thriller taking place in a small Korean village, but the crimes are quickly rumored to be caused by something supernatural, and a catholic priest as well as a shaman are called to defeat the source of the evil that has cursed the town. The director studied both Christianity and Korean shamanism thoroughly to be the most accurate possible, so that when the Japanese man reveals his true nature to the priest, followers of both religions would see him as the ultimate evil.
- Holocaust 2000 (one of several films following in the wake of The Omen), which revolves around The Antichrist being born at the end of the second millennium and utilizing nuclear technology to bring about the apocalypse.
- Witchfinder General is a Religious Horror movie in a religion-gone-bad sense rather than in a supernatural demonic horror sense. Indeed, there are no demons, devil cults or any supernatural evil at all. Instead, the main driver of the horror is the fanaticism, corruption and cruelty of its main villain and title character, a Witch Hunter who engages in horrific torture and burning of innocent people for witchcraft.
- Dennis Lehane's Darkness, Take My Hand features a trio of serial killers who model themselves on the Holy Trinity and crucify all of their victims before killing them.
- The Cthulhu Mythos often falls into the Religion of Evil version below, but even its official stance is this. There is no God, nor is there a Devil. There are entities of tremendous power such that humans would call them divine and deific, but these entities, due to their power, have no more concern for humanity than humanity as a whole would care for a dust-scurrying bug. Morality is a human creation, and humans are most certainly not special. Humanity must make worth of their own life, they have no inherent worth as a race.
- Also, more traditional gods do sorta exist, but only in the mystical Dream Land created from humanity (and all other sentient life)'s collective unconscious.
- There is a creator diety known as Azatoth who is responsible for creating our universe, but he's not sentient in the traditional sense, and exists as a formless mass of chaos outside physical reality. He's refered to as the "Blind Idiot God".
- Parodied in the Gaiman-Pratchett collaboration Good Omens.
- David St. Clair's The Devil Rocked Her Cradle, an ironically enjoyable book that should probably not be sold as nonfiction. A young man kills his father, bruises a prostitute, rebels against his Catholic upbringing, becomes a thief, and hears demonic voices. He grows up to be an abusive husband whose daughter goes through on-and-off Satanic possession, especially after her newly widowed father starts living with his wife's sister. This leads her to projectile-vomit green stuff, recite Madness Mantras, and gesture obscenely at nuns and priests. (The book's preface even includes the pricelessly redundant line, "[T]his book is not intended to be anti-Christian or pro-demonic.")
- Jeffrey Sackett's Candlemas Eve, a fun fiction novel about a rock band that adopts two self-proclaimed witches to add something unusual to the act (plus, Evil Is Sexy). They turn out to be time-traveling Satanist Puritans who assumed the identities of two modern-day women because of some kind of curse that forced them to please Satan after their deaths. A faux-Satanic rock musician's kid and his friends let them in by casting a spell on Halloween.
- John Saul's Punish the Sinners is a subversion: the villain is not Satan but the principal of a Catholic high school.
- Older Than Radio: M.G. Lewis' Ambrosio, or the Monk subverts this trope.
- Petaybee: Shepherd Howling's Nightmare Fuel cult is heavily influenced by Christianity, most evidently in the title "shepherd".
- Arthur Machen's The White People is a vastly more subtle example than most. The story combines The Fair Folk, Eldritch Location, Ultimate Evil, and Children Are Innocent with references to classic narrative poems to create a covertly religious horror tale. However, the frame story, in which one gentleman discusses the "infernal miracle" with a friend of his, reveals that Satan is afoot in the woods explored by the young heroine.
- Robert Anton Wilson's The Masks of Illuminati reads like a rather moralistic Religious Horror story right up until the very end, but if you're at all familiar with Wilson's other works, you should know that things aren't going to be that simple. Lets just say that it takes the Unreliable Narrator to new heights.
- The Blood Of The Lamb starts out rather mild, with a priest (Peter Carenza) discovering that he was cloned from the Shroud of Turin, and as a result had the power to heal, walk through fire unharmed, and even raise the dead. But, after killing his best friend of jealousy, his personality becomes much darker, and by the end he manages to scare the ever-loving shit out of a pair of Jesuit assassins, kills the Pope, and has pretty much become the
toponly candidate for the Anti Christ.
- Many of Frank Perretti's novels have elements of this, one of the most prominent being, The Visitation.
- Graphic depictions of Rapture fiction like Left Behind and Christ Clone Trilogy series can easily become this, whether intended by the author or not.
- Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger is a very cynical take on this trope and, depending on one's interpretation of it, can also be considered a huge Take That! at Christianity.
- Black Sabbath's War Pigs was originally written as "Walpurgis," which was recorded but never released. Hence, why "War Pigs" contains references to witches and Satan.
Mythology and Religion
- The Big Finish Doctor Who audio "The Devil's Armada". Priest holes, Catholic persecution, demons, imps and the Devil himself.
- KULT is a good example.
- Vampire: The Masquerade had strong elements of casting Kindred as the Damned, starting with vampirism itself being a manifestation of the Curse of Caine, the first murderer. The very idea of Gothic Punk that Vampire codified was half-based in the visual elements of decaying cathedrals. Of course, this was dialed Up to 11 with the Gehenna supplement, and the majority of scenarios end with God himself passing His judgement on vampirekind in some way (the only one that doesn't is instead about Lilith and Caine). The clearest possible example comes from the "Wormwood" scenario, where God sends a red star and miasma down to Earth to wipe vampire-kind quietly off the Earth, and only a handful of vampires are Chosen to take refuge in a broken-down cathedral for forty days (a metaphor for Noah's Ark) and prove that they are worthy to be allowed to live as humans.
- The Binding of Isaac is about a young boy (the eponymous Isaac) who hides in a basement filled with horrific creatures and Christian symbolism in order to escape his fanatical mother, who believes God wants her to kill Isaac as proof of her faith.
- Doom features an invasion by the forces of Hell, who among other things love to Sigil Spam the faces of the Barons of Hell everywhere and have an Unholy Cathedral dedicated to whatever they worship. The Icon of Sin can be assumed to be something like Satan.
- Bioshock Infinite features a very twisted but still recognizable version of Christianity. Father Comstock claims an angel came to him with an order from God to build Columbia, a hyper-Christain-American xenophobic flying city that doubles as a superweapon, and use it to cleanse "the Sodom below". Since then he has tried grooming his child Elizabeth, who is repeatedly referred to as "the lamb", to complete his holy task. Warped religious imagery is found throughout Columbia, most of its citizens are more than willing to kill and be killed if Comstock tells them to, and Comstock has total control over the government. The entire story only happened because an alternate version of Booker severely misunderstood the concept of baptism. Whereas Booker saw baptism as the fresh start it's supposed to represent, Comstock saw baptism as "all my sins are justified by God, and nothing I do is wrong".
- Trauma from The Evil Within is a hulking monster spawned from Ruvik's religeous frustrations. Think The Incredible Hulk with it's arms nailed to a plank, and wrapped in barbed wire (crucifiction and a crown of brambles, which tells us the religion Ruvik's frustrated with).
- The Testament of the New Ezekiel in Outlast II, who are a religious cult of fanatical, child-murdering Christians possibly driven mad by a Murkoff experiment who kill every child that's born in the cult in order to prevent the birth of the Antichrist.
- The Lords of Shadow Castlevania games have this as a central pillar of the story. The main character, Gabriel Belmont, is part of a christian warrior group called "The Brotherhood of Light", and the plot of the first game is about Gabriel trying to revive his dead wife and restore Earth's displaced connection with the Heavens which prevents dead spirits from moving on. It even turns out that the main antagonist is Satan, who appears in physical form in the story. His main goal is to gain the power of an artifact known as the God Mask, which he believes will allow him to challenge God, his father, as retribution for casting him out.
- Like its sister series, Umineko: When They Cry deals with this, only rather than Shinto it revolves around Western occult lore. Most notable are the Stakes of Purgatory (who all represent the Seven Deadly Sins), and the various demons from the Ars Goetia.
- We Know the Devil presents the inverted perspective discussed, though it seems to follow the more conventional form at first. God is described as an oppressive, stifling presence who demands that the queer protagonists cast one of their own out for merely being a little worse. The devil, on the other hand, wants the characters to be free of the expectations forced on them. In the true ending, the characters embrace the parts of themselves they were taught to hate, and cast off their earthly forms, becoming the three worst girls since Eve.
- Silent Hill: Promise seems to be crossing into this, especially in the church.
- While it's not immediately obvious, quite a few SCPs are clearly Judeo-Christian entities, such as Dr Clef's proposal for SCP-001, an angel guarding the Garden of Eden.
- The angels in Requiem Aeternam are hungry.
- The Fear Mythos gives us the Archangel, which is basically the ultimate perversion of Judeo-Christian beliefs regarding God and the afterlife.
- In Heaven, a man dies and learns that eternal life in Heaven may not be all it's cracked up to be.
- Five Visions of the Ascetic introduces us to a future version of Christianity devoted to the brutal weekly execution of a criminal codenamed "the Ascetic," who dies for our sins.
- The Tumblr blog aptly titled Religious Horrors often features So Bad, It's Good Fan-Art which try to do these as a crossover
- The Backwater Gospel features this with the town's priest decides that the Undertaker will only go away once someone dies... so they need to make someone die.
Religion of Evil examples
- The original version of The Wicker Man has nature-worshiping pagans living on a small island in northern Scotland. The protagonist is a devout Protestant, and a bit of an asshole, but by the end, he's become very sympathetic.
- Interestingly, the ending of the original was almost meddled to have it start raining, putting out the wicker man. This was cut because it clashed with the whole point. A deleted scene showed that the sacrifice worked but it was deleted to leave the ambiguity in place.
- Also interestingly, it arguably falls under an intersection of the first category and the third; the historic Celtic pagans, which the islanders claim to be, are recorded—admittedly by the Romans Caesar and Strabo—to have used "wicker man" sacrifice in the event of a bad harvest. It is certainly less disputed that the Celts practiced human sacrifice. There is a departure from what even the Romans record, though, in that there was no requirement that the sacrifice be a virgin or a representative of authority; indeed, it seems that the peoples who practised this custom sacrificed criminals and delinquents whenever possible.
- Children of the Corn featured a cult based around "He Who Walks Behind the Rows," revealed at the end of the story to be a demonic-looking monster. In the movie versions, it's revamped to be an entire, nearly omnipresent (within and around the town) spirit whose influence increases when it starts to get dark. Though it is implied to be a devil-worshiping cult, it is never outright stated to be a demon OR Satan. It's referred to with pronouns by those who don't worship it. The Dark Tower eventually revealed that He Who Walks Behind The Rows is another name for Big Bad Randall Flagg, who is also the main villain of The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon.
- The Cabin in the Woods has a backwoods redneck torture family who worship pain itself, as well as Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain, who appears after the two surviving members of the Five enter the complex under the woods. Plus, y'know, the old pagan gods who the Five sacrifices are intended to placate in the first place.
- Not exactly treated as a religion of evil, but Voodoo is not framed in the best light in The Serpent and the Rainbow.
- The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow follows the examination of a photo containing possible evidence of a Greco-Roman cult in Northern Ontario, connected with the disappearances of over one-hundred children. Though not Satanic in nature, the cult is explicitly presented as anti-Christian.
- Craig Skipp's and John Spector's The Scream, a novel that uses the Satanic Panic as a backdrop. The novel revolves around the titular rock band, which is accused of being Satanic, but actually serves a demon named Momma that the band's manager met in Vietnam.
- William Gladstone's Cat's Cradle, which is about an ancient cult whose religion revolves around Half Human Hybrids. The cover is pure distilled Nightmare Fuel, and the novel itself is extremely violent.
- The Warhammer 40,000 setting occasionally veers into this; there's an entire chapter of the Inquisition devoted to hunting down Daemons and banishing them back to the Warp, supported by a specially-trained chapter of the Space Marines.
- Said Space Marine chapter number is 666.
- The entirety of the Imperium of Man has religious overtones, from the ten-mile-long space cathedrals with broadside guns to the priests that inspire the Imperial Guard to heights of courage to the flamethrower-wielding power-armored nuns.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse features the religious tradition of the Black Spiral Dancers, a tribe of evil werewolves who worship the Wyrm (the god of decay and destruction). As a rite of passage, every member of the tribe walks through the Black Spiral Labyrinth, a spiritual dimension that leads them through through the Wyrm's broken mind and corrupts their body and soul. Book of the Wyrm and Chronicles of the Black Labyrinth provide information on Wyrmish theology and the elaborate pantheon of totem spirits, Urge Wyrms, Elemental Wyrms, and their Maeljin Incarna.
- Some human Wyrm cults, such as the Seventh Generation and the Pretanic Order, borrow heavily from Black Spiral Dancer tradition.
- The Silent Hill games have this for the nameless Type 2 cult that summons/awakens the town's latent evil. In the third game, when the deity/demon "the order" worships appears, the main character whimpers "This is God?" While the series have seen various forms of this "God," the cult's main deity figure is probably merely a result of the cult being in the town and having partially hijacked its psychic power to manifest people's subconsciouses — especially the dark parts.
- Xenogears has an entire Religion of Evil to start, but it goes From Bad to Worse towards the end when you discover Deus, creator of humanity, is a malevolent interstellar weapon who created humanity to repair his organic parts.
- Somewhat closer to Type 1, Deus, despite being responsible for creating most of that planet's human population, turns out to be a false god. The real "God" shows up in the form of the enigmatic "Wave Existence", who created the whole universe... apparently by accident, which, in some ways is even more terrifying, especially since he has no particular interest in His creations & just wants to go home. He's not a bad guy, though, & does help our heroes along eventually.
- Resident Evil 4, the Los Illuminados cult mixes this with traditional zombie-styled horror.
- Bloodborne features the Healing Church. Despite being visually based off Gothic and Christian imagery, the Healing Church worships the Great Ones and uses magic blood that can cure any ailment to control the city of Yharnam, killing dissenters and being indirectly but knowingly responsible for the Scourge of the Beast ravaging the city. Turns out the Great Ones are good-hearted and want to help humanity ascend to their level, but the Healing Church has long been abusing their gifts and the Great Ones themselves to keep power.
- The Tal'darim from Starcraft II is an ancient Protoss cult that knowingly worships Amon and expects him to hold his part of the bargain and ascend the strongest of the Tal'darim into hybrids. Subverted in Legacy of the Void: They (Except Highlord Ma'lash) had no idea Amon was not going to keep his word. Once they find out, they pull a HeelFace Turn.
- Again, the SCP Foundation have a few of these, most notably SCP-231-7.
- Archangel from The Fear Mythos embodies this for all religions. He is the afterlife and the only way to not become his slave after death is to sell your soul to the Slender Man.
- This was also a central theme of The Refugees, a Slenderblog revolving largely around a Fundamentalist Christian sect who believed the Slender Man was an angel. It was the central theme of supplementary story The Transcend Manuscript.
Other Religion examples
Anime and Manga
- Ankoku Shinwa (a.k.a. Dark Myth) blends Japanese Mythology, Buddhism, and Hinduism together as the living incarnation of Maitreya gathers the Imperial Treasures to stop the return of Susanoo, here an Eldritch Abomination made of dark matter.
- Ghost Hound becomes a Shintō variant of this, as emphasis shifts to the town's Mystery Cult and its transfer of power.
- Hell Girl is one with Japanese Buddhism and other Japanese folklore with the titular character sending people to hell, showing them karmic nightmares, because someone wrote their name on her website.
- The Taiwanese film Double Vision is a religious horror in a Taoist setting.
- Jigoku, a very graphic depiction of the horrors of Buddhist Hell.
- Feng Shui (not to be confused with the tabletop game of the same name) is a movie of Taoism in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. A woman finds a ba gua mirror, which brings her luck, though the source of her good luck is a tradeoff, sacrificing her neighbors and loved ones in order to bring her material fortune.
- Ghouls (2008) is from the perspective of Celtic Druids.
- A Wolf In The Soul presents a werewolf story from the point of view of Orthodox Judaism.
- The mysterious Water of Heaven cult in Fujiko invokes this. While the miniseries' horror focuses mostly on the violence of the titular character, cryptic references made to the sect from the first episode foreshadow this trope. It is eventually revealed that Fujiko's aunt Shigeko arranged for Fujiko's parents' murder, to take in Fujiko, and to collect her insurance money over the years to donate to the sect and curry their favor with. In her attempts to tie up loose ends, she has also killed Sakiko (grand-niece and fellow believer, whom she similarly raised), Hatsuyo (fellow believer and co-conspirator), and possibly Michiko.
- The New World of Darkness is full of this in all flavors and varieties.
- Evil religions, mad cults, etc? They're all over the place. Vampire: The Requiem includes Belial's Brood (vampire satanists who basically worship the principle of becoming demons) and the Church of the Crone (who are player-character faction). Mage: The Awakening has the Seers of the Throne, who deliberately subvert and manipulate existing religions to make them into tools of spiritual oppression. Demons and Mummies can actually found cults for their own purposes. Werewolves can technically be these, due to their connection to the spirits.
- Perversions of existing religions? Well, how can one not acknowledge the Lancea et Sanctum, a Christian "cult" created for and by vampires? Or the existence of Joe Beal, aka "Blood of the Lamb", an Abyss-worshiping Thrysus who Awakened due to his obsession with his own interpretation of Christian doctrine as a cannibalism-glorifying Blood Magic theology, with Jesus Christ as the Apex Predator, and whose Awakening involved torturing and eating Jesus?
- The world simply not working in ways that religious faiths teach? There is no canonical evidence that a benevolent god of any kind exists. Spirits are ravening, near-mindless elemental forces that exist only to propagate themselves and which would be considered evil by any human. The closest things to candidates for the Abrahamic God are the Principle and the God-Machine. The former is strongly implied to be a mindless, universal force, a "god" of creation and destruction in much the same way as Azathoth is a god. The latter is a techgnostic Demiurge that either has a Mythosian indifference to humanity as anything other than raw materials for its hardware, is completely batshit insane, or both. Even the "holy miracles" of the Malleus Malleficarium have implications they come from decidedly less than holy origins.
- The Wii survival horror game Cursed Mountain plays with the taboos, traditions, and underlying horrors of Himalayan Buddhism as its central theme.
- Ditto with the Fatal Frame series, especially with the first and second titles. In Shinto, some deities are malevolent and must be placated, but the All-Gods Village take it to a whole new Squicky level, with a Human Sacrifice ritual gone horribly, horribly wrong. It's like a follower of an Abrahamic religion having to fight his or her way through an entire village of Satan-worshippers.
- With the exception of Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the series feature Human Sacrifice in order to keep some sort of Hell Gate sealed up. Fatal Frame 2's sacrifice is probably the least Squicky of the examples (Fatal Frame 1 involves a Virgin Sacrifice being torn apart by ropes attached to her legs, arms, and neck. Fatal Frame III is much worse.)
- Except that in the second game there is another ritual that must be performed if the first can't be done for some reason. It involves torturing an outsider to death with the clear intent to cause as much suffering as possible for the Hellish Abyss to be temporarily placated.
- To generally clarify, the Shinto religion doesn't deal with death and afterlife all that much in Real Life, leaving those matters to Buddhism. The shrines seen in the games are obsessed with dealing with the line between life and death, and this alone will seem eerie to the original intended audience. Of course they implicitly don't have much choice; the portals weren't created by humans, they only try to keep them under control.
- Also, like in the Higurashi example below, the rituals in Fatal Frame get pretty gory, which does not fly with Shinto at all.
- With the exception of Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the series feature Human Sacrifice in order to keep some sort of Hell Gate sealed up. Fatal Frame 2's sacrifice is probably the least Squicky of the examples (Fatal Frame 1 involves a Virgin Sacrifice being torn apart by ropes attached to her legs, arms, and neck. Fatal Frame III is much worse.)
- Blasphemous: Sinister religions and sects of many sorts play a great role in the game's story. As laid out by the setting's backstory, the various monstrosities you face are all warped in mind and body, but all of their faiths are still intact, and play a part in what they do. And many of them are twisted parodies of icons, acts and rituals of these faiths, all drawing parallels to real life counterparts to be even more unnerving.
- Although most western viewers (and probably the rest of the non-Japanese audience too) don't get it, part of the horror of Higurashi: When They Cry for Japanese viewers comes from the Shinto temple with a history of human sacrifice. Shinto places a high emphasis upon "purity", and shedding blood in a religious context is anathema to Shinto, as is touching corpses and bodily wastes. That Rika's ancestors presided over ritual sacrifices in which the participants ate the intestines of the victims makes their religion as much an inversion of Shinto as Satanism is an inversion of Christianity. To western viewers, it's merely disgusting. To believers in Shinto, it's beyond blasphemy, much like sacrificing a pig on the altar of the old Temple in Jerusalem. For added irony, Oyashiro herself is not happy with it.