The girl is freed from her captor, but only at the cost of the life and soul of the young priest: the power of Christ merely served to anger the devil -- it did not subjugate him; such would have been too meaningful in the relativistic climate of the 70s.
The 70's sexual and political revolutions were intertwined to such an extent that hardcore pornography and Feminist politics appeared on the scene simultaneously. While Betty Friedan opposed traditional gender codes in such works as the Feminine Mystique, Debbie was on her way to doing Dallas and Deepthroat was raking in the profits. The cinematic response to this was the slaughter of sexually-active teenagers by homicidal maniacs (evil incarnate), while virtuous and chaste maidens like Jamie Lee Curtis' character in Halloween remained alive just long enough for the evil to be driven away by a male authority figure. Horror films often reinforced traditional gender norms, yet the awesome evil of those films seemed to have no end. With the proliferation of contraceptives as a form of eugenics similar to the kind practiced under Hitler, sex became an act of passion without physical consequences; yet horror maintained that it still had psychological and even spiritual ones. Nonetheless, as Jones shows, the promotion of contraception in twentieth century America by representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation was supposed to be nothing more than the controlling of ethnic populations that were found to be subhuman by WASP elitists (406). The black and Catholic communities, whose uninhibited breeding threatened to undermine WASP political control, promptly received the attention of people like Margaret Sanger and "Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., who used Rockefeller money to fund secret conferences on contraception at the University of Notre Dame from 1962 to 1965" (Jones 147. The idea of Thomas Malthus, that over-population would ultimately destroy the earth, was marketed as the principle behind contraception. The underbelly of the movement, however, was, according to Jones, nothing more than a power play for control.
The extremity of the situation would be explored by Alfonso Cuaron's 2006 film Children of Men based on the novel by P.D. James. Friend of Spanish filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, whose Mimic has been noted in "Good Entomologist/Bad Entomologist" by Jones as a swipe at Enlightenment doctrine being a vain attempt at setting and controlling social mores ("The only solution left is the…prime totem of folk Catholicism, the rosary" -- referring, of course, to the end scene in which Mira Sorvino's character draws blood from her hand with a rosary crucifix to divert the attention of the giant blood-sucking roach, which is about to eat the little boy). In Children of Men, there are no little boys, nor little girls -- in fact, children are gone altogether (a threatening theme that opens Del Toro's Mimic too). The rampant sterilization of modern years is turned into a life-threatening ideology, affecting everyone and all ethnicities. When a woman is found, who has seemingly miraculously conceived, she is caught in the middle of yet another struggle for control -- one group wants to use her as a political poster child, the other wants to legitimately help. Meanwhile, a war is waged in the urban cities, which evokes a kind of apocalyptic message of utter desolation. As Clive Owen's character makes the ultimate sacrifice (his life) for that of the woman and her child's, a sense of hope in the future of mankind is restored -- but the outlook is still bleak and grim -- for no one knows whether the woman and her child will really make it as they disappear into the fog rolling across the open sea. Hope is in the approach of the ship, but beyond that lies -- what? In Children of Men, the fantasy of the "undead" is replaced by the fantasy of the "unborn." The reality of Malthusian sterilization taken to extremes in modern times by social groups across the globe (birth rates are at lows nearly everywhere), sexual liberation has once again become a pathway to political control and to gothic horror genre representations.
In conclusion, the underlying fears of societies since the beginning of the Romantic/Enlightenment age have manifested themselves in a variety of forms depending upon the cultural climate of the time. Beginning with Shelley's Frankenstein as a repudiation of Enlightenment doctrine and going through Stoker's Dracula as a representation of sexual desire and control bubbling under the surface of Victorian prudery, gothic horror has found its way into the mainstream culture with tales of supernatural occurrences that are in some sense connected to the issues of the day. The sexual revolution of the early twentieth century in New York materialized in greater force all over America in the 60s and 70s, launching another series of gothic horror novels and films onto audiences, from Stephen King to John Carpenter, Clive Barker, and Stanley Kubrick. While films like the Exorcist and Children of Men get closer to the reality of spiritual possession and widespread sterility, the human psyche of modern times continues to want to see itself as a kind of "undead" creature, whose reason for being has yet to be determined. Therefore, popular gothic horror icons like Frankenstein and Dracula remain staples of modern horror fiction, representing to the populace a mirror of its own struggles with the doctrine of Enlightenment liberation and control.
Carpenter, John, dir. Halloween. Compass International, 1978. Film.
Cuaron, Alfonso, dir. Children of Men. Universal Pictures, 2006. Film.
Del Toro, Guillermo, dir. Mimic. Miramax, 1997. Film.
Friedkin, William, dir. The Exorcist. Warner Bros, 1973. Film.
Jones, E. Michael. "Good Entomologist/Bad Entomologist." Culture Wars. 2004. Web.
31 Mar 2011.
Jones, E. Michael. Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control. South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press, 2000. Print.