Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Watch Christian Movies Online (sort-of)

So Radiant God has a post about a website where you can watch Christian movies for free. Entitled Higher Praise, the site also hosts sermons, sermon illustrations(literally thousands of those little Paul Harvey-esque stories that ministers sometimes favor) and worship music, in addition to films. Naturally, I was excited, although I questioned the legality of such a site. Normally, Christian movie producers are even worse then Hollywood in keeping the profits of their movies close to the vest, so I was skeptical of anyone saying they could put up Christian movies for free. So I wandered around the site for a few minutes, and this is what I discovered. First, there is no way any of this site is legal, as much as I think it should be. They have a lengthy and confusing "Terms of Use" page that defines their operation as similar to a library, and their belief that they are covered under fair use. All well and good, and I support this concept, but so far none of the copyright holders or courts have supported this interpretation of the law. Second, the site is about as ugly as possible. Horrific colors, HTML to make your eyes bleed, and gawdy advertisements everywhere. It looks like the kind of site that you might find if you are searching around for the most illicit, immoral and illegal kinds of things that you might want to find on the internet. Finally, the movies that it promises are not what they seem. It promises the entire "Prophecy" series of A Thief in the Night, A Distant Thunder and Image of the Beast. Instead, all three movies link to a different movie, Years of the Beast. The 10 minutes I watched make it look as awesomely bad as the other films, but it does make the site seem pretty fishy if they are pulling a bait and switch with movies like this. I'm really interested in copyright law and media sharing in this digital age, but this site is a perfect example of everything that Hollywood and other movie producers are afraid of. It diminishes anything that is hosted there, and claims it all under "fair use." Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

5 comments:

duckbill said...

jonny,
Good call on the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of this site.

There is a fourth film in the "Thief In The Night" series... I think the title is something similar to "The Prodigal Planet", but I could be mis-remembering.

And "Years of the Beast" is awesomely bad in its own right, with even more corny dialogue, an even thinner shoestring budget, and even more underwhelming (or is it less 'whelming'?) special effects. You definitely should check it out if you can find it. I stumbled across it on another site a few months ago (maybe GodTube? but I don't remember for sure--might not have been legal either now that I recall).

And if you go for this vein of insanely cheesy '70s and '80s "classic" Christian cinema, make sure you check out "Rock: It's Your Choice" at some point--it is well worth the watch! Also, the original version of "Hells Bells" (called "Rock and Roll: A Search For God") is much, much more entertaining, with lengthy segments about backward masking and much more in-depth criticism of random musical groups. Of course, there is "The Cross and the Switchblade" (with Erik Estrada--Ponch himself!) and a whole host of other more 'reputable' titles from that era, which are still a hoot to go back and watch.

jonnyflash said...

We watched all 4 of those films in my Christian high school. I try not to mention "The Prodigal Planet," since it is so, so bad. The others aren't great, but they have their merits, unlike that one.
I'll check out "Years of the Beast."

I'll look for "Rock," but "Hells Bells" is awesome! The best movie we ever watched in Bible class, even if we laughed more than anything else.

Awakenpictures said...

I just checked out the site there and I noticed that a number of the movies they are showing are available to watch for free on TBN's Video Gallery
http://tbn.org/index.php/8/1.html

I wonder if they're interconnected somehow.

Awakenpictures said...

I just checked out the site there and I noticed that a number of the movies they are showing are available to watch for free on TBN's Video Gallery
http://tbn.org/index.php/8/1.html

I wonder if they're interconnected somehow.

duckbill said...

When I looked at the site yesterday, I did notice the URL to the movies page does have the word "trinity" in the extension. I think the TBN connection (however tenuous) is a safe assumption.