Since the dawn of film Biblical narratives have been interwoven with cinematic experiences, including the ten plagues. The Ten Plagues cursed not only the Egyptians of the Bible, but have carried on in celluloid variations to sicken movie goers as well. According to the Book of Exodus, God deployed ten plagues on Egypt to convince the Pharoah to let the Israelites go. With this plaguely plethura and Hollywood’s ability to endlessly tweek formulas, some scripts almost (miraculously) write themselves.
Although some of these films may not have been the most contagious, they just go to show that the Bible and other mythological disaster stories seem forever relevant to pop culture. If you have ever wanted to experience the plagues first hand perhaps it’s time to pop in one of these old favorites — consider it a less traditional Bible study.
1. Water to Blood
One of the more spine tingly plagues- the turning of the Nile river into a blood bath for all the fishes and farmers alike- sounds like a thriller flick already. This plague has appeared in supernatural and horror films time and time again in such family favorites as Nightmare on Elm Street and the Amityville Horror II: The Possesion.
The second plague occurred when Aaron called all the frogs to congregate in Egypt before all being killed by the Pharoah. Problem solved right? Not quit yet. In 1972 George McCowan made the film by the same title- Frogs- the second curse on humanity with an amphibic name.
The third plague happened as Aaron struck his staff to the sands of Egypt and all of that dust turned into irritating gnats. If you have ever wondered how annoying those gnats would be, I suggest William Friedkin’s 2006 Bug . Although we never see any actual bugs, there’s enough fly paper to plaster a lunatic’s bedroom and we’re pretty sure our main characters are plagued with…something itchy.
Similar, but slightly more annoying than the previous plague Flies is number four. This proved to disappoint after thinking the pharoah had finally let up, only to have the plagues continue. This sentiment may have been shared by David Cronenberg in his 1986 movie The Fly.
5. Beasts killed
We meet the fifth plague of pestilence and the killing of livestock in a particularly unforgettable scene in The Godfather. When one Hollywood executive, Jack Woltz, wakes up with an unexpected guest in his bed, that is if a decapitated horse can be considered a guest.
6. Incurable boils
Another dust induced plague, boils or skin disease, seems like a really bad fate. But the news gets worse with unknown director ‘Rusty Nail’s’ 2005 Acne. This is a rare instance where the actual plague may be preferred to its filmic counterpart.
In Egypt there was fire and thunder, in Wolfgang Peterson’s The Perfect Storm there was one tiny boat and one really big wave. There’s also a really good storm in Jan de Bont’s 1996 Twister if you don’t have your sea legs.
Don’t let John Schlesinger’s 1975 Day of the Locusts fool you into believing it would be about locusts; it is in fact a tale of young Hollywood love. The only movie to include locusts is obviously Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 favorite The Ten Commandments. This may in fact be hitting one bird with ten commandments.
The choice film to feature darkness, the ninth plague, is inconspicuously Pitch Black. David Twohy’s 2000 sci-fi action thriller (with the tagline “Fight evil with evil”) The Chronicles of Riddic: Pitch Black. Bon appetit.
10. Loss of the First Born
Curtis Hanson’s 1992 The Hand that Rocks the Cradle reflects just how devastating this final (Thank God) plague can be, and why one should always background check their nannys.