Tag Archives: abortion

John Carpenter’s PRO-LIFE turns abortion into a pro-choice horror story that is still relevant


It’s been around 50 years since the landmark case of Roe v. Wade was decided in the Supreme Court, where it was ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a woman’s right to have an abortion. An aggressively controversial point of contention since, it has once again stoked the fires of discord after Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion on a potential repeal of the decision was leaked to the public. The abortion rights forecast is looking grim, based on Alito’s draft, and America is getting ready for a big blow to women’s rights that will undoubtedly change the social, economic, and cultural landscape for years to come.

Horror thrives in these historical moments. There’s still nothing quite like substituting social fears with monsters that represent the chaos people can wreak upon themselves while defending or attacking something they hold so dear to their being. In the case of abortion, one need look no further than John Carpenter’s Pro-Life (2006), the legendary director’s second entry into the Masters of Horror anthology series that aired on Showtime.

Pro-Life centers on an abortion clinic that receives an emergency patient (played by Caitlin Wachs) whose pregnancy is revealed to have been the result of a demonic rape. The young woman is desperate for an abortion. The baby starts to grow at an alarmingly rapid pace, an affront to nature and all that’s expected of a standard pregnancy.

The patient’s name is Angelique Burcell, later to be revealed as the daughter of resident religious fanatic Dwayne Burcell (a menacing presence interpreted by Ron Perlman). Dwayne has a history of protesting outside the clinic and is shown to be a staunch supporter of American gun rights as well.


Dwayne hears a Biblical voice, a voice of authority and force, that compels him to protect his daughter’s baby. He takes it as God calling to him to enact His will. The voice’s origin, though, might be coming from the side that stands opposite to holiness. In comes the horror metaphor for abortion.

Based on a script by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan, Carpenter takes good care of the pieces he sets up to help get the point across. The movie’s abortion clinic setting carries a certain visual charge that immediately turns the location into a political battlefield. The place is locked up behind a gate and it’s overlooked by a security guard, all imagery that communicates the constant threat of extreme religious violence.

That threat is felt the moment Dwayne Burcell arrives at the clinic, with his daughter’s armed brothers riding in the back of his vehicle. Ron Perlman puts every available ounce of religious malice into his character in the service of presenting a man that’s been blinded by his faith to the point of confusing having control over someone for good intentions. The contradiction he upholds lies in his self-argued need for guns to do God’s work, which flies in the face of his own beliefs on the sanctity of human life.

Perlman’s cold and calm demeanor brings this unstable set of principles to the fore in a commanding way that exalts his misguided goal regarding human life. In his mind, taking someone else’s life is justified if it’s to guarantee a new life gets a chance.


The voice Dwayne hears becomes more important in this context. In certain decisive moments, where doubt rears its ugly head, a deep and not so angelic voice is heard saying “protect the baby.” Dwayne lets it guide his sons, and his gun, into the clinic. The metaphor here doesn’t really need that much heavy lifting in terms of making itself clear as the politicization of abortion has already been well documented.

Pro-Life uses what the audience already knows to provide a more terrifying look into the consequences of subscribing to the entire anti-abortion discourse. It doesn’t treat its audience as ignorant on the issues. It just turns to horror to add a sense of urgency to the problem and why it still deserves our attention. Sometimes, simplicity is scary enough.

The pregnancy itself follows suit, with the baby revealed to be a spider-like demon that makes a considerably strong case for being terminated well before it came to term. Carpenter takes the opportunity to show how unsustainable the pregnancy is for Angelique, the mother. The demon baby thrashes around inside her belly, all but guaranteeing the mother’s death upon birth. It’s a detail that contrasts well with Dwayne’s bent on ending several lives inside the clinic to save one new life. In this case, the demon baby’s grandfather has accepted the potential death of his daughter for the survival of the baby, meaning he gets to decide who lives and who dies between the two.


This might be where the movie’s metaphor hits the hardest. Carpenter tugs on every story strand and pulls every character arc together to show there is no such thing as pro-life. The very act of creating life, in whatever context, is founded on the concept of choice. In cases where a pregnancy can prove fatal to the mother, a choice between who lives and dies must be made.

In essence, Dwayne becomes the embodiment of the right to choose. And he chooses the demon baby.

There’s a lot left to say about Pro-Life. Dwayne’s beliefs contrast heavily with current discussions on whether abortions should be allowed for victims of rape or for risky pregnancies that put the mother at risk. This is a very delicate part of the debate and it seems to be leaning in favor of the pro-life sector. The presence of Angelique’s brothers also complicate the scenario as they decide to participate in the same violence Dwayne partakes in to “protect the baby.” It puts into question the role family plays in creating a religious identity infected by partisan politics and how damaging it can be when the relationships within the unit are so unequal (especially in terms of the rights available to them). Pro-Life invites discussion and relishes in it well after the movie’s over. As the American Supreme Court seemingly prepares to override Roe v. Wade, John Carpenter’s Pro-Life becomes an unconventional ally in the fight for women’s rights. It proves that sometimes it necessary to go to Hell and back to better appreciate our most important freedoms.

Black Widow Meets The Abortion Access Front

“Every woman we meet in this story has been sterilized without consent.” – Moji Alawode-El

“When they can make choices they choose compassion” – Kat Green

Two professional feminists who are basically superheroes themselves join me to discuss Marvel‘s Black Widow movie. We talk espionage, fight choreo, reproductive justice and a good jumpsuit.

Kat Green is the Managing Director and Chief Mechanic at Abortion Access Front.  Before joining AAF, Kat worked as a producer, editor, and shooter for film and TV productions around the world. Somewhere along the way, she also designed databases, built a spaceship in her basement, and learned to drive a truck with air brakes. 

Moji Alawode-El is a recovered ad exec and current Marketing Manager at AAF. She loves yoga, reading sci-fi by femme people & people of color, roller skates and talking really loudly about her abortion and everyone else’s reproductive rights in public spaces. 

Learn more about Abortion Access Front https://www.aafront.org/

Both Netflix and Disney Threaten Georgia Boycott Over Anti-Choice Law

Two big studios have finally spoken out on the anti-abortion legislation signed into law in Georgia.

Netflix is the first major studio to speak out about the recently signed law. Other smaller ones have threatened boycotts or enacted them. Netflix has produced shows like Stranger Things and Ozark in the state. They said they would “rethink their investment in the state.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger also spoke out this week saying it’d be “very difficult” for the company to continue filming in Georgia as well following up with “I rather doubt we will.” He cited the fact that many people wouldn’t want to work in the state. Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame were both filmed in the state. Kristin Bell‘s upcoming Disney+ series Encore was to film in the state.

I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully.

I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.

– Bob Iger, Disney CEO

The law doesn’t go into effect until January and faces numerous court challenges. Disney said they will currently continue production there but also said they will support partners and artists who choose not to do business with the state.

In 2016 when Georgia signed a religious freedom bill that was criticized as anti-gay, Disney was vocal when it came to a proposed boycott of the state.

Dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” the law signed by Governor Brian Kemp bans abortion after six weeks, a short time period that many don’t even know they’re pregnant. It also would allow the prosecution of anyone who seeks an abortion out of state and anyone who helps them. It’s one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States.

The movie industry brought more than 92,000 jobs to the state in 2018 through 455 productions infusing around $2.7 billion into the local economy. The state offers tax incentives up to 30 percent back which has drawn production to there.

The state is already losing money over the law. The Kristen Wiig upcoming comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar has pulled out of the state and will no longer be filming there. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are donating their salaries from productions in Georgia to help fight the law.

The MPAA hasn’t taken a stand and is waiting to see how court battles play out.

Two Production Companies Take a Stand Against Georgia’s Abortion Law

Keep Abortion Safe and Legal

David Simon‘s Blown Deadline Productions and Killer Films CEO Christine Vachon have both pledged to no longer shoot in Georgia so long as their “heartbeat bill” aka abortion ban stands as legislation.

The legislation was signed in to law on Tuesday by Republican Gov. Bill Kemp and bans abortion after a heartbeat is detected which can be as early as six weeks. There are exceptions to save the life of the mother or for rape and incest but only if a woman files a police report. Most don’t. The law goes in to effect in January.

Some have threatened to pull production from the state if the bill was signed in to law and at least two in Hollywood are standing by their word.

The MPAA isn’t taking much of a stand as they have said they are watching the courts to see what the final outcome is. A similar law in North Dakota in 2016 was overturned by the Supreme Court but with a right-wing shift of the court, it’s unknown if that decision may change if it goes before the court again

Georgia has tax incentives of up to 30 percent back which brought in 455 productions to the state last year with $2.7 billion in direct spending. There’s about 92,000 jobs in Georgia for film and production.

The Walking Dead, Ozark, and Stranger Things all shoot there and Marvel has used Pinewood Studios in Atlanta for some of their film productions.

Doonesbury Abortion Censorship Watch

We reported on Friday that popular political comic strip Doonesbury was being pulled by numerous newspapers this week over it’s taking on the attack on women’s rights and issues like being forced to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound before an abortion.  We’re two strips in and I’m scratching my head as to what the problem with the strips are (then again, I am a damn dirty liberal/hippie).

Warning, these panels do ruin each strips punchlines.

Monday’s strip possible offenders…..

Have to like that Scarlet letter A.

Tuesday’s possible offenders….

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau discussed the censorship and strips with the Washington Post on Sunday.  In why he hopped into the debate Trudeau responded:

To ignore it, would have been comedy malpractice.

Choice Quotes

Bookmark and Share

Here’s this week’s quotes showing that comics aren’t just for kids anymore.  Everything from war and abortion to free speech were touched upon.

DMZ #51

Liberty News 24/7 – A special session of Congress has convened to petition the United Nations, a body that the United States was forced to quit at the start of the war, for support in a renewed mission to not merely contain the Free States movement…. but, in the words of an unnamed source on the senior staff, “To defeat them in the fullest military sense of the term.”

Ex Machina #48

January – It skeeves me out whenever a dude tries to parlay any kind of success into a political career.  There’s only one reason guys like that get into Government.  It starts with “p” and ryhmes with “pussy.”


January – Then what’s his angle?  I mean, are there any issues he even cares about?  I’ve just seen that one commercial where he spouts a bunch of platitudes about building bridges.  Like, how pro-choice is he?

Journal – I don’t know actually.

January – You don’t know where he stands on abortion?

Journal – I’m not a single-issue voter January.

Green Hornet #2

Metro Staffer – Deanley just passed Scanlon in the latest poll.

Britt Reid – By how much?

Metro Staffer – Twelve points.  You sure you wanna continue to back the lame-duck Mayor in his re-election bid?


Britt Reid – That’s not what I’m talking about, Frank.  I’m talking about their sizable donations to your re-election campaign.

Frank Scanlon – They’re entitled to their opinion on who’d they’d like to see running this city just like everyone else, aren’t they?

Prelude to Deadpool Corps. #5

Deadpool – Dude, this is a recipe for a spaceship in the face.  No way.  Don’t you remember Tiananmen Square, that guy standing in front of the tanks?  This is our chance for the Intergalactic History Books.  A lone hero against the might of an imperial–

Unwritten #11

Lizzie – It was a novel written by a Jew from a Jewish perspective.  It became the most successful anti-semitic movie of all time.

Tuesday Twitter Fun – Whaling, Glenn Beck and Abortion

It’s a decent week of Twitter posts on a range of subjects.

Comic book writer Ben Templesmith has two this week.  One covers his thoughts on whaling and the other about Delegate Bob Marshall’s statement on abortion and disable children.  You can follow him at http://twitter.com/Templesmith.

Ben Templesmith on Whaling and Sushi

Ben Templesmith on Delegate Bob Marshall

One of the men behind Lost and some time comic book writer Damon Lindelof asked for some political action to get his latest podcast posted.  Follow him at http://twitter.com/DamonLindelof.

Damon Lindelof Encourages Political Action

Ron Marz, who’s no stranger about speaking his mind, decided to comment on Fox television personality Glenn Beck.  You can follow Ron at http://twitter.com/ronmarz.

Ron Marz and Glenn Beck

Friday Fun: Magical Mike (Dukakis)

Bookmark and Share

Today is the first entry in our “Friday Fun” series of historic political comic books.  Today’s entry comes from the 1988 Presidential race.  The comic book is called Magical Mike and was created by Dick Hafer, and was endorsed by Jerry Falwell and Republican Party.

The comic book tells “the ‘real story’ of Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee for president.  Includes jabs at blacks, gays, women (including Dukakis’ wife) – also attacks the sick, the poor, foreigners, peacemakers, and others, connecting Dukakis as the common link.”

Jerry Falwell encouraged his entire congregation to distribute the comic books and the Republican party made sure to include a copy on every delegate’s seat during the 1988 Republican convention.

Here’s some of the highlights:

Michael Dukakis coverMichael Dukakis page 4Michael Dukakis page 8Michael Dukakis page 9

You can catch the comic in it’s entirety here.

Thanks for http://www.ep.tc/ and it’s amazing collection of these fantastic nuggets of history.
« Older Entries