‘Trailer Park of Terror’ and God’s Undead Warriors
Morality is evangelical Christianity’s greatest concentration. So what happens when a group of undead rednecks take that morality in their hands and become warriors of God? Steven Goldmann’s 2008 film, Trailer Park of Terror, happens. The titular terror begins when Norma (Nichole Hiltz) plots revenge on the trailer park that she lives in after watching her mother and her boyfriend murdered by its residents. After committing a mass shooting, she sets fire to the park and herself, eradicating a string of horrible memories.
Decades later, when a group of troubled teens seeks shelter in the trailer park, it’s a renewed Norma that plays greeter. The very people who made her life a living hell are now her army of the undead—for the past 20 years, she has massacred anyone who comes across her trailer park.
The teens are from a Christian ministry led by Pastor Lewis (Matthew Del Negro), currently on a retreat to begin the path to better themselves. Bridget (Jeanette Brox) is a goth girl with an abusive past who does whatever she needs to feel love. Michael (Ricky Mabe) is a gay individual whose homosexuality is undergoing conversion therapy. Tiffany (Stefanie Black) is an addict. Jason (Cody McMains) is a porn addict. Alex (Ryan Carnes) has anger issues. Amber (Hayley Marie Norman) is…well, never really given any other character traits aside from being Alex’s object of sexuality.
The troubles of these teens are what Christianity in the South views as “not of the Lord.” Their battles are treated as sins throughout the film. The repercussions for these sins are splattered everywhere as their innards are strewn all over the screen.
Tiffany’s drug addiction and use of sexual favors to obtain her highs end up with her arm sawed off, and being devoured alive by one of the undead. Jason lives out a porn fantasy that finishes with a broken back. Michael surprisingly gets ignored for the majority of the film, but ends up being caged just like religion is attempting to cage his sexuality—then run over. Later, Amber and Alex are being forced to have sex on camera for the undead. When Norma and the undead are done with their condemnation, Amber is filled with compressed air. Alex is filleted and then cooked in burning oil.
Norma and her undead rednecks aren’t the epitomai of godliness. Instead, they act as demons whose goal is to drag these “helpless” teens to Hell. This violence is a mirrored image of how evangelical Christianity would view these teens. Their worth is of no value to a community where righteousness is held high—so it’s off with their heads, arms, and genitals.
The teenagers never get a chance to approach their issues in association with care. Instead, they meet horrible demises as an ultimate, callous judgment. If you’ve ever attended mass, you more than likely heard the preacher promise that God would condemn an individual for whatever sins they committed. These sins created by God usually resulted in death. Sin itself was also rarely addressed in a personal manner. It was a secret that you had to keep to yourself, and any counseling on that sin was usually met with an abridged version of the sermon that you just heard.
There was never any true help from elders in a church. It was simply an “ask for God’s forgiveness, and all is done” sort of deal. The teens in the film may have just returned from a retreat in which they faced their sins and asked for that forgiveness, but their elder—like most—had sins of their own. Pastor Lewis succumbs to Norma’s sexuality. While in the act of sex, Norma’s face begins to slide off, revealing her true undead self. This revealing of Norma’s rot coincides with Pastor Lewis realizing he’s in the thralls of his own sin. Instantly, he loses his sex drive. Norma—upset that this is happening—acts as the punishment for sin. She rips his head off.
Norma’s stance as leader of the undead raises an eyebrow. She’s inflicting the same sort of physical, mental, and sexual abuse inflicted upon herself prior. It’s at this point that we can attribute Norma’s dealings to those of Lot’s daughters in the book of Genesis. Lot offers his two virgin daughters to a group of ravenous men in Sodom—they escape any harm, but in turn for his “godly” offering to the ravenous men, Lot’s daughters get him drunk and sleep with their father.
This may be a harsh comparison. It definitely isn’t a way to heal one’s self of the trauma experienced in the past, but it’s the Old Testament way. If Norma isn’t representing that part of the Bible’s aesthetic then she’s definitely representing God’s viewpoint that any sin must result in the utmost suffering. Mercy isn’t her game—isn’t that the evangelical Christian way, though? The sins of the one placing judgment do not matter. The only sins that matter are those that they feel they can have power over.
In defense of Norma, she does grant mercy on the final teen standing, Bridget. As the gang of Norma’s undead congregation advances on her, she screams for them to kill her. “All I ever wanted was to be loved for who I am! For me, God damn it! Not just some Goth whore who gives it up! So I try to fix things and this is what I fucking get? … Fucking kill me, you bitch! And thanks for the favor!” In sympathy, Norma grants actual Christian mercy to Bridget at that moment. “Pretty girl…you go on home.” But not without that heavenly warning that all sinners must remember; “Tell ’em Norma sent ya.”
Norma’s final warning to Bridget is a replica of God’s warning to his followers. God brought upon multiple terrible things within the Bible: plagues, a flood that wiped out the majority of the world’s population, and sending bears to maul kids. The difference between God and Norma is that Norma had more of a reason to cause such pain and torment on innocent souls. Undead Norma committed her acts in a sordid sort of retribution. Biblical God was just a nasty charlatan.