After the misguided morality play of Happy Halloween and the ill-advised treacle of The Little Princess, Jack Chick once again leaps headfirst into the swirling abyss of Halloween insanity with The Devil’s Night. And since the protagonist of this piece is none other than Li’l Susy Barnes, you know we’re in for some vintage Chick madness.
We open with a little girl named Buffy (ooh, take *that*, Joss Whedon!) looking at Halloween decorations with her mom. Buffy finds the whole thing scary, but her mom just gushes on and on about how she loves Halloween.
Later, we see the dreaded harridan Ms. Henn showing a drawing of Satan to her class while informing them that they’re going to spend the day drawing Halloween pictures. “And tomorrow,” she tells them gleefully, “you’ll come to school in costumes.” And the kids go wild! They love the idea! Even the principal, Mr. Harvey, is impressed with how much Ms. Henn’s class loves Halloween, which is kind of odd because I never figured Halloween was that tough to sell. I mean, it’s not like it’s one of those fruity made-up holidays, like Arbor Day or Canadian Thanksgiving.
But rather than bask in her victory, Ms. Henn grouses about the “stone in her shoe” named Li’l Susy.
Li’l Susy, in case you forgot, is being raised by her grandfather, a dashing man with an eyepatch who sits around the house in a tuxedo shirt, drinking coffee. Grandpa is also a devout Christian of the crazed fundamentalist variety, and is the source of Li’l Susy’s irrational hatred of all things non-Jesusy. When Li’l Susy gets home from school, she states emphatically that she’s *not* going to dress up like a witch. Grandpa insists that Li’l Susy MUST obey Ms. Henn, as it commands in the Book of Romans. “But Susy,” he says slyly as he sips his Emerald Espresso Mist Blend, “there’s all kinds of costumes.”
And so, Li’l Susy puts the kibosh on Ms. Henn’s fun-filled Halloween festivities by showing up in a Santa Claus costume. Apparently, in his zeal to condemn the pagan origins of Halloween, Jack Chick sort of forgot all about the pagan origins of Santa. Ms. Henn is so incensed by the passive-aggressive gesture that even her ass can’t help but think about how much it hates Li’l Susy.
After these wacky shenanigans, we get to the meat of the tract. Susy’s friend Buffy (whom we met at the beginning of the story) complains that Halloween is too spooky, and she’s afraid of ugly things like ghosts, monsters, and spiders. And, presumably, Catholics and gay people. She asks Li’l Susy why Halloween is like that, and Susy informs her that Halloween is the devil’s night, “and all the witches love it.”
Well, you know how it is with Li’l Susy. Once she gets in harangue mode, not even Bill O’Reilly could shut her down. She launches into a sordid tale that manages to condense all of Jack Chick’s half-assed Halloween conspiracy theories into a tasty nugget of pure batshittery. It’s like a unified field theory for druids, evil spirits, Satan, witches, human sacrifice, and the Death Lord Saman.
Most disturbing of all is that Susy prefaces her insane diatribe by telling Buffy, “My grandpa explained it to me this way.” And you have to wonder, what kind of responsible adult tells these kinds of things to an eight-year-old girl? Of course, Jack Chick claims that this is a “children’s book,” so I can only hope his visits with his own grandchildren are closely monitored by Social Services.
Anyway, it all started in old England, according to Grandpa (who might need to have his medication adjusted). The people lived in fear because they were a bunch of filthy pagans who hadn’t heard about God yet. And a group of satanic priests, known as the druids, were in control.
Every October 31st, Saman (the Lord of Death) would unleash a bunch of evil spirits to terrorize and torment the poor, dumb pagan bastards. So the druids would light huge fires and dance around them in masks and animal costumes to drive the restless souls away. Because if there’s one thing wicked spirits can’t stand, it’s interpretive dance.
As payment for their services, the druids would go door to door, demanding Skittles and tiny Snickers bars. If the family couldn’t spare any food, the druids would take one of their children instead. Either way, they would leave behind a Jack-o-Lantern to show that the family had paid, because receipts hadn’t been invented yet.
At this point, Buffy is so horrified by Susy’s tale that she physically transforms into Gollum! But Susy’s just getting warmed up.
You see, Susy’s story isn’t just a tale of ancient terror. That kind of stuff still goes on this very day! Evil druids are abducting children and sacrificing them on Halloween, Susy explains, which is why kids should never “go off by themselves or go anywhere with a stranger.” So forget all those after-school specials you may have seen about sexual predators, because apparently those were just clever lies made up by the druids to throw people off their trail.
Anyway, all those druids and witches will end up in hell, but Susy’s glad she won’t because her Grandpa told her about Jesus. I’m glad he found the time to slip the occasional Bible lesson into his blood-drenched bedtime stories about demons and human sacrifice. Of course, Buffy has no idea what she’s talking about, so Li’l Susy gets her proselytizing finger to wagging.
We learn how Satan got his ass kicked out of Heaven by Jesus. In retaliation, he tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God, thus condemning the entire human race to Hell. Only Jesus, who is actually God (in much the same way that Bruce Wayne is actually Batman, I guess), came up with a clever and needlessly circuitous plan that involved coming down to Earth in human form, letting Himself be crucified, and then coming back to life. Admittedly, that last part was the tricky bit, otherwise any one of us might have been able to pull it off. But somehow, by doing that, He was able to keep Himself from casting us into Hell, because His blood washed away our sins or… something. To be honest, the whole story stops making sense when you look at it too closely. Kind of like Lost.
But fortunately, Buffy has no problem buying into Susy’s labyrinthine theology; she gets saved and instantly loses her fear of vampires. As she and Susy do their Christian Dance™, Li’l Susy brags about her brilliant plan to “reach lots of kids on Halloween night.”
“What we do is really neat!” Susy exclaims with far more enthusiasm than the situation warrants, because it turns out that her cunning scheme basically involves handing out Chick tracts to trick-or-treaters. Frankly, I’m disappointed that Chick didn’t show Susy reading The Little Princess and getting the idea from there, because a Chick tract about somebody reading a Chick tract about somebody handing out Chick tracts would be more awesome than Rush Limbaugh’s death rattle!
And… that’s about it. Jack wraps things up by informing us that “Halloween is the devil’s night,” and asking whom we will follow: “The old devil who’s going to hell? Or JESUS… who loves you?” And even though it’s obviously a rhetorical question, Chick apparently doesn’t think his readers are smart enough to figure it out, so he includes a helpful Bible verse to point them in the right direction.
Got it. Thanks, Jack!