Carrie and The Forbidden Body

Book cover for Doug's Book is on the left, poster for Carrie is on the right.

Join Thom Ernst, former host of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies, and Professor Doug Cowan, as they explore how religious taboos are portrayed and reinforced through horror film tropes. This special event includes a screening of the classic movie, Carrie, followed by a discussion and Q&A. 

October 6, 6:45pm
Princess Cinemas Waterloo
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October 13, 6:45pm
Playhouse Theatre Hamilton

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October 20, 7:00pm
The Bookshelf, Guelph

Tickets for this location must be purchased in person. Please visit or call (519) 821-3311 for tickets. 


Thom Ernst headshot.

Thom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications and television and radio programs, including CTV, CBC, TVO, CFRB, the Toronto Star, the National Post, Playback magazine and others.

Thom is perhaps best remembered as the host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies.

Currently Thom’s reviews can be read on and He can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.

We can look forward to the publication of Thom’s first book The Wild Boy of Waubamik, from Dundurn Press sometime in the fall of 2023.


Doug Cowan headshot

Douglas E. Cowan is Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison University College. Some of his previous books include Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen , and America's Dark Theologian: The Religious Imagination of Stephen King .


About the book:

Throughout history, religion has attempted to control nothing so much as our bodies: what they are and what they mean; what we do with them, with whom, and under what circumstances; how they may be displayed--or, more commonly, how they must be hidden. Yet, we remain fascinated, obsessed even, by bodies that have left, or been forced out of, their "proper" place. The Forbidden Body examines how horror culture treats these bodies, exploring the dark spaces where sex and the sexual body come together with religious belief and tales of terror.

Taking a broad approach not limited to horror cinema or popular fiction, but embracing also literary horror, weird fiction, graphic storytelling, visual arts, and participatory culture, Douglas E. Cowan explores how fears of bodies that are tainted, impure, or sexually deviant are made visible and reinforced through popular horror tropes. The volume challenges the reader to move beyond preconceived notions of religion in order to decipher the "religious imagination" at play in the scary stories we tell over and over again.

Cowan argues that stories of religious bodies "out of place" are so compelling because they force us to consider questions that religious belief cannot comfortably answer: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why do we suffer? And above all, do we matter? As illuminating as it is unsettling, The Forbidden Body offers a fascinating look at how and why we imagine bodies in all the wrong places.

About the movie: 

In this chilling adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel, withdrawn and sensitive teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) faces taunting from classmates at school and abuse from her fanatically pious mother (Piper Laurie) at home. When strange occurrences start happening around Carrie, she begins to suspect that she has supernatural powers. Invited to the prom by the empathetic Tommy Ross (William Katt), Carrie tries to let her guard down, but things eventually take a dark and violent turn.