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Artie Plugg is a minor character actor who acted in a number of minor, forgotten horror movies in the 1970s, including The Haunted Supership (a cheap knock off of The Poseidon Adventure, only with ghosts), Bag of Crushed Child (one of the few horror movies that wasn't an exploitation of something else), Curse of the Child Pharaoh (a way to cash in on the mania surrounding King Tutankhamen that happened in the late 1970's) and The Swampmonster of Harlem (a blaxploitation flick that was as offensive to African-Americans as it was to people who liked movies). He was in over a dozen horror films in that decade, usually playing the stock role of "reasonable authority figure" who is skeptical at first but believes in the supernatural menace as the film goes on. His acting was at times seen as competent if not original: as the first mate of the haunted supership who takes over when the captain is keel-hauled by ghosts, he manages to project a certain steely resolve.

It was the after-effect of his acting that he was better well known for. In 1982, Artie Plugg became an Evangelical Christian and begin to denounce the films he used to take part in. Arthur (as he preferred to be called after his conversion) became a celebrity on the Televangelist circuit by making claims about the horror movie trade that quickly escalated in magnitude. While at first he only claimed that horror movies reflected a violent, sexually depraved culture, within a year he was outlining a conspiracy theory that the producers and directors of these films were actively trying to undermine Christian faith and glorify the supernatural. When the shock value of this wore off, he claimed that horror movies were filmed rituals where actual supernatural entities attacked innocent people as a way to raise dark energies to initiate the apocalypse. Most "mainstream" Evangelicals turned away from him at this point, and when he finally reached the climax of paranoia by claiming that "The Poseidon Adventure" (which he somehow confused with the film he had actually been in) involved actually sinking a fully-crewed cruise ship with thousands of guests on it as part of a demonic ritual, all but the most fringe members of the Evangelical movement disowned him.

This might have been the end of the story, but Arthur Plugg then made another leap. He became a proponent of the new age movement, changing him name to the fairly obvious reference of "Arthur King" and explained that while there was darkness in our culture, the Evangelical Christians choose to exploit it as much as the horror movie producers, and that their obsession with the Satanic had goaded him into making his more wild claims. He moved on to producing a series of films which he claims are "documentaries" where "not-actors" receive the empathetic transmissions of "emissaries of light" to act out "archetypical dramas". What this seems to consist of is people in white togas moving around in front of a green screen of Thomas Kinkade paintings while mouthing new age platitudes, all to the accompaniment of soothing tunes played on a Casio. As cheesy as this sounds, these direct-to-DVD movies make a good trade sold by mail order in the back of new age magazines.

How much of Artie/Arthur Plugg/King's claims were opportunism, how much were mental illness and how much were (just perhaps) a matter of smidgeons of facts is something that we will never know. But studying his life shows the weird zig-zags that American culture and sub-cultures have taken.


13 O'Clock: The 2013 Halloween Horrorquest

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