Drag Me to Hell (2009), co-written and directed by Sam Raimi, has a lot to say about shame. Though it’s a wacky, quick-paced supernatural film with just the right amount of camp, the subject matter is particularly heavy: you can try to outrun your shame, but sooner or later it’s going to catch up with you.

Christine (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer, trying to shed both her southern accent and her sweet nature, in order to get a promotion. She denies an elderly Romani woman a loan, who curses her to be tormented for three days before being dragged to hell. But it’s not the denial of the loan that triggers the curse, it’s Christine calling security and embarrassing the proud woman who has knelt begging at her feet. “You shame me!” She exclaims.

And over the course of the next three days, every insecurity Christine has been running from rears its ugly head. She struggles at her job, as she’s just not able to be as ruthless as her coworker, making those “tough decisions.” She fails to impress the family of her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long), who think she is too low class and not good enough for him

 

 

 

And there’s a lot of shame around food. There’s a reading of this movie that it’s about bulimia, and there is a lot to support that. Christine stares longingly into a bakery but denies herself, later to turn to ice cream in her distress. There are a couple of references for her growing up a “fat girl” whereas she is not anymore. So many of the gruesome events of the three days involve various disgusting things going into her mouth.

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And then there’s the cake. When Christine goes to meet Clay’s family for the first time, she’s eager to make a good impression and brings a humble dish to dinner. “It’s a harvest cake,” she explains, to Clay’s bemused upperclass parents, something she would make on the farm where she grew up. When they serve it, she envisions an eyeball staring at her, and she chokes when she tries to eat it.

This cake is such a perfect summation of Christine’s insecurities, around food, around class, around judgement, around shame. I went looking for a cake to make in a small town cookbook I inherited from my grandmother, Our First Hundred Years of Cooking (1883-1983) from the Methodist Church of Mount Holly, North Carolina. It did not disappoint. Adapted from a recipe of Mrs. Hettie Clinton Nixon’s, this is a recipe for Bible Cake, made with ingredients from the good book, with all the fruits and nuts of Christine’s harvest cake and the added benefit of scripture (useful in seances!). A goat features in the film’s seance as well, so to decorate I made little goat cheese eyeballs, watching you from every which way.

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Bible Cake with Goat Cheese Eyes

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup butter, Judges 5:25
  • 1 cup sugar, Jeremiah 6:20
  • 3 eggs, Isaiah 10:14
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, I Kings 4:22
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, Leviticus 2:13
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, I Corinthians, 5:6
  • spices (I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and the seeds of 3 cardamom pods), I Kings 10:2
  • 1/2 cup water, Genesis 24:11
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey, Exodus 16:31
  • 1 cup each chopped raisins and dried figs, I Samuel 25:18
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, Genesis 43:11
  • powdered sugar to garnish

Heat oven to 375, and grease a 9 inch round cake pan.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in the 3 eggs. Separately, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and spices.

Mix together water and honey, add it to the wet mixture and mix well. Stir the dry mixture into the web mixture until just combined. Fold in raisins, figs, and nuts, and transfer to the cake pan.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes until cooked through and golden. Turn out onto a cake plate. Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

For the goat cheese eyes

  • 2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature.
  • 1 cup+ powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • dried fruit for decorating (I used cranberries, blueberries, and raisins)

Whip together goat cheese, powdered sugar and salt. Cool in the fridge for an hour or so, stirring occasionally, until set up and moldable. Add powdered sugar if necessary to get a firm texture. Powder your hands with powdered sugar (and again periodically) and form teaspoon-sized balls, rolling gently, and press a dried fruit into each one. Chill until ready to use, then adorn the cake.

Need more horror-inspired recipes? See everything delectable dish in the Witchy Kitchen cookbook HERE and let us now your own recipes over Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!