When Christian crusader/writer/director Franky Schaeffer sent members of his faithful to see his bloody revenge film “Wired to Kill,” he stirred up some unexpected fire and brimstone.

The son of the late theologian Francis Schaeffer and an evangelical author and conservative political activist in his own right, Schaeffer’s been using the Christian media and his own mailing lists to tout the pic as a “philosophical statement” about standing up for what’s right.

What his flock witnessed was a low-brow sci-fi actioner from American Distribution Group, said Times reviewer Michael Wilmington, who added that it’s “a wretched kill-or-be-killed vendetta saga” in which two teens in 1998 find ingenious ways to knock off hoodlums who murdered a relative and threatened their lives.


Some of Schaeffer’s followers were even less charitable: “I felt betrayed because I took four very close Christian friends,” said Robin Armstrong, a member of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, when contacted by Outtakes. “I was furious; I was outraged. I say shame on Franky Schaeffer. There’s nothing about the film to distinguish it from any of the other grade-B psycho thrillers coming out of low-grade distribution houses. It’s just another cheap revenge vigilante movie. There is no justice and fairness and sense of godliness in answering evil violence with more evil violence.”

Rich Buhler hosts a talk show on Christian radio station KBRT, where Schaeffer plugged the picture shortly before it opened Nov. 14 (and before Buhler saw it). It has since become the hottest topic of listener calls (about 95% negative, Buhler said).

“If I just wandered into a theater and saw it without knowing who made it, I would’ve come away saying to myself, ‘Wow, whoever made that is a very violent person who just wanted to vent himself on celluloid,’ ” said Buhler.

Added a colleague of Schaeffer’s, recalling the underwhelming reaction at one screening: “Within the first 20 minutes there must’ve been 50 or 60 walkouts. What I kept hearing all evening was, ‘I bet Francis is rolling over in his grave.’

“I’m surprised Franky thinks it would be accepted by those folks. It seems his perception of what Christian people would enjoy watching is out of touch with reality. I’ve heard that some people listened to the KBRT interview and went to an R-rated movie for the first time in their lives because they thought it would be safe. Were they surprised.”

Christian rock singer Steve Taylor called the flick’s revenge theme “anti-Christian” and “something I couldn’t put together with Jesus talking about turning the other cheek and loving those who spitefully use you. It’s one thing to go out and make a film like that, but to use the Christian media to try and enlist Christian support for the thing is absurd.”

Schaeffer’s publicists said he was back East and unavailable for comment. But producer Paul McGuire claimed surprise at the brouhaha: “Historically, when people show up and resist a totalitarian regime or group of criminals, that’s the greatest thing a person can do--I mean, that’s courage itself. Anybody who finds it controversial to stand up against evil. . . . It shouldn’t be controversial to take a stand and, if the police aren’t helping you, to defend yourself. And I think it really parallels what’s happening right here in L.A.”

He surmised that many of the critical Christians were out of touch with filmic “art” and “may have been blown away because the last movie they saw was ‘Sound of Music.’ ”