A Distant Thunder (1978 film)

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A Distant Thunder
Directed by Donald W. Thompson
Written by Donald W. Thompson
Russell S. Doughten
Starring Patty Dunning
Sally Johnson
Sandy Christen
Thom Rachford
Maryann Rachford
Russell S. Doughten Jr.
Release date
  • 1978 (1978)
Country United States
Language English

A Distant Thunder, or A Thief in the Night II, is a 1978 evangelical Christian end times film. It is a sequel to the 1972 film A Thief in the Night, which portrayed the Rapture, an event in Christian eschatology in which all genuine Christians suddenly disappear and are taken to Heaven. The film is part of a four-part series, also called A Thief in the Night. The story is continued in Image of the Beast (1980) and The Prodigal Planet (1983).


Patty Myers is lying awake one night in a church basement, distraught and scared. She is to be executed the next morning for refusing to take the mark of the Beast. Patty knows what lies ahead if she takes the mark but can still not believe in Christ. When those around her try to comfort her and encourage her to accept the Lord, she lashes out at them, too scared to think straight. They are able to calm her down, however, and learn her story of how she got to the point she is at tonight.

She begins to tell her story, and the film enters a flashback. The flashback picks up where A Thief in the Night left off. A horrified Patty has just learned that her husband and millions of others have disappeared in the rapture, an event she has heard of but never believed in, until now. Patty desperately seeks to find her friends and family members but most have disappeared.

Patty and two of her friends, sisters Wenda and Sandy Johnson, hide out at Patty's grandmother's and watch devastating world events unfold. Drought, famine, and earthquakes become the norm and Patty and her two friends barely manage to eke out an existence. The three manage to survive with the help of Patty's friends Jerry and Diane (who also appeared in A Thief in the Night), who sneak them food supplies. Even through all these circumstances, Patty refuses to put faith in God, instead blaming God for all the terrible things that have happened to her.

Things get harder and riskier for the group when they meet one of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, and Wenda becomes a Christian. This means she has to quit her job and has to stay off the streets.

Patty, Wenda, and Sandy meet an old man named Jonathan Niles, who appears to be a beggar and asks them for food. Wenda feels sorry for the man and meets him in the park with some food. A couple of days later, Sandy gets Wenda to go to the park and there they meet Jonathan again and it is revealed that he took the mark. Then Sandy led her sister to a UNITE soldier who captured the two young ladies and they were transferred to a hospital to be treated for their injuries. After the medic leaves, Wenda just manages to telephone Patty to warn her of the UNITE pair approaching her home, before she is caught by a soldier herself. Patty almost escapes but is caught when she phoned Diane and got told to come to the UNITE centre. Patty obeys but tries to run as Diane reveals to her that she and Jerry took the mark 'as it was the only thing they could do', which leads to her capture.

The flashback comes to an end, and it is now the morning of Patty's execution and she still cannot make up her mind. At one point she almost decides to accept Christ, until she is faced with the guillotine and she learns the surprising identity of her betrayer, Sandy. As she witnesses Wenda being executed, she can do nothing more than scream with fright as her own execution draws near.

On the DVD release of this movie (released in 2004 by Russ Doughten Films), one of the DVD extras features an on-camera interview (done around 2004) with Patty Dunning, who currently resides in Iowa.


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