'Thief in the Night' Filmmaker Russ Doughten Dies

Russ Doughten
Russ Doughten

Christian filmmaker Russ Doughten Jr., best known for the 1970s’ end-times thrillers A Thief in the Night and A Distant Thunder, died Monday at his home in Carlisle, Iowa, after a lengthy cardiac-related illness. He was 86.

Known as the “Father of the Modern Christian Movie,” the founder of Russ Doughten Films was behind more than 150 projects that led to more than 6 million decisions for Christ.

“Our founder, good friend and mentor has gone home to be with the Lord,” said a Facebook post on the Russ Doughten Films page this week. “We here at Russ Doughten Films will miss him, and we will strive to uphold his vision of spreading the gospel through films.”

Also the founder of the now-defunct Mark IV Pictures and Heartland Productions, Doughten started making evangelistic movies in the 1950s. Nearly all of his films were shot in his home state of Iowa.

Although he worked on secular films, most notably as producer and director of the 1958 sci-fi/horror classic The Blob, Doughten made his mark with the Thief in the Night series, which dramatizes the rapture of the church and the struggles of a small band of believers against an increasingly hostile worldwide Antichrist dictatorship.

Doughten appeared in all four films—A Thief in the Night (1972), A Distant Thunder (1978), Image of the Beast (1980) and The Prodigal Planet (1983)—as the Rev. Matthew Turner, a survivalist who has an elaborate chart of the end-times events, but does not fully believe in the Bible.

The National Religious Broadcasters presented Doughten with the Milestone Award in 2002 for 50 years of achievement in communicating the gospel through movies.

He also established Mustard Seed International, a ministry that seeks to spread the gospel through translated films. A funeral service will be held Saturday at the Carlisle Missionary Baptist Church. Condolences can be offered online at petersonfuneralservice.com.


To contact us or to submit an article, click here.


Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective