Friday, 2 January 2009


This is a real weird one. Black magician Aleister Crowley has been somewhat ignored by the cinema. Kenneth Anger did his bit with LUCIFER RISING, a couple of lo,w budget efforts and, of course, lots of hints in the films of Crowley's godson Donald Cammell and that is about the sum of it. Back in the 70's AIP were considering a full blown film on Crowley starring Telly Savalas, but it never materialised and Crowley, once dubbed "the wickedest man in England" has continued to elude film makers. CHEMICAL WEDDING doesn't really make up for this lack of cinematic attention but it tries hard and is, I feel, partially, successful. After watching the movie I actually spent most of the night dreaming about Crowley in dreams that were interspersed with scenes from PERFORMANCE, DEMON SEED and HAXAN as well as images from Rex Ingram's THE MAGICIAN (1926) which was based on the novel of the same title by Somerset Maugham which in turn was inspired by Crowley. CHEMICAL WEDDING is a thriller based on and idea by Bruce Dickerson (singer with Iron Maiden) in which a group of scientists at an English university accidently reincarnate Crowley in the more than willing body of eccentric professor Oliver Haddo (also the name of the Crowley figure in Maugham's book) played by Simon Callow. In reality Crowley was a pretty disgusting old bastard and the film certainly doesn't ignore this facet of his one point Callow unzips his pants and pees over the class he is lecturing! Good as Callow is and as enjoyable as the film is (I applaud any film that doesn't immeadiatly bring to mind half a dozen similar films) it left me wishing that somebody actually attempted a serious film about the "beast" Crowley - and this is more than endorsed by the openinging sequence of the film where two students go to visit the ageing magician in Hastings in 1947 with actor John Shrapnel giving a very convincing performance as Crowley. Direction by Julian Doyle. A most welcome oddity. Rating ***

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I've never even heard of this movie (exasperating for me to admit) so that makes your review that much more welcome. It does seem odd that Crowley has never made much of an appearance in cinema and the premise of the film is certainly interesting and filled with possibility. While the movie apparently doesn't live up to it's promise, it still sounds worth seeking out and I will certainly do so. As you say, any movie that doesn't immediately remind one of a dozen others HAS to be at least interesting to watch.