‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 2017 Fantasy Remake & Dream Cast

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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968) the film, is perfect and requires no changes. Nearly fifty years later, it remains a classic which lacks nothing and still basically holds up as a story and as a film today. The story is so perfect it could be adapted into a Grimm’s fairytale version that takes place in a medieval German village and still hold up just as well. We usually shudder at the news every time Hollywood dares to tread upon unholy ground and remake a diabolical horror classic. The 2014 NBC TV drama version starring Zoe Saldana was largely forgettable.

However, if ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ were to be remade as a feature film today (2017), we have some ideas for a fantasy production which would adapt the story to the current climate and offer opportunities for some fine talent to exhibit itself. Not enough older actors are given screen time these days which is a deep shame as they have such skill and talent. Hollywood could certainly do worse than take our advice.

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First, to adapt the film for today, Rosemary would have been Christian homeschooled (creationism not evolution) on a small Wisconsin or Iowa farm by a conservative, right-wing, Charismatic Christian family who fully expect the coming of “the Rapture” and the AntiChrist. These people take the Bible literally as the unerring Word of God. This family votes based solely upon the anti-abortion, pro-life and anti-gay movements. Rosemary enjoys playing girl’s volley ball, and doesn’t date. She moves away from the small town amongst the corn fields and cows to live for a few years in The Big City (need not be New York) and finds her ideas shifting with the current culture. She meets and falls in love with Guy, a handsome young man without religious ideals who is scraping by as an actor but desperately dreams of making it big.

Most of the story remains the same with a few tweaks here and there. For the notorious “dream sequence” Rosemary could see herself sailing away from her family farm through a sea of corn. Instead of the Pope offering his ring for her to kiss at the end of her nightmare, it could be a TV evangelist counting wads of cash, assuring her she is forgiven.

All of Them Witches: A “Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby

Fantasy Cast:

unknown-1 Rosemary Woodhouse – 

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Mia Wasikowska (current age 27) With a name like Mia how could we not consider her? Famous for Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ she has that somewhat fragile look but can show strength. or Chloë Grace Moretz (current age 20) famous for ‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘Let Me In’ (2010). Either of these ladies would also make a suitable Terry.

images-12  Guy Woodhouse –

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Zac Efron (current age 29) This guy could effectively play the desperately charming  actor hungry for fame and fortune; and perhaps bring his own special twist to the role.

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Unknown-14  Minnie Castevet: 

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Tracey Ullman (current age 57) Just think about it! Based on our highly esteemed portrayal by Ruth Gordon in the original film we doubt you could find better. Admittedly, if she were to play Minnie Castevet there may need to be some aging make-up involved but that’s no problem for Tracey Ullman, is it?ψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψ

m8droba-ec003   Roman Castevet 

aka Steven Marcato:

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Jack Nicholson (current age 80) If he’s willing and able we would have it no other way! Jack was considered for the role of Guy in the original film but was considered too sinister looking by director Polanski. Imagine Jack doing this:

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Or this…

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If Jack can’t or won’t come out of retirement, then next we’d ask…

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Malcom McDowell (current age 74), or perhaps John Malkovitch (current age 63). It could happen.

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Doctor Sapirstein – The Doctor from Hell:

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Willem Dafoe (current age 61) Now see the picture below and imagine Dafoe as Rosemary’s obstetrician. Uh huh, say no more. Yet, John Malkovitch would be great for this role too. Hmmmmm….

Rosemary's Baby (1968) Blu-ray Screenshot

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Laura-Louise McBurney – The Witch upstairs –  

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Laura-Louise as played by Patsy Kelly in the 1968 original.

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Kathleen Turner (current age 63) Yes! It has to be Serial Mom!

unknown-13Kathleen Turner as Laura-Louise and Tracey Ullman as Minnie Castevet. Delicious!ψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨψψψψψψψψψψψψψψψ

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“Hutch” – Rosemary’s friend. This character presents some problems today that wouldn’t have been so obvious in the 60’s. An older gentleman friend from the apartment building Rosemary used to live in after first moving to the Big City. If we keep this character an older gentleman then… Bill Murray (current age 66).

But why must Hutch be an older guy? Why not make the character Rosemary’s older girlfriend who befriended her upon moving to the Big City, and who changed Rosemary’s mind about gay people because she herself is a lesbian? Perhaps a writer or counselor who’s also studied something about Witchcraft…

640_winonaryder_gettyWinona Ryder current age 45, or Octavia Spencer (47) as Ms. Hutch.

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1968 Playmate of the Year Victoria Vetri, aka Angela Dorian, played Terry in the Polanski film.

   Terry Gionofrio – Suicidal house guest

For the role of the somewhat rehabilitated drug addict Terry, we select whichever of the two actresses we selected to play Rosemary who doesn’t get to play Rosemary; Mia Wasikowska (current age 27) or Chloë Grace Moretz (current age 20). Dye hair dark.

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Evan Peters (current age 30) of American Horror Story fame. He might also make a good Guy Woodhouse, in which case Zac Efron would be our good but disbelieving Dr Hill.

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Look What Happened to Rosemary's Baby

L to R: Mrs Gilmore, Mrs Wees, Mr Fountain, Dr Sapirstein, Mr Wees, Guy and Rosemary.

The Coven:

Anyone from our list who doesn’t make the final cut, plus these three performers who appeared as principal players in the original film and must now be supporting players in our fantasy remake…

Mia-Farrow-2014   Mia Farrow “Rosemary Woodhouse” in the original film (72) could be Mrs Gilmore in our fantasy remake: “There’s nothing to be afraid of Rosemary. Honest and truly there isn’t.”

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Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian) “Terry Gionofrio” in the original film can now be Mrs Wees. “We’re your friends Rosemary.”

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Mrs Wees hovers behind Rosemary in the blue dress suit.

Current age 72 and serving time, but with a release planned in the not-too-distant future. It is also our wish to see  Victoria Vetri and Mia Farrow paired up again, if only even for  a brief scene,  in the American Horror Story series. Oh please! Please! Please make it happen!

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Actually, Mrs Gilmore is saying: “There’s nothing to be afraid of Rosemary; honest and truly there isn’t.” Mrs Wees (off camera) says: “We’re your friends , Rosemary.”

Unknown-15   Charles Grodin aka “Dr. Hill” in the original film, (now 80) as Mr Wees. He’ll be the first to “Hail Satan!” in the climactic scene.

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images-2 Or… as Dr Shand?

And….

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Ernest Harada (73) appeared as the  photographer in the original film and is also in retirement, but if he could be coaxed out of it to perhaps take on another character… like that of Mr Nicklas who shows Rosemary and Guy the apartment, played by Elisha Cook in the original.

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We need a few more witches….

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Angelica Huston

Anjelica Huston (current age 66) shall be our cat-toting Mrs Sabatini for our dream remake.

 

 

 

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Nastassja Kinski

 

Nastassja Kinski (current age 56) shall be Mrs Fountain. Maybe Willem Dafoe as Mr. Fountain if Malkovitch plays Dr Sapirstein.

 

 

 

images-35   images-1-2               Christopher Walken (now 74) Can be the mysterious Mr Gilmore. We just want to see him creeping around.

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Well, our list is painfully caucasian, we know. That’s due to our limited knowledge of talent. After all, we mostly watch vintage diabolical horror films, which is largely a white dominated sub-genre. Surely there are other ideas for great actors in a revival of this classic horror thriller, but we’ve already spent enough time on this bit of dream-fancy fluff. Hope you enjoyed it. Who do you think should play in a ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘ remake?

 

 

A Japanese view of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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ローズマリーの赤ちゃん = Rozumaree no aka-chan

When we “Westerners” from the Judeo-Christian background view the classic horror-thriller film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ we are given to consider the position of evil in our society. Japanese people, on the other hand, find a fascination with the American fashion and style sense of the late 1960’s.

The Japanese perspective of this classic film ( Rosemary no akachan ローズマリーの赤ちゃん ) is perhaps unique in the world. There is little sense of “horror” such as a person from an American or European culture may feel. The Japanese are largely Atheistic, secular and without any devout religious fervor of any kind whatsoever. At the end of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ there is a sense of “So what? Glad the baby’s ok.”

images-2 This cartoon is a warning not to watch ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ if you have the “maternity blues.” But it praises Mia Farrow’s cuteness and fashion styles.

The Japanese have an incredible eye for fashion. They are also certainly not slouches when it comes to illustration. While it’s unlikely that we will be treated to a Japanese  manga or animated version of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ (or ‘Suspiria’ – yes, there has been some genuine talk of the later!), we have found some interesting examples of illustrations by Japanese artists who were inspired by Rosemary’s Baby.

This one is a favorite. The artist has a homepage here.

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What we have here is a kind of film and cast summary. From upper left and moving counter-clockwise the general translation is:

(That’s an illustration of Roman Polanski) The film’s handsome director can be seen in the DVD extras. He did mischief with an underage girl and now cannot enter the USA.”

“Mia was married to Frank Sinatra, who did not want her to finish the film. Mia was told she would get an academy award and be as famous as Audrey Hepburn if she completed the film, so she did. I don’t know what happened to her marriage.”

Red writing: “Rosemary is surrounded by servants of the Devil. Minnie Castevet: “Snips and snails and puppy dog’s tails! Drink it fresh!” Talkative people surround her. Laura-Louise says “Hi nice to meet you.””

Rosemary is saying: “Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson were considered to play my husband… but this guy sold his soul to the devil and got the part.” Big pink words “Give me back my baby!”

Guy Woodhouse in the brown suit is saying: “I’m in a Yamaha commercial!”

Black stroller: “At the end the baby’s face wasn’t shown.”

Dr Sapirstein says: “Listen only to me. Drink Tannis root juice. I’m a very famous Doctor.”

(Dr Shand, a minor character) “”Hi!” His smile is very charming as Rosemary is forced into the car.”

Upper right corner: “Hutch is Rosemary’s only friend and he discovers the diabolical truth and is killed for it. The name Hutch reminds the artist of a Japanese bee cartoon character (Hutch sounds like “Hachi” – Japanese for bee). Hutch asks “What is Tannis root?””

 

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Good likenesses

General translation (clockwise): This is a horror film but it can serve as a fashion role model. If you focus on the fashion your fear will be lessened. Rosemary is having the devil’s baby and she loses weight as she gets sicker, but she still has such cute 60’s fashion sense. Every scene she is so fashionable! Rosemary says: I went to Vidal Sassoon for a cute short haircut but my husband hates it! Around Minnie Castevet: My annoying old neighbor worships evil but even she is crazy fashionable! Red outfit: This red 2-piece outfit is my favorite in the film. The soft lines, the color and the black one strap patent shoes hit every girl’s style acupuncture points!

The artist’s blog is Here.

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Some Japanese really paid attention to the fashion style of Rosemary’s Baby

19029557_169451390259403_8351639112924692402_n     Ree Rosee illustration room is where to find this artist.

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If Rosemary’s Baby were a picture book, this could be the final illustration…

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Unfortunately, we could not identify the artist.

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images-32  Vintage novel

sim  Vintage souvenir picture folio

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

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Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes toast to an imminent conception with far-reaching effects.

Caution: This article contains some spoilers! If you have not read the novel or seen the film (what the Hell are you waiting for?!) you might want to save reading this article until after you have!

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In 1967 American culture was exploding on all levels. This was the year of the so-called “Summer of Love”.  The Civil Rights Movement headed by Martin Luther King Jr. was in full swing, as was the Vietnam War, the Sexual revolution, and activism for Women’s Rights. Andy Warhol was making instant movie stars in The Factory. Timothy Leary, a psychologist and researcher with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality who oversaw Harvard’s Psilocybin Project, instructed a crowd of 30, 000 hippies gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” LSD drenched Rock ‘n Roll and psychedelic art was unleashed as an endless parade of young, long haired hippies and flower children, defying all social norms, made transcendental pilgrimages – both near and far – towards a purple-hazy ideal of freedom. Young men were burning their draft cards and the youth in general were motivated towards social change while shaking off the grip of their families long-held belief systems. Things were drastically changing! Utopia was at hand!

An exotic and colorful bouquet of new cults, old religions, gurus and esoteric magic in the Age of Aquarius burst upon the scene: Moonies, Hare Krishnas, Occultism, TM, Scientology, Jim Jones, and the Process Church to name just a few. At the same time, Charles Manson was lurking in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Just the year before there was some publicity when Anton LaVey established the Church of Satan in San Francisco, the first legally recognized Satanic organization in history. Americans took notice of all this and wondered just what in the Hell was going on? The entire world had been turned topsy-turvy, seemingly overnight.

In the midst of this chaotic, sweaty, ecstatic rebirthing of the American Dream (which would quickly burn itself out and awaken into a full-blown nightmare) a book was published that March. Ira Levin’s thrilling best-selling suspense novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was born. A year later on June 12th, 1968 the faithful  film version directed by Roman Polanski was delivered to the world just 6 days after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. We feel it is not quite overstating the matter when we claim that the world has been feeling the effects of this counter-culture ‘Baby’ ever since.

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Hardcover 1967 edition

This was The Mother Of All Devil-Baby Films. It sent some people away from the theaters visibly shaken and muttering “Blasphemy!” under their breaths. It ushered in a flood of Devil and Child-of-Satan themed films and books of both epic and lowbrow proportions. Dozens of various evil incarnations of the premise have followed in the malodorous wake of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, including a made for tv sequel (‘Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby,’ 1976) and a 2-night NBC primetime remake in 2014. Ira Levin himself wrote a sequel: ‘Son of Rosemary,’ (published 1997) which he dedicated to Mia Farrow, who so excellently portrayed Rosemary Woodhouse in the now classic film.

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A challenge to Christian faith

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ appeared at a confrontational time in American society. Remembering this may help explain the nerve that this story hit for many people who were floundering or feeling washed-up by the counter-cultural wave of the day. The most firmly established, traditional and holy things were suddenly no longer sacred. In the film, Rosemary herself says “I was brought up a Catholic, now I don’t know.” Indeed, a stark TIME magazine cover from 1967 plainly asked: Is God Dead? This smacked of sacrilege and blasphemy to the majority of church-going middle America. The 60’s were a time when more people dared to openly doubt and question, not only established religion, but everything they had been taught or told! The hippies were busy rejecting, exploring and unlearning. Everything having to do with “The Establishment” was in doubt. The popular American consciousness was awakening to it’s own sense of independent thinking regarding reality apart from traditional authoratative religious ideas about morality as well as the corruptibility of a once esteemed government.

While ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is a slow-building, intellectual suspense – horror film with practically no blood or violence, it was the climax – a definitive casting down of established Faith in the absence of any God – which sent some believers to confession and nudged some others towards the New Age. It spoke directly to those who felt ill-fitted and hypocritical sitting dutifully in church in their Sunday best as the white Christian  centered society they grew up in collapsed around them. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ threw down the gauntlet; it forced believers to think hard for themselves about some deep questions, the kind that matter: Is there a God? and, If so, where the Hell is He now?

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Abortion was a topic not much discussed in polite company back before the movements towards change in the 60’s and 70’s. It was practically a taboo word, only whispered by mothers gossiping about some unfortunate neighbor’s daughter. In the film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ the word is spoken twice within a few seconds, which in itself was quite significant for the time of it’s release. Of course even this splinter of dialogue takes place in a scene within which a few women are speaking privately in a kitchen, in hushed voices and with the doors secured. We are given even deeper insight into Rosemary’s thought processes in the final pages of the novel where Rosemary, after the diabolical revelation of the baby’s paternity, considers throwing first the baby and then herself out of the seventh story window. “Choosing life,” to use a pro-life phrase, had never before had quite the same dire intimations. Abortion, Suicide and Satan are all a part of the spell conjured by Ira Levin’s novel and Roman Polanski’s faithful cinematic version of it. I have elucidated a few of these aspects of the book and film in this article: Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Maybe that’s all a bit heavy. Plenty of people enjoyed ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ the film as art, and rightly so. It is still widely considered to be not only Roman Polanski’s masterpiece but a watermark in cinematic history, and not only for suspense and horror. It is quite possibly the best horror film ever made. The seamless hand-held camera work, the realistic performances, the perfect casting, the elaborate sets, the 60’s fashions, and the understated horror of it all weaves an effective spell that has rarely been rivaled in cinema since it’s release in June 1968. It has been critiqued, studied, and analyzed; it was also condemned by the National Legion of Decency.

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Cover for the 50th anniversary edition

Yet, despite it’s Hellish premise, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is not without it’s own darkling undercurrent of black humor. Even as  Rosemary’s painful pregnancy intensifies and the stranglehold of suspicion and paranoia increases into a palpable threat, there is a snide kind of wit that permeates the film, like a chalky under taste, right up to the very denouement. New York City in the Swinging Sixties – the materialistic agnosticism of urban culture influencing the good Catholic school girl from Omaha. The strange neighbors all but hiding behind carnival devil masks. Rosemary’s husband Guy Woodhouse is an aspiring actor focused on name, fame and wealth: he’s a materialist interested in the supernatural only for whatever material benefits can be gained by it. He makes fun about seeing the Pope performing a Mass at Yankee stadium on TV: “That’s a great spot for my Yamaha commercial,” he laughs, shortly before pimping his wife out to You-Know-Who. It’s the film’s realism, along with a judicious use of subtle irony and sly wit, that makes the psychological terror all the more palpable.

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L to R: Bruno Sidar as Mr Gilmore, Patsy Kelly as Laura Louise McBurney, Charlotte Boerner as Mrs Leah Fountain, Almira Sessions as Mrs Sabatini with her cat Flash.

And we can’t help but relish Minnie and Roman Castevet and the other lurid characters surrounding Rosemary. Polanski mostly cast theater people and prolific film extras in these roles as witches, so we get an odd feeling of something not-quite-right and familiar about them at  the same time. Ruth Gordon won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet; a role she killed – leaving it impossible for anybody to match it. It is fun to think of the Castevets and some of the other extras as demons trying (a little too hard) to pass themselves off as human. We smirk at the irony  of a young, naive first-time mother’s helplessness before a coven of smiling, well-meaning old geezers who are (she thinks)  plotting against her and her baby. And, when there are no witches hovering around Rosemary, there are several authoritative men “mansplaining” things to her.

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“look at his hands!” Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet.

Want to know more about the witches in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A ‘Who’s Who?’ in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Read our Interview with cast member Ernest Harada who appears in the film’s climax: An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

The deal is made with the Devil of course, but Rosemary, ignoring warnings from a dear old friend, has already sold her soul (and good sense) by falling in love with the old apartment building’s gothic charm and by begging her ambitious actor husband Guy to get them out of “the other lease” in order to take the apartment in the looming Bramford (need we mention the infamous Dakota where the exterior shots were filmed?). After moving in she does her best to redecorate the rather solemn interior with white and yellows; but as Rosemary remakes the Bramford’s interior to suit her tastes, the Bramford remakes Rosemary’s interior to suit it’s own sinister plans. That’s because Rosemary’s metamorphosis is America’s metamorphosis. Innocence is lost. Once the post WWII “high” of the 1950’s and ’60’s faded, the public  grew numb after numerous political and social upheavals, celebrity deaths and the consumer complacency which ushered in the 1970’s. Off come the pig tails, gone is the girlish smile, and a pain – “like a wire inside of me getting tighter and tighter” as Rosemary laments – settles in our core.

We can argue that things are still changing drastically today, perhaps in even more ways than they were in ’67. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is now 50 years old and still walks among us like a smug iconoclast at a cocktail party – sneering and scoffing at our outmoded ideas regarding religion or morality – wearing a cheap Halloween Boogey-man mask as he laughs at our nervousness at letting go of our old fears and inhibitions. And yet we wonder after the final revelation at the end of the story: is it a happy ending or a terrifying one? The answer of course is “Both.” Rosemary’s baby is alive, safe, adored, worshipped; but that in itself spells certain doom to the world we know, or at least to the world we used to know “back then.”

– H.B. Gardner

Women From Hell: Cinema’s Greatest Ladies from Hades

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The Devil Is A Woman – Hollywood seems to have known this for some time. Perhaps it is our Western Judeo-Christian heritage with it’s misogynistic imprinting that has left us with a pre-formed suspicion of the Woman-with-the-Serpent.

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Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atkinson Art Gallery. The Tree of Knowledge ever bears forbidden fruit.

Seductress, Temptress, Witch, Murderess, Madwoman, Child-Snatcher… what causes this particular archetype to rise with such horrific force – like a primitive shadow from the collective unconscious – into our cinematic plays of shadow and light? Women have often been among the most numerous and the most devoted of the Devil’s servants. Though we would’ve enjoyed seeing Marlene Dietrich celebrate a Black Mass in a devilish thriller directed by Hitchcock, that remains a lost fantasy. It has really only been since the 1960’s that we’ve seen some celluloid Femme Fatales with a true sulphuric sense.

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Hollywood has always known: The Devil Is A Woman (1935)

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Marlene would’ve made a marvelous Madame de Montespan

We have constructed a list (in vaguely chronological order and by no means exhaustive) of Cinematic Diabolical Dames deserving of recognition for the characters they brought to wicked life. They can both delight and disturb us, and they often have some of the best lines in films. These women are really in touch with their dark sides. Let’s celebrate Our Ladies In Hades.

Note: We were unsure whether to include the Possessed to our list as, while they may be human, they are not entirely themselves, so to speak. Therefore we decided not to include the notoriously infamous  Regan MacNeil / Pazuzu character from ‘The Exorcist,’ but we did include the less widely known Sister Jeanne from ‘The Devils.’ ‘Carrie’ White’s mother could be added because her extreme Christian religiosity makes her act evil… but let’s just accept that she is a psycho. We’ll try not to get complicated. Enjoy!

As an actress, Barbara Steele deserves special mention because of her bewitching presence amongst Horror Cinema’s tortured and lost souls. Her dark beauty still provides a template for gothic divas today. We certainly include her as the vampire witch princess Katia Vajda/Princess Asa Vajda from the influential ‘Black Sunday’ aka ‘Mask of Satan’ (1960) directed by Mario Bava, which is saturated with Gothic atmosphere and creepy  effects which are still, well… effective!

In Curse of the Crimson Altar’ aka ‘The Crimson Cult’ (1968), which also features Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele plays Lavinia Morley who leads a witchcraft cult. She also appeared with Vincent Price in ‘The Pit and the Pendulum.’ We could go on listing her devilish films and her appearances in Dark Shadows but we hope you will discover her magic for yourself if you haven’t already had the pleasure.

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Barbara Steele in ‘Black Sunday’

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Barbara Steele in ‘Curse of the Crimson Altar’ (1968)

Sister Jeanne of the Angels in Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS as played by Vanessa Redgrave      An excellent performance in an excellent film. Sister Jeanne is a hunchbacked  Ursuline nun with a beautiful face in 17th century France. We watch in horror as the good nun and her repressed sisters – tormented by both fear and desire – become possessed by some really sinister Devils, namely the Church and State.

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The Evil One is always tempting us… Vanessa Redgrave discovers some dirty habits in Ken Russell’s ‘THE DEVILS’

Mrs. Blaylock from ‘THE OMEN’ (Billie Whitelaw – original [1976] & Mia Farrow – remake [2006])  When Mrs Blaylock arrives to be the nanny for young Damian Thorn we feel certain there is something a little bit off about her, though nothing obvious at first. Is she human? Is she a demon sent from Hell? What is certain is her devotion to her young charge. Those feral eyes that appear through a sheer layer of gossamer nightgown as Katherine Thorn attempts to dress herself in the hospital, like a shark steadily approaching a drowning swimmer… Heaven help us!

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Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Blaylock

Although we don’t care much for flawed remakes or sequels, we must give the Devil Her due. Mia Farrow accepted the stunt casting for The Omen 2006 reboot which, in a deft marketing ploy, opened in America on 6-6-’06. We were present for the event at a packed theater in Orlando when, at the opening of the film just as the opening credits were starting to roll, the celluloid burned in the projector – causing a sizzling psychedelic suppuration to spill across the movie screen. One nervous young woman of color exclaimed that this film was evil and possessed by the Devil’s power and quickly exited the theater with an amused and peeved date following her out. They never returned. It was a clever move to have Mme Farrow play the Antichrist’s guardian as she is so well known for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. Her sweet portrayal of Mrs Blaylock truly makes the remake darkly-delightfully watchable.

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Mrs. Ann Thorn in ‘DAMIEN: OMEN II ‘     Lee Grant is believable as a devoted stepmother to two young men. Her reactions to the drama around her feel genuine so we must admit she shocked the hell out of us the first time we saw this film. Her final treacherous move just before delivering her lines – which are legendary in Satanic Cinema – (“Here’s your daggers!! ….I’ve always belonged to Him!”) left more than one pair of jaws agape. Nobody saw this ending coming until it was too late.

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Lee Grant as Ann Thorn prepares to skewer and barbecue.

Charlotte Rampling as Margaret Krusemark in ‘ANGEL HEART’    Sophisticated,  tasteful  and dignified, Margaret Krusemark is one classy dame, but her unusual profession and her taste in jewelry and home decor let us know that she is, in no uncertain terms, into more than just star-gazing and black magic. Tis pity she has a criminal connection with old heart-throb Johnny Favorite, though a special kind of Valentine will see them reunited.

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“I don’t think you’d like what I see in your future.”

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Mickey Rourke and Charlotte Rampling star in Angel Heart

Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’   Clare Higgins as Julia Cotton & Female Cenobite    There is no mistaking Julia Cotton for a sweet hausfrau. This icy woman is frigid with her dull husband but fiery-hot and passionate with his brother Frank! In the first film she is the Wicked Stepmother, in Hellbound she emerges as The Evil Queen. No doubt she is on the highway to Hell. Her desires and cruelty should mark her high (or should we say Low?) on our list, ranking her one of the true Queens of the Damned! A woman who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it!

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“Now everybody’s happy.”

While we are in Hell(raiser) we may as well pause to genuflect and offer an orison to the Female Cenobite. This creature is unique in Horror cinema. Though other female cenobites have followed since the first two films in the series, she causes us to cringe with her taste for flesh and pain. Two separate actresses portrayed the female cenobite in the first two films. In the first Hellraiser the Female Cenobite was played by Grace Kirby who also happens to be Clive Barker’s cousin. In Hellbound, the role is played by Barbie Wilde who has authored some fiction which you who are reading this should check out. The Hellraiser themed short story collection Hellbound Hearts (2009) contains a backstory she wrote for her Female Cenobite character titled Sister Cilice which we highly recommend.

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Barbie Wilde in Hellbound

You may also enjoy reading ‘The Venus Complex’ by Barbie Wilde

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“Perhaps you’re teasing us. Are you teasing us?”

‘The Ninth Gate’    Emmanuelle Seigner as “The Girl”, or as we prefer to call her The Mysterious Familiar Demoness. Part Succubus, part guardian daemon, this mysterious creature is ever unperturbed, has a great sense of timing, and is almost playful with Johnny Depp’s character… as a cat is with a mouse. She is fierce in the film’s ….umm, fiery climax.

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Ms Seigner is married to director Roman Polanski who directed The Ninth Gate and is famed for his contemporary Satanic masterpiece ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ How can we NOT mention lovable old Minnie Castevet ?- With a whiff of Tannis root perfume this crass character has a sense of style unsurpassed in Satanic Cinema. This nosey neighbor will creep you out even as she attempts to creep into your heart. Ruth Gordon‘s portrayal of a hip geriatric witch from Manhattan’s Upper West Side won her a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, winning perhaps the highest recognition of our sister Satanistas in Cinema – ever! Don’t be fooled by this harmless looking old lady!

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And the 2014 ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ TV remake with Carole Bouquet as Margeaux Castevet . Wiser heads must have prevailed at the studio – knowing the impossibility of even attempting to match Ruth Gordon’s flawless portrayal as Minnie Castevet – they instead took a more continental direction for the character with the sleek and sophisticated Carole Bouquet. We are certainly in praise of the older woman when speaking of the ladies Castevet.

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Mrs Ulman from ‘House of the Devil’  played by Mary Woronov    Creeps us out of all proportion to her time onscreen. Effectively evil in an understated way that is rarely accomplished in cinema these days. Hers is a throwback to those good old Omen days; as if Mrs Blaylock had survived and relocated to America in the 80’s. Mary Woronov has led a fascinating acting career through Warhol’s Factory, Punk, off-Broadway theater and numerous appearances in Cult and Horror and genre films and TV.

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In Rob Zombie’s ‘The Lords of Salem’  (2013)     We get several witches worth their cinematic salt! Besides Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi La Rock / Adelaide Hawthorne, we also get to savor Judy Geeson as Lacy Doyle, Meg Foster as Margaret Morgan, Patricia Quinn as Megan, and Dee Wallace as Sonny. A veritable coven of conniving women who usher an unsuspecting Heidi through a metaphysical mental metamorphosis to create a perfect vessel of demonic vengeance. We don’t view Heidi as demonically possessed, though she may certainly be classified as demonically obsessed.

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Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi in The Lords of Salem

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You get your witches’ worth in this Rob Zombie flick! The Three Witches: L to R: Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson and Dee Wallace.

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Meg Foster is perfect as Margaret Morgan

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The Assumption of Maria is Satanized into the Descent of Heidi

This great iconic image reminds us of one of our favorite paintings…

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‘Diana of Ephesus and the slaves’ (1893 – 1898),  by the severely under-appreciated Italian symbolist painter Giulio Aristide Sartorio.  Was Rob Zombie inspired by this painting?

Did you know?

The cult statues of the many-breasted Ephesian Artemis / Diana were often rigged as fountains in Her ancient temples. These fountains would spew forth milk from the nipples at the climax of the celebrations. These temples were vandalized and desecrated by Christian zealots centuries ago but some images remain. The Goddesses have been demonized since that time, but fortunately She is in recovery.

We could go on and on with this list, and perhaps we will add others as time permits. We can certainly include more. If you think of some we have missed that really deserve to be added in here please let us know.

An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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Ernest Harada played the Japanese photographer (named Hayato in the novel) in the final scene of Rosemary’s Baby.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of  ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – the classic spellbinding thriller – Devil In The Details interviewed actor and performer Ernest Harada, who appears as a Satanic Japanese photographer in the climactic final scene of the 1968 film directed by Roman Polanski. The novel by Ira Levin was published in 1967, and the film was released the following year, making 2017 and 2018 the Golden Jubilees of one of the horror genre’s most influential works.

Born October 20, 1944, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ernest Harada graduated from Mid-Pacific Institute, class of 1962 and studied political science at Syracuse University. He received a degree in acting in 1965 from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the oldest drama school in the UK.

Harada is happily retired in Honolulu. He performs occasional concerts, most recently in Germany and New York and Hawaii. We reached out to Harada to ask him about his career and professional experience. As one of the last surviving cast members of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ Harada had some interesting insights into life an Asian American artist in Hollywood and on Broadway, what it was like to work with Roman Polanski, and what exactly was in that black bassinet?

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Mr Ernest Harada, from his personal collection.

Sonny Gardner: Is this Mr Harada speaking?

Ernest Harada: Yes. Is this Sonny?

SG: Yes, thank you so much for taking my call.

EH: My pleasure.

SG: Good Morning. How are you?

EH: I am good. I am back in Honolulu and recovering and doing my physical therapy and hopefully will be back in shape again.

SG: I’m glad to hear you’re back in paradise. Honolulu sounds marvelous; it’s where my parents met many, many years ago, though I’ve never been there myself.

EH: It’s a great place. I think it’s as close to Paradise on Earth as you can get. I mean weather-wise and ultimately the people-wise. It’s a wonderful place. That’s why when I had to retire I came back home.

SG: So you are from Hawaii originally?

EH: I was born and raised here. I left here when I graduated high school at 18. I went to Syracuse University for one year and, at the University, realized I wanted to pursue acting and was given an opportunity actually by a director from the Royal Shakespere Company who suggested I should be in London studying Drama. Up to that point I had no idea I wanted to be an actor. I was there for Political Science, I mean I was going to become an international lawyer and basically represent the up-and-coming Japanese economy. My father was visiting Japan since the early fifties and he realized what a business behemoth Japan was becoming, and that they would need, once they got big enough, representation in America and that was going to be me.

So I went to Syracuse because they had an excellent school – Maxwell School of Citizenship – which basically dealt with international law. But I got involved in theatrics there and a director of the Royal Shakespere Company who happened to see ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that I was performing in, he pulled me aside and said that I should be studying in London. He assumed I was studying Drama at Syracuse, which I wasn’t. So he said I should be in London and suggested three schools. He sent me their addresses; of course I auditioned for them, and when I was accepted at all three of them: the Royal Academy, the London Academy and Central School, I decided Yes, this is really what I wanted and I moved to London and studied there for three years.

SG: Wow, that’s fascinating.

EH: Yeah, that’s how I began my choice of being an actor.

SG: I read that you had attended the London Academy of Music Dramatic Art, class of 1965 I believe.

EH: Yes.

SG: So, what was your family’s reaction? How did your father and the rest of your family react to you going off into the Arts when you had focused on international law?

EH: Well, he always thought I’d outgrow it. He never thought it was a viable occupation. Even when I was supporting myself and making money,  uhm.., it just was not a legitimate profession. But they learned to live with it.

SG: I’m glad to hear that. So you grew up in Hawaii with your family there, a family of Japanese heritage.

EH: Yes.

SG: So you were born right at the tail-end of World War II, were you not?

EH: Yes, ’44.

SG: Right. So, I was just curious, I’ve been living in Japan now for about 8 years and I’ve been coming and going from Japan for more than that, going on 15 years, so, I’m a little familiar with the culture and some of the history. I was wondering about what it was like for somebody who was an American citizen but also of Japanese heritage at the end of WWII ? Especially in Hawaii, you know with Pearl Harbor and all?

EH: Well, basically in Hawaii we were spared the kind of discrimination that they faced in the West Coast of the mainland of the continental USA. They thought about incarcerating the Japanese population here, but wiser heads prevailed. They realized that you cannot incarcerate one-third of the population – which was the Japanese population at that time – and have a viable economy. I mean the entire economy would’ve collapsed. So basically they just jailed or relocated the ringleaders – the ringleaders being anyone who was educated: people in newspapers, community leaders, religious leaders, well-educated doctors… anyone they could think… or they thought could possibly might – might – be dangerous. And in fact absolutely none of them were.

SG: Right.

EH: There was absolutely no case of espionage by anyone. And we knew that as Japanese here. I mean we were American Japanese, especially by the Nisei [note: Nisei = second generation of Japanese immigrants], there were some Isei’s that had feelings for Japan, as my grandfather being a first generation always felt very strongly Japanese, but that was his heritage. But anyone born in Hawaii was immediately – this is our loyalty – I think, more to Hawaii than to America.

Hawaii is a very unique microcosm. (thoughtful Pause) I really think Hawaii is going to be the model for the world. We get together and live together with various races and  cultures and religions. There was no majority. There still isn’t a majority. We are a community of minorities and we make it work.

SG: That’s marvelous. It really is a unique culture in the world.

EH: Yes!

SG: And especially in American culture it’s very unique.

EH: Well, I mean it’s only… it’s like having Barak Obama, though he is of mixed parentage, he is himself… I mean they ask him “Why do you bring your family here for Christmas every year?” He said ‘I want my daughters to grow up knowing who they are and where they came from.’ Which means he associates being Hawaiian as much as being a black man, and I think even more so. I mean this is the culture that nurtured him. And what I have discovered – the uniqueness of the Japanese Americans coming from Hawaii and a lot of Japanese that I’ve met – I mean Japan Nationals on the mainland – said there’s such a difference in the Japanese from Hawaii and the Japanese from the (US) mainland. I said, well we were not imprisoned; we are not intimidated. We have a spontaneity; we are a more fulfilled personality. We never were caught and beaten down as so much of the Japanese Americans in California and the West Coast were. I mean a lot of them were afraid even to admit they were Japanese. Even now.

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Ernest Harada, 1977

SG: Yeah, you’re right. There is so much fear and paranoia of foreigners these days…

EH: Well, it’s persecution! They were persecuted, you know?

SG: Truly.

EH: Yes, and I visit Japan a lot.

SG: Oh, do you?

EH: Yes. I’ve been there 8 or maybe 10 times. My father had a company there and we would go and visit. In fact, we were there just maybe a couple of years ago. I took my whole family down; we came from Yamaguchi prefecture. And so we went to visit the valley from whence we came, where my grandfather emigrated from. My grandmother came from Hofu and my maternal grandparents came pretty much from the Iwakumi area; so we visited all of that. My brother and sister had never quite seen it before. And it was lovely, it was a lovely trip. I love Japan.

SG: I’m glad to hear that. (laughs)

EH: Oh, yes, My sister’s partner said, you know after having visited Japan she said, it is absolutely the most sophisticated culture on Earth. They have thought of everything down to the nth degree, and I feel she’s absolutely right. And I’m glad she appreciated that about the Japanese sensibility. Everything is thought of, to the minutest detail, which  sometimes can work towards their detriment; I think it curtails their spontaneity.

SG: Right. (laughs) True.

EH: But as a culture I mean it has created a marvel, something I’m very proud of. I’m very proud of my Japanese heritage.

SG: Yes, it really is a pleasure to live here. It’s quite comfortable and people are so polite.

EH: Oh, it’s clean, it’s efficient, and everything works! (laughs)

SG: Oh, yeah… (laughs). Well, moving back to your professional career, you mentioned how you had gotten interested in acting while you were in school, and you were encouraged. I was wondering, from your perspective as someone of Japanese heritage – and of Asian heritage in general, but also of American Hawaiian heritage – your perspective as a performer over these years in the world of Hollywood and show business, if you have anything you’d like to share about that.

EH: Well, by the time I got to Hollywood, here I was totally capable of doing Shakespere, and if you wanted classical theater I was totally capable of doing it, and knowing how to wear costumes from the 17th century on – and basically being slammed into a work environment where you’re going to play waiters and gangsters and things that were totally unchallenging. A handful of us started an organization first called Brotherhood of Artists advocating for Asian-Pacific American actors; and later it became the Association of Asian-Pacific American Artists and I was one of it’s founders and it’s president, oh for too many years, (laughs). And our primary purpose, our sole purpose, was to advocate for better roles for the Asian artists. Also, I was one of the founding members of the East West Players, which is still going, a professional theatre company in Los Angeles. I was a founding member there because we needed someplace where we could act and stretch our muscles and become better performers.

And that was pretty much all of my career there. All the while I was active in Hollywood I was in an advocacy group, most likely heading it, and of course supporting the East West players. At a certain point I dropped out, I could no longer perform with them, I was just too busy. But it doesn’t matter, you know, it was successful and thriving and we created something that was wonderful.

SG: Yes, that’s true. I had asked you before if ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was your first film but you mentioned you were in ‘Valley of the Dolls’ from the year before ‘Rosemary.’

EH: I was…, I think I opened a door; I don’t even know whether I said anything. What had happened was I had gotten to Hollywood, I was on route to New York to become a starving artist, I mean this is after Europe.

SG: Right. After your studies there.

EH: But I had a friend who was involved in the Columbia new talent program, Studio Players, and he got me involved so I immediately got an agent. One of the very first people she set me up to meet was Joe Scully who was a casting director at 20th Century Fox, and he was working on a film called ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ and at that point they were screen testing and he liked me and I liked him and we hit it off and he said “You’re going to need your Screen Actors Guild card.” So he got them to basically write me in on screen tests. So I had like a week of screen testing with Patty duke and Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate and when the film came around he put me in it! (laughs)

SG: Excellent!

EH: Right. I mean, basically he was just helping me to get my screen actors guild card, not that there was a specific role that was called for. And in a sense that’s also what happened with ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ My agency was the Bessie Loo Agency.  My agent was Angela Loo  her daughter, who began her career at the same time as mine. I got a call from my agent and she said “Oh, you have a job on ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.” It was a bestseller in every showcase in the bookstores so I immediately rushed out, read the book twice, I called her back, I said are you sure you have the right movie? And she said “Yes, I have the contract right here in front of me!” I said well, what part do I have? She said “Well, I don’t know. I went in and tripped and fell – I was supposed to meet Roman Polanski and your picture was lying on top at his feet – and he said “Him. I want him.”” (laughs) And she said “Oh, but he’s my most expensive actor.” At that time I was her only actor (laughs) .  So I mean, if they say that’s what luck is, that’s what luck is. But, literally she tripped and fell, and my picture was on top because I had just met with her a couple days before, and she was a brand new agent and we both got our first jobs together with Roman Polanski.

SG: How lucky!

EH: And that’s how I got the job for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and I walked on set and still didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do!

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Actors Phil Leeds and Ernest Harada both appeared in the film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and both  appeared in a Halloween episode of Roseanne with a ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ twist!

SG: And the scene you were in was filmed in California, I believe.

EH: Yes, it was filmed on the Paramount lot.

SG: Right. Do you recall around how long it took to film that final scene that you appear in in the film?

EH: You know, I think the original contract was for a week, but I think we went ten days.

SG: Wow! Ten days!

EH: Not that I knew much about film making; I mean I was a total newcomer. But what Roman was doing with the hand-held cameras without any kind of break… I mean I had worked on ‘Valley of the Dolls’ so I knew what dolly shots were, and close-ups and how they set up a shot, but what Roman was doing with ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was having the camera on somebody’s shoulder walking through these elaborate sets all in one take! And even during the scene itself when Rosemary finally comes in, rather than using a tripod or a dolly, he had the cameraman literally over her shoulder filming reactions on people.  That’s how he could get really get an unbroken feeling from the audience viewpoint and from Rosemary’s viewpoint – of reactions. It was, as I  discovered later, a trend-setting technique.

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On Roman Polanski : “It was, as I discovered later, a trend-setting kind of thing he was doing.”

SG: Yes, it’s really a unique perspective. Everything in the film is from Rosemary’s point of view or the camera is always on her face or what she’s doing. There’s just something so enchanting or enthralling about that film with the camera work and the point-of-view.

EH: Exactly. Yes. And only someone who really understands how to put a film together appreciates what the camerawork was, and that’s what took up so much of the time. But in the film it was seamless, it was flawless. I think that was his secret to making it as horrific as it turned out to be; there’s an absolute smoothness about the whole thing and a reality – a different reality.

SG: So, what was your impression of the role you were given in the film?

EH: Well, I asked Roman about that finally. I said my part isn’t in the book at all. He said “If you look around you see these Japanese business men all over the place and they all have cameras – they’re like in groups of three and four and five, and they’re running all over the world – Europe or America – and they all have cameras! I wanted to put that in, so you’re it!”

SG: Wow, what a stroke of genius.

EH: Well, he is. I think he is. A bonafide, certified genius.

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Ernest Harada on the left at the climactic moment of Rosemary’s Baby.

SG: Your character is quite conspicuous in the final scene. It’s kind of an odd character to discover there in that scene of the story.

EH: Yes. (laughs). Every character in that scene is kind of odd! (laughs)

SG: True. (laughs)

EH: It’s not a usual assemblage of folk.

SG: True! This selection of character actors and theater folk was really, I think, another example of Polanski’s genius; they all appear odd yet somehow familiar at the same time.

EH: Right. I mean individually you look at them and you think “Oh, she’s a nice old lady,” but in that setting suddenly that nice old lady has another dimension. The film made what was normal extraordinary. And a lot of those people – the older people – were extras but he cast them extremely well. Even I was kind of creeped out whenever we were on the set.

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Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet, behind her are Natalie Masters and Elmer Modlin.

SG: What was it like meeting with and working with the cast and crew there? Do you have any interesting memories of working with the actors?

EH: By the time they filmed that scene Mia [Farrow] was already getting divorced from Frank Sinatra. So she was experiencing an emotional trauma. Between takes she’d rush to her trailer, and she had a dressing trailer right in the middle of the sound stage, so we never saw her. But I became good friends with Sydney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon. And sometimes, I mean we had a lot of lunches together, Sydney was trying to bring me in and telling me I have to get to New York. That’s of course primarily where he was, he was a great matinee idol on the Broadway stage. And Ruth, Ruth Gordon hadn’t become the big star she was then. I mean she was primarily known as a writer. But she had just been to New York and seen ‘Cabaret’ the musical so she was singing the songs and tried to teach them to me. We were having a great time. And sometimes Patsy Kelly would join us. And that was pretty much it, I mean Sydney, Ruth, Patsy Kelly and myself; we hung-out around a lot during the filming.

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Sydney Blackmer as Roman Castevet / Steven Marcato with Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse

SG: That’s so great! I was born in 1970 so I recall seeing a lot of Ruth Gordon and Patsy Kelly while growing up in the ’70’s.

EH: Yeah! They’re delightful people. I mean I love actors. I’ve spent my life with them!

SG: Was there any particular direction you were given for that final scene?

EH: No, it just was “Say this” or “Do this” and it would change on different takes.  I’ve worked with other directors who just say “Do it the way you feel it; that’s why I hired you. You’re the actor.” And Roman was a little like that in that he primarily worked with the camera people. I don’t recall him giving much acting direction – to any cast members, on the set. He may have said things to actors privately, but not on the set. Everyone pretty much knew what they were going to do and he pretty much let us do what we wanted to do with it.

SG: Your character really does seem like he just stepped off the airplane and your Japanese accent is perfect. I live in Japan so I was really intrigued by your character because I wondered ‘Did they just run to the airport and pick up this guy and hire a taxi to take him to the set? I mean he’s just flawless! But you must have been familiar with a Japanese accent I think.

EH: I had certainly heard enough of it! That was not a big stretch. I was good with a lot of accents though. Later on I’d go to interviews and they’d say “We need this part and we need it in a Japanese accent.” So I’d do it and this one producer said “That’s not a Japanese accent.” Excuse me? I asked him what he thought a Japanese accent was. And he said “Well, like Richard Loo in all the World War II films.” I said, “Well I hate to inform you, I know Richard Loo, he’s from Maui, and the accent he has is basically a Chinese accent. His name is Loo, that’s ChineseBut then that was typical of the kind of stereotypical treatment we got that I personally, fought so hard against. Why can’t I speak the way I speak? I mean, you want the Queen’s English? I’ll give you that (mockingly as a perturbed producer): “Oh no! No!”

SG: In that final scene, when you were on set, did you look in the bassinet? Was there a baby or a doll prop in that bassinet? Because in the film we never see a baby.

EH: They later, I found out, tried to do a baby in the set and they realized that it was not horrific. But no, there was no baby in the bassinet. Mia did a fabulous job!

SG: She really did! When the movie came out do you recall any reactions from family or friends as to the story or the content of the film?

EH: Basically my people were actors and people involved in film, and this is in California and Hollywood, and they realized what a great horror film it was. My family was just happy to see me working. (laughs) But then they were not movie buffs or critics in any sense of the word. But no, even when it was first released there was a sizable group who realized that it was a great, great film. The fact that there was no blood; it was Hitchcokian in that sense, it was so suspenseful. Horrifically suspenseful with no blood or anything, it just slowly built into this horrendous ending. And it’s really a very unlikely story! (laughs) The Devil’s child! And Polanski made it happen! It became real! And that was really Ira Levin and Polanski. And really the story is kind of preposterous.

SG: Yes, truly. It’s almost a little humorous; like darkly humorous, in a sense.

EH: Exactly! But they made it very real.

SG: And without all the blood and violence. These days every horror film I see relies way  too much on graphic effects and gore. Rosemary’s Baby is such a perfect film without any of that; the horror is all cerebral.

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EH: Yeah, and the other film that’s always referenced, as far as horror films, is The Exorcist! And Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t have all that slime all over the place or the heads turning 360 degrees, and bodies flying out windows… You know as an artist I realize the artistry in ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ I mean the effects it got from so little was extraordinary. I mean I can’t think of another horror film of that kind of a caliber.

SG: Me either. Do you have any opinions on the cultural impact of Rosemary’s Baby?

EH: The cultural impact is when people say “What films were you in?” and I’ve done a number, I mean I starred with Tom Hanks and John Candy [in Volunteers, 1985]  but the one I mention is ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and everybody instantly knows it. It’s certainly become a classic. And they say “Oh, what part did you play in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?” and I tell them ‘The baby, of course!’ And they say “What?!”

SG: (laughs) That’s funny!

EH: Yeah, well then they say “Hey wait a minute! There wasn’t a baby!” But I’ve seen, subsequently, maybe on Youtube, them trying to put a baby together that was properly horrific. And I’m glad they didn’t because the baby that your mind creates of course is even more frightening than anything they could show you practically. Your mind creates that baby; but that was the entire film, you know?

“…they say “Oh, what part did you play in ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘?” and I tell them ‘The baby, of course!'”

SG: Right. Now, I kind of skipped over your appearances on Broadway. A few nights ago my wife and I watched ‘Pacific Overtures’ on Youtube. You seemed as comfortable  onstage as you did in front of the camera. Do you prefer one over the other?

EH: I have always loved the stage. Mainly because when you are performing onstage it’s just you and the audience, whereas with film it is always through the director’s eyes and the actor really has no control over anything. You come up with a performance but whether that performance even winds up in the final cut is another matter, much less what form it takes. I mean it’s filtered through the director. Whereas on the stage, once you’re onstage, it’s you and the audience, and I’ve always loved that. In fact I’ve used my film and television career to finance my stage work. The stage does not pay. I did a lot of stage in places like Milwaukee and La Jolla and I was losing money, going out of town to do these plays, but that’s where my heart was.

SG: You’re a true artist.

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Ernest Harada during the original 1976 Broadway cast recording of ‘Pacific Overtures’ written by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman.

EH: Well, it’s what I loved, and I believe in pursuing what you love. Do it! And I didn’t get rich and famous but I had a very fulfilling life as an artist.

One time a writer-producer told me he was putting together a TV series, and that I and a certain well known movie star would be perfect in it together. But I was on my way to Broadway to do Pacific Overtures – a chance of a lifetime. Until then, the last show to include Asians in the cast was ‘Flower Drum Song’ 20 years earlier, and after ‘Pacific Overtures’ the only show to include Asians in the cast was ‘Miss Saigon’ twenty years later! So if ever I was going to do Broadway I had to take it. Of course I could not call myself an actor and turn down Broadway for television. And maybe that was a dumb move, I don’t know. But then I’ve never regretted doing Broadway; it’s one of the crowning achievements in my life, more so than anything I did in film.

SG: I agree. I imagine it’s a really wonderful experience.

Link: Ernest Harada performs Welcome to Kanagawa from Pacific Overtures.

EH: Well, to be on Broadway you’re on the creme de la creme; you know? I mean just many people never even get there. Film – you can take somebody off the street and make a star. With Broadway it requires work. It’s discipline. It’s the art of acting and performing. And no, there was no way I could turn it down, and wisely so. I mean twenty years later ‘Miss Saigon’ comes into town and we had to protest it because the lead role – this supposedly Asian man – was cast with Jonathan Price!

SG: Really?!

EH: It was a big hit in London. Cameron Mackintosh was as big a producer as you could possibly get at that time; he was going to bring it to New York and, it was going to be a smash hit. So we went through Actor’s Equity; they would all need to be permitted by Actor’s Equity to bring the London people over. Colleen Dewhurst was then president of Actor’s Equity and we explained our plight to her. The claim was that there were no Asian stars, according to Mackintosh. Our argument to Colleen and the Actor’s Equity board was, how can there be an Asian star when we are never even given the opportunity to play the Asian roles?

“…how can there be an Asian star when we are never even given the opportunity to play the Asian roles?”

SG: Right?!

EH: So I said, you tell me any Asian who’s played ‘The King And I’ and they couldn’t! Because it had never been played by an Asian. And I said it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that there’s no Asian stars if we are never given the opportunity! Not even to audition! We’re not even in the consideration. This happened in films too. The last leading Asian man was Sessue Hayakawa from way back in the the 1930’s!

Anyway we stopped the show from opening for a while and that was important. Then our biggest advocate, Colleen, died. Now, 25 years later, there is some progress. They have just revived the show on Broadway and the lead character is being played by an Asian. It is gratifying, and I am very proud of what we have done to create this opportunity.

SG: Wow! That’s so great. Now, I have a Devil In the Details question which I would like to ask you, and anyone who I get the chance to interview: What do you consider evil in today’s society?

EH:  I think evil is any deliberate act of cruelty.  It is selfishness and greed. Evil is what you get when you lack empathy and altruism.  In our current society I would say that we, as a country, have focused on the wrong things.  Money and greed at the expense of everything else.  I don’t see how you cannot provide healthcare for everyone and how you cannot protect the environment that we exist in.  I don’t understand how you can dismantle environmental protection and not think of your grandchildren down the line. I don’t see how you can believe money will protect you from a  totally diseased and totally polluted world.  Evil is selfishness and greed.

SG: Very well said, Mr. Harada and thank you so much; this has been not only an honor and a privilege but a real pleasure to be able to call you and speak with you. You have been so kind and generous with your time.

EH: You are very welcome. Aloha.

SG: Aloha.

This interview took place on April 7th, 2017 Tokyo time, April 6th Honolulu time.

Want to know ALL the witches in the Castevet’s coven? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A “Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby

SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

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Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion in SUSPIRIA

Suspiria (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. There is so much going on in Suspiria that one blog post cannot cover all the occultism that saturates this film. The Three Mothers motif, inspired by the work of Thomas DeQuincey, will find it’s own exegesis in a separate post. For now, let us focus our dark-adapted eye upon a particular set piece and give the Devil His due. And please, don’t think us mad until you have digested all what we are communicating to you here.

Suspiria 4When looking for the Devil in the Details in Suspiria, you cannot help but notice the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climactic scene. That such exquisite yet superfluous beauty as the male peacock exists at all in the world can be seen by some as proof positive of a beneficial Creator – a thumb print, if you will, of the work done by the hand of the Divine Artist. The Peacock is a symbol of Beauty, Vanity and, of course, Pride – Lucifer’s sin.

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The Fall

The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirred up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equaled the most High,
If he opposed; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Raised impious War in Heaven and Battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the Ethereal Sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,

From: Paradise Lost by John Milton

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The Fall

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A new opportunity presents itself…

In Suspiria, the presence of the Peacock with several marble spheres at it’s feet recalls certain pre-Islamic religious traditions such as the Gnostic Manichaeism philosophy, or the later Yazidi tradition wherein which the ‘Peacock Angel’ Melek Ta’us – an entity often mistakenly confused with the evil entity known as Shaitan / Satan / Iblis by Judeo-Christian and Muslim interpretation – is responsible for the 7 created worlds, and the 7 Heavens.

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The Yazidis are peace-loving monotheists, believing in God as creator of the world, which he has placed under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. The Peacock Angel , vowing to bow only to God the Almighty, refused to bow to God’s human creations – Adam & Eve. By refusing this direct order from the Almighty, this so-called “Fallen Angel” is granted rulership over the created world and is given the task of challenging humankind with all the difficulties of incarnated existence with it’s endless parade of Sighs, Tears and Darkness.

In Yazidi (Yezidi) tradition The Peacock Angel – named Azazel – as world-ruler, is Prince of this world – our created, material world; and if this world, with all it’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” is a shadow manifested by the deepest condensation of the divine light emanated by the Almighty, would it then be a complete error to call this entity the Prince of Darkness? Azazel is the one who causes both good and bad to befall individuals, and this ambivalent character is reflected in myths of his own temporary fall from God’s favour, before his remorseful tears extinguished the fires of his hellish prison and he was reconciled with God. As observed by more than one occultist, the Devil’s power lies in that ‘He suffers.”

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A Yazidi emblem with the Peacock Angel presiding over the created world. There are 3 plumes on the head (The Trinity),  7 red feathers (The Heptad of Angels), and 12 plumed eyes (The Zodiac).

In certain Gnostic traditions a reconciliation is made between God and the Devil.

We find a peacock idol presiding over several (five? the number of the Pentagram?) spheres in the climactic scene of Suspiria, just after we witness Madame Blanc, “the Vice Directress,” (wink, wink nod) of the Dance Academy and her coven of wicked witches invoking “Satanas.” The presence of  this idol is either coincidence or somebody did their occult homework. Or, perhaps, the art director was influenced by other, unseen forces?

 

 

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Count the number of “eyes” on the peacock’s tail.

Archon: Gnosticism will give some insight into The Hebdomad, the Seven Spheres or Heavens, often recognized in popular Occultism and Kabbalah as: Saturn – Cronus, Jupiter – Zeus, Venus – Aphrodite, Moon – Hekate/Diana, Mercury – Hermes, and Mars – Aries all gathered around the Sun/Sol – Apollo. Seven colors are also expressed by the spectrum, the degrees of manifest Light – a peacock’s rainbowed fan of categorized material expression of Spirit.

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Now, sometimes, when seeking out the Devil in the Details, you find the Devil looking right back out at you! Don’t drop your Tarot cards Minnie… but after a close observation of ‘Suspiria’  it appears the Peacock image in Our Lady of Sighs – Mater Suspiriorum’s – chambers has 15 “eyes” on it’s tail. Fifteen is of course the number of XV THE DEVIL card in the Tarot! 

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Whichever Tarot deck you use…

However you shuffle your cards…

THE DEVIL remains number XV !

The redemptive tears of the Peacock Angel…

Fifteen “eyes” on the peacock sculpture in SUSPIRIA…

THE DEVIL in the Tarot is numbered 15…

and, oh yes, the Hebrew letter attached to the XVth Arcanum of the Tarot – THE DEVIL card – is Ayin, which just happens to mean “an eye”.

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AYIN = Eye

The three DEVIL Tarot cards below (from three different packs) each carry a visible letter AYIN. We know our Tarot thoroughly and highly recomend it’s study.

Charms and decorations with eye-like symbols known as nazars, which are used to repel the evil eye, are a common sight across Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Greece, the Levant, Afghanistan, Southern Spain, and Mexico and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists.

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After crashing into said Art Deco peacock idol, Suzy Bannion – Our heroine in SUSPIRIA – manages to snatch a fallen peacock plumed stiletto from the overturned idol with which to dispatch the powerfully evil and wicked witch Mater Suspriorum, a.k.a. Helena Markos, by stabbing her through the neck. Mater Suspiriorum, Our Mother of Sighs, is pierced in the neck, the throat, the very reservoir of sighs! Silencing forever that corroded, blasphemous craw!

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Something about that Peacock just sticks in my craw !

But of course we do continue to sigh,

and to weep,

and to stare long and deep

into the gaping jaws of Time.

The religious persecutions and genocidal campaigns executed against the Kurdish Yazidi people of Iraq are horrendous and continue today. How often do you hear the name of the city of Mosul in Iraq in the news?  Mosul is the area closest to the largest Yazidi population in Iraq. You may recall the  2007 Mosul Massacre.

Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL

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Yazidi children have also been victims of Islamic terror and genocide.

For centuries the Yazidis have been tormented and accused of being “Devil-Worshippers.” Religious extremism in the form of the zealots of the so-called Islamic State and other forces in the region have caused untold miseries upon these people who have seen their people massacred and their children sold into sexual slavery. We must use caution so as not to pour gasoline on the fire by misrepresenting the Yazidi people as “Devil-Worshippers” in the Horror film sense of the term. Their tradition is an ancient one containing elements of Gnosticism, Sufism, Christianity and Islam – and yet is completely unique. Comparisons from a solely Christian or Islamic perspective can only result in misinterpretation and misunderstandings. It is it’s own Faith.  Please research the topic to educate yourself further.

Yazidi Woman Who Suffered IS Enslavement Lobbies Washington for Help : May 27, 2017

May we suggest:

If you have a taste for the Occult we suggest this video lecture:

Thelma and the Yezidi “Devil Worshippers”

Some few books are available…

‘Survival Among the Kurds; A History of the Yezidis’

by John S Guest

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Yazidi traditions have a strong emphasis on bodily purity.

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Yazidi gathering at their sacred site in Lalish.

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A Yazidi gathering. Yazidi traditions differ from those of their neighbors but they are most certainly not “Devil worshippers” as certain intolerant groups have claimed.

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Displaced Yazidis fleeing from genocide by the savages of the so-called Islamic State

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Islamic extremists give Yazidis only one choice: Convert or die.

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Yazidi genocide by Islamic zealots.

We await the apocalyptic splendor of a world without religiously motivated hate or genocide.

By: H. B. Gardner

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Satanic Cinema Sommelier; Our Favorite Devilish Films

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Peter Paul Rubens – Bacchus

A wine list of diabolical films with the most redeeming  value, or that are otherwise notable for interesting Satanic, Black Magic, Witchcraft, Pagan or Occult, content.

Some have aged well and are to be savored, while others have a distinct bite. A few have gone to vinegar but may still make an interesting salad dressing.

 Beware! We tried to avoid it but there may be a few spoilers! This list will be added to as time allows.

First, of course, are Cinema’s infamous “Unholy Trinity” of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen. We of course refer to the original films and not any remakes nor sequels, prequels or fecals. That is not to say that some of these sequels are not enjoyable, but these original films, and novels in the case of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist,  stand out as having had a widespread influence in popular culture regarding beliefs in an actual Devil, or Satan, and the powers of Evil.

Each of these three films have aged extremely well, are smooth but robust in taste, and have their own distinct flavor and bouquet. Each one was a smash hit at it’s time of release and have spawned any number of imitations, sequels, remakes, spin-offs and wannabes.

The seventies and eighties were arguably the best time for these films. However, none before or since, has had as visceral an impact as The Exorcist.

Our personal favorite is Rosemary’s Baby, so let’s begin there.

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Rosemary’s Baby ushered in the whole Devil Baby cinematic motif

Rosemary’s Baby

Satanic Sommelier:  A very expensive bottle of Château Margaux with savory notes and a strong finish! Too expensive? Try making a vodka blush in tribute to the Castevets! 

  • 2 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 3/4 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice (strained)
  • Dash Grenadine
  • Fill shaker 2/3 with fresh ice. Add ingredients. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a fresh sprig of Rosemary.

You can always celebrate the good tidings with champagne. (1968) Although this may first sound like a bit of an overstatement, this film and the book it came from caused millions of people in the 1960’s to seriously examine their religious beliefs and ideology. This was done deftly – in print and film – without any onscreen violence or gore. Hands must have surely trembled as they turned the final pages of this thriller when it was first released in 1967. The film, which followed the following year, closely adheres to the original novel in every way but has been brought to vivid and believable life through committed performances by the entire cast, especially Mia Farrow as Rosemary and Ruth Gordon who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet. This is the Mother of All Devil-Baby Movies and has spawned any number of imitations.

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The Exorcist works on many levels

The Exorcist

Satanic Sommelier: An expensive Scotch, neat, no ice necessary. (1973) What can we say here that hasn’t already been said? It is a tense, dark, psychological and spiritual Horror Drama. The scenes of  the possessed girl are deservedly famous, but it’s truly the spiritual crisis of the character of Father/Dr. Damien Karras (played by Jason Miller) which stands at the center of this gripping story. Father Damien Karras is a Jesuit priest who loses his faith and subsequently achieves a kind of perverse heroic redemption in his own self-destruction – or does he?

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The Omen echoed the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ motif and became a franchise

The Omen

Satanic Sommelier: A good but affordable Australian or Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon; we recommend Casillero del Diablo; or perhaps Newcastle beer. Enjoyable and easy to drink… but not every day. (1976) caused a good many people to start attending church or paying closer attention to the last chapter of The New Testament. A number of people went home and shaved their kid’s heads in order to inspect them for the Devil’s birthmark – 666. Spectacular death scenes which can be interpreted as coincidental “accidents” or the work of Evil forces. The trinity of Omen films is Satanic Cinema Canon and one could do worse than to watch all three in a video marathon.

♥♠ Other notable cinematic daemons (old to new) are:

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Häxan

Satanic Sommelier: Absinthe. (1922) Häxan is a strange creature that is also a real treasure. English title: Witchcraft Through the Ages, is a Swedish-Danish documentary-style silent horror film  based partly on the director’s study of the Malleus Malificarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors. Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatised sequences of perverted and criminal Diabolic rituals and tortures enforced by the Inquisition. We recommend the version narrated by William S. Burroughs because… well, William S. Burroughs. Link below:

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Veronica Lake is spellbinding!

I married a Witch

Wallace Wooley: I’m afraid you’ve got a hangover.                                                            Daniel: Don’t tell me what I’ve got! I invented the hangover. It was in 1892… B.C.

(1942) Witchcraft and love-spells that go awry… and a daddy who drinks. An amusing precursor to later endeavors such as ‘Bell, Book and Candle,’ and TV series ‘Bewitched’ (1964 – 1972) and ‘American Horror Story Season 3: Coven’ (2013).

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Veronica Lake casts a sexy spell in I Married a Witch

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The Satanic sommelier serves a cocktail to Jean Brooks in The 7th Victim.

The Seventh Victim (1943)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey. An old fashioned mystery thriller centered around a cult of Devil worshippers called Palladists. Though tame unto the point of near-boredom by today’s jaded cinematic standards, it still carries a cozy film noir accent. Also noteworthy for prefiguring future essays into horror cinema. The group of Palladists may have an affinity with later cinematic devil worshipping groups, such as in Rosemary’s Baby. The shower scene is said to have inspired Hitchcock’s notorious shower scene in PSYCHO…

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An intentionally diabolical horny silhouette appears in the shower scene in The Seventh Victim.

The final laws against Witchcraft in England were repealed in 1952, allowing witches to finally “come out of the (broom) closet.” Witchcraft became all the rage after Gerald Gardner wrote and published a couple of groundbreaking books on the subject as an underground Pagan religion. It’s popularity as the Wiccan religion has spread and been on the rise ever since.

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Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle

Satanic Sommelier: Mix up a Manhattan! A cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.  (1958) In the late 1950s, Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a modern-day witch living in New York City’s Greenwich Village. For some reason she decides to cast a love spell on Jimmy Stewart. Witchcraft and love-spells that go awry. Another inspiration for TV series ‘Bewitched’ (1964 – 1972) and ‘American Horror Story Season 3: Coven’ (2013).

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Patricia Jessel and Christopher Lee in Horror Hotel

Horror Hotel

Satanic Sommelier: Chardonnay, chilled. (1960) aka The City of the Dead. Features Christopher Lee (you will find his presence occurs often in our list!) as a college professor with more than a dabbler’s interest in Witchcraft.

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The Red death with a pack of Tarot cards.

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The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death  

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend Casillero del Diablo as your affordable go-to red wine for these films. (1964) Based upon the hypnotically perverse and lovely-dreadful poem by Edgar Allan Poe and starring the inimitable Vincent Price as a tyrannical 12th-century prince (a mix of Gilles De Rais and the Marquis De Sade) who is intrigued by a girl and takes her to live amid the immorality of his court where he compels her to join him in the “glories of Hell.”. 

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Eye of the Devil

Satanic Sommelier: Chilled Chardonnay. (1966) Is a slow paced but suspenseful occult mystery-thriller with seasonal Pagan sacrifice and witchcraft at it’s heart. Very good acting by a great cast (David Niven, Deborah Kerr, David Hemmings, Donald Pleasence) and effective storytelling keep you engaged in wondering what will happen next. However, if you’ve read Sir James Frazier’s The Golden Bough you’ll already know the outcome. Noteworthy for being the beautiful Sharon Tate’s first feature film. Her character is mysterious and intriguing. Regrettable that her talented life (and the lives of several others) was cut abruptly short in unspeakable circumstances by the murderous Manson Family cult in August of 1969.  A wave of weirdness will assail your mind if you think too much of connecting the occult dots between: ‘Eye of the Devil’ – Sacrifice, or ritual murder – Sharon Tate – the year 1966 – Roman Polanski – ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – The Devil – Mia Farrow – The Beatles – The Manson Family cult – John Lennon – The Dakota building in New York – etc…

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Sharon Tate offers a sacrifice in the suspenseful ‘Eye of the Devil.’

 

The Devil Rides Out

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic, or have a Guinness or Newcastle. (1968) We know this is hard to believe but Christopher Lee is NOT a Satanist in this film! …but he sure seems to know an awful lot about black magic! Charles Gray (Bond villain Blofeld, and the Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is the Satanic High Priest-Magician in this Hammer horror thriller. The opening credits are fantastic! 

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Are you ready for unholy communion? To Taste the Blood of Dracula!

Taste the Blood of Dracula

Satanic Sommelier: A very rich, dry, full-bodied Merlot. Or, try a Bloody Mary. (1970) Christopher Lee-as-Count Dracula developed into the Devil’s avatar in Hammer’s Horror films. A group of dissipated men try dabbling in the occult – Hellfire Club style – to add something new to spice-up their drab debaucheries… with dreadful consequences. Russell Hunter as the effeminate Felix the pimp and Ralph Bates as Lord Courtly lend the film a tasty Là-Bas and Hellfire Club feel. The black magic elements are an obvious and key element to this good vs. evil story.

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Felix the pimp has difficulty managing his charges in ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’.

 

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You’ll discover many dirty habits in Ken Russell’s The Devils

The Devils  

Satanic Sommelier: Difficult to choose… Perhaps a very expensive bottle of Château Margaux with savory notes and a strong finish! Too expensive? Try a French Bordeaux. No? Maybe Absinthe? Chartreuse? Otherwise, Bloody Mary’s for everyone! (1971) Excellent film – if you can find it. Directed by Ken Russell and banned for years, it is still usually available only in edited forms. Based on actual events known as the  Loudon Possessions. A seventeenth century “nuns gone wild.” Hysteria, repression, obsession, possession, and political intrigue leads us to the discovery of the real devils in society. The art direction is fabulous and the film has a fantastic look all it’s own. The best DVD release so far (from BFI) can be found through Amazon UK. The special features include some footage from the infamous and always edited “Rape of Christ” sequence, in which possessed nuns depose a crucifix in order to have their way with it. We could rave on and on about how marvelous this film is, and how horrifyingly relevant it remains today! 

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Oh yes! And then some!

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Dracula AD 1972

Satanic Sommelier: Incense and peppermint schnapps. (1972) Claimed to be a favorite film of Tim Burton. A Satanic ritual performed by hippies using the dried blood of Dracula himself brings Christopher Lee back to (from?) the Undead. Or is it the un-undead at this point?? Just as in the previous year’s Taste the Blood of Dracula! The early 70’s were a time when dabbling in occultism and black magic were de rigueur. Peter Cushing is present as a descendent of Van Helsing, of course. 

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With more than a touch of evil, Orson Welles gives us Necromancy

Necromancy  aka The Witching

Satanic Sommelier: Any Black Tower brand wine, perhaps Pinot Noir, as we remember Mr Welles in the Black Tower wine commercials on TV back in the day. (1972) Orson Welles is the leader of a group dabbling in the Dark Arts. A  not-so-great film, but gives you that ’70’s occult paranoia vibe which everybody was dipping into. 

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Orville’s coming-out party is not to be missed in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

Satanic Sommelier: Rum & Coke or Vodka cranberry. (1972) CSPWDT is sort of like Night of the Living Dead, but with a young theater group dabbling in diabolism and necromancy. Flawed but effective 70’s gem with some really good moments.

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The Satanic Rites of Dracula

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic for this very British film. (1974)  Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, ’nuff said. But with the added thrill of an elite Satanic fraternity planning to release a plague on the unsuspecting earth, with Christopher Lee’s Dracula (suffering from a severe case of ennui, no less) at the center! 

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Rich weirdos get their Hellfire Club kicks in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

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Peter Cushing knows that a crucifix is much more effective than that sissy little gun in The Satanic Rites of Dracula

 

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The Wicker Man

Satanic Sommelier: Mead, or a good Celtic brew. (1975) Classic! Must see film starring Christopher Lee (starting to see a pattern here?!). A conservative Christian policeman (Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie) is sent to investigate the report of a missing child on a small Scottish island. He is scandalized by the local Pagan culture and it’s sexualized rituals which are overseen by Lord Summerisle (Lee at his best). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child. 

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Race with the Devil

Satanic Sommelier: This one is strictly beer. (1975) Two couples vacationing together in an R.V. from Texas to Colorado are terrorized after they witness a murder during a Satanic ritual. Peter Fonda stars. A heartwarming 70’s touchstone. 

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Nastassja Kinski and Christopher Lee in a Devil flick. Sounds like popcorn night to me!

To the Devil a Daughter

Satanic Sommelier: A reasonable but quality Cabernet sauvignon or Merlot. May we suggest our go-to Devil Wine: Casillero del Diablo, produced by Concha y Toro. (1976) Three reasons to watch this film:

1. Christopher Lee as a Satanic priest – he does it so well! Look at that smile at a nasty scene near the beginning of the film!,

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2. A 15-year-old full frontal nude Nastassja Kinski  (we also love her dressed as a nun),

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Nastassja Kinski

3. and… some rather atypical Satanic ritual imagery.

 

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Paula Sheppard is disturbed in ‘Alice, Sweet Alice’.

Alice, Sweet Alice

Satanic Sommelier: A cheap, full-bodied Merlot with acrid tones that sting the nose and leaves your tongue and teeth purple because you passed out from over-drinking before brushing your teeth… but every once-in-a-while you pick up a bottle because it does the job. Gato Negro will do. (1976) A frightful 70’s American slasher gem reminiscent of Dario Argento’s giallo shockers. This creeper focuses on murders that occur around two young sisters and the younger one’s (’80’s beauty Brooke Shields) first communion, and it positively spills over with bloody murder and over-the-top Catholic paranoia. Applause and thanks are due to Jane Lowry (as Aunt Annie DeLorenze) who was really going for the Oscar in this project!

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“Oh my GOD!!”

While not explicitly Satanic, Alice Sweet Alice sure feels blasphemous when taken in it’s grisly entirety. The creepy cat-loving landlord was played by Alphonso DeNoble. According to director Alfred Sole, Alphonso made extra money by dressing up as a priest and hanging around cemeteries. Elderly widows would ask “Father Alphonso” for a blessing and offer him a donation for the church in return. Did you know that Linda Miller (who plays Alice and Karen’s mother) is the daughter of Jackie Gleason and was married to Jason Miller, who portrayed Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist?

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Brooke Shields as Karen is ready for unholy communion in Alice Sweet Alice’

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Sometimes we just can’t get enough SUSPIRIA !

Suspiria

Satanic Sommelier: Affordable but drinkable Italian red wine… and hashish (smoke ’em if you got ’em). (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. Dario Argento’s masterpiece. Note the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climax – the Peacock is of course a symbol of Pride (Lucifer’s sin). The Three Mothers motif is carried on in the sequels Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007).  Read our Occult-Horror geek article on Suspiria here: Suspiria; in the Eye of the Peacock

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John Carradine in The Sentinel

 

The Sentinel

Satanic Sommelier: Whatever your poison may be, drink plenty of it!(1977)  The gateway to Hell requires a vigilant ward. The requirements for the position are a rather particular sin. The Sentinel is kind of like a blend of Hell House and Rosemary’s baby with some Law & Order mixed in. If it is tedious at times you can amuse yourself by spotting the many big names in it, enough to give even a jaded movie goer pause: Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, and Beverly D’Angelo in…. well, an unforgettable scene. Make-up effects by the legendary Dick Smith of The Exorcist fame. This somewhat gritty ’70’s devil movie has a politically incorrect climax to creep you out.

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Clint Howard gets harsh treatment in ‘Evilspeak’

Evilspeak

Satanic Sommelier: A very good beer. (1981) This one is rather unique as it is the first (and perhaps only) film to use the high-tech demon-summoning-computer motif (this was the beginning of the 80’s when home computers became available) by the bullied young man out for revenge. Think Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ but with a male misfit, instead of a young woman in the lead, who turns to the Devil for unholy revenge. Practically in a category by itself, innit? Enjoyable but often overlooked for it’s eccentricities, Evilspeak is a rare 80’s gem that is delightfully nasty. The scenes of the cruelties by young men in a military academy who gang up on a weaker one are especially unpleasant with gratuitous shame. This film carries some rather heavy Satanic  motifs with a vicious and gory climax to boot, which caused it to be banned for a number of years in the UK. One of the few Satanic horror films which draws upon the less popular porcine symbolism of the Devil. The “evil” Egyptian god Set is associated with pig iconography (among other animal totems). Almost want to take a shower / bath after watching this one… almost.

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‘Evilspeak’ 1981

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Robert DeNiro and Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart

Angel Heart  

Satanic Sommelier: Jack Daniels or Jim Beam (any way you like) for you “Hairy Angel” types. (1987) Excellent. Atmospheric. Pulls you in and won’t let go. Mickey Rourke in his prime. Based on the novel ‘Falling Angel’ by William Hjortsberg. The novel is centered in New York and never travels to New Orleans like in the film. The book  depicts a Black Mass that takes place in an abandoned New York subway. Well, that scene didn’t really make it into the film but we get some good Voodoo ceremony here along with a (at the time it was released) controversial and passionate sex scene which is interspersed with images akin to the novel’s orgiastic depiction of the Black Mass.

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DeNiro is unforgettable as Mr Louis Cyphere in Angel Heart

 

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Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Satanic Sommelier: Drink something really good… until it hurts. (1987 & 1988) Are very significant films in their dramatic revisioning of Hell, it’s demons, landscape and all their accompanying mythology. This is all due to writer/director/visionary/artist Clive Barker, and the many cinematic artists who helped realize his nightmarish ideas of Hell on film. Based upon Clive Barker’s novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ we discover a deal-with-the-devil story twisted with perverted family relations. The simple Faustian premise is amped up to exquisite extremes of Hellishness where Pleasure and Pain become indistinguishable. The Cenobites, perhaps the most unique demonic figures seen since the Fin de siècle,  are “Demons to some, Angels to others,” offering us to taste their pleasures of sweet suffering.

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Prince of Darkness

Satanic Sommelier: That wild green fiendy liquid in the capsule compels us to select Midori for this one. (1987)  Although certainly not a “great” film, this one has a seriously effective creep factor. A strange discovery is made in the basement of an old church (the aforementioned capsule containing a mysteriously active green liquid) and there is a team of scientists sent to investigate. Alice Cooper appears as one of the demented street people being attracted to the church. Do not watch it alone late at night. This is a movie that compels us to switch the lights on after waking from a nightmare and needing to make our way to the restroom in the dark. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness) there is just something really disturbing about this movie. “Hello? Hello? I’ve got a message for you, and you’re not going to like it…”

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Not exactly what most people have in mind when they say they are going to The Church.

The Church

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine, Casillero del Diablo, or whatever’s on the shelf.(1989) (Italian title: La chiesa), also known as Cathedral of Demons or Demon Cathedral, is an Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi. It was produced by Dario Argento (along with a list of others). Asia Argento is a young girl in the film. Some nice set pieces, demons, Satanic rituals and plenty of gore. There are some definite nods to ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ including a Devil Rape scene and an old couple patterned on Minnie and Roman Castevet that tour The Church. You should definitely go to The Church, it’s good for the soul… or something.

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The Sect offers diabolical face-lifts

The Devil’s Daughter

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine or German Riesling. (1991) (Italian title: La Setta), also known as The Sect and Demons 4, is another Italian horror film co-written and produced by Dario Argento and directed by Michele Soavi. The film stars Kelly Curtis (sister of Jamie Lee Curtis: ‘Halloween’ 1978) and Herbert Lom. It’s a film that follows in the footsteps of Rosemary’s Baby but with some truly bizarre twists, some surrealistic dreamlike and nightmarish imagery, along with some gore.

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A mystery is revealed in ‘The Ninth Gate.’

The Ninth Gate

Satanic Sommelier: A smooth and satisfying Spanish or Portuguese red wine. (1999) A Satanic thriller directed by Roman Polanski and starring Johnny Depp (“Shut up and take my money!”). Based upon the 1993 novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Johnny Depp is the unscrupulous antique book dealer Dean Corso, who finds himself entangled in a mystery surrounding an ancient grimoire known as The Nine Gates. The Tarot-like illustrations in the mysterious book around which the story revolves are intriguing. The film is beautifully shot, well acted and steeped in Occult and Satanic essences, but it may leave some viewers perplexed at the end the first time they watch it. There is a deeper reading to the story regarding Dean Corso’s journey which is not explicitly spelled out for you (however, it is illustrated!). Worth a few viewings to think about and really appreciate the intricacy of the story.

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Lost Souls  

Satanic Sommelier: It tries to be champagne but it’s just a low-calorie beer. (2000)  Although not a great movie it sure looks good. An interesting, but slow and subtle, take on the coming of the AntiChrist. Winona Ryder plays the lead role. John Hurt has a small but effective role as an exorcist.

 

 

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The House of the Devil  

Satanic Sommelier: A good Californian red wine to go with your “mushroom” pizza. (2009)  Inspired by the Satanic Panic of the 1980s; the story feeds on the fears people had at that time. The film takes place and even appears like it was filmed in the ’80’s. A very good, slow burning thriller with a Grand Guignol finish.

 

 

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The Lords of Salem

Satanic Sommelier: Beer, and/or Magic mushrooms with a gin & tonic, or whisky, chaser. (2012) Rob Zombie’s dark hallucinogenic trip into the weird world of witchcraft. Strategically avoiding the usual tired old tropes, this film takes us back to ancient blasphemous heresy for starters before relocating us into modern Salem, Mass. where young DJ Heidi (played by Sherri Moon Zombie) is ensnared in the ancient sorcery of her family’s blood curse. Worth seeing for the witches played by Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson and Patricia Quinn (Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show) and some bizarre artistic moments.

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American Horror Story Season 3: COVEN

(2013) Satanic Sommelier: Bourbon. An American cable TV drama series. A darkly funny and smart post-sexual revolution feminist return to those old Witchcraft and love potion flicks of the 40’s and 50’s. But this is American Horror Story – so yes, there is sex and plenty of blood and violence – albeit with an edge of black humor. A strong female cast exhibits the thrills of using potent magical powers. Which Witch will reign Supreme?

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BOO! The Witch!

The Witch

Satanic Sommelier: Guiness, a good local brew (beer) or an Irish red like Killians. (2015)  The Witch is an atmospheric period piece set in 1630 New England. A  folktale saturated with fearful religious paranoia that inexorably tears apart a family of English Puritan settlers trying to survive on the edge of a vast forest after being banished from the safe confines of their colony. The fear of Satan’s power may be real or imagined or seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Committed performances and some unsettling imagery of classical witchcraft (so rare in cinema) make this film a must-see for those who move in certain circles… around a bonfire… beneath a full moon.