Coronavirus: Black Magic Goes Viral? Part 2: A Vincent Price Double Feature

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By: H.B. Gardner

Current events have confirmed that we are indeed living the plot lines of two films starring Vincent Price.  If self-quarantine and social distancing has you losing your mind like the protagonist in an Edgar Allan Poe story, then you could do far worse than to delight in a diabolical double feature starring Uncle Vinnie.

Both films, The Masque of the Red Death and The Last Man on Earth are from 1964. But these films stand today, each to a certain degree, as prophetical and horrifically relevant to the present coronavirus / COVID-19 (or, can we now say -20?) global pandemic. Let’s take a quick, spoiler-free glimpse at these two films before looking deeper into our current plague.

The Last Man on Earth

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Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan in The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth is a 1964 black-and-white post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film based on the 1954 novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  I Am Legend was remade in 1971 as The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston, and in 2007 with Will Smith. Matheson later said the Vincent Price film was the most faithful adaptation of his book, but he also called the result “inept” and used a pen name for his screenplay.

Humanity is all but wiped out in a global pandemic, a bacterial plague, in which the dead, if not cremated, return as the vampiric undead. The infected are dying too fast and in such great numbers that they must be disposed of via burning pits in mass cremations. All alone, Dr. Robert Morgan (Price) spends his time hunting down the vampires during the day to pound wooden stakes through their hearts, and defending himself from within his home at night when they arise to attack him. Garlic and mirrors ward them off for a time.

In what appears to be an eerie coincidence to our current Coronavirus pandemic, Morgan hypothesizes that he is immune to the bacteria because he was bitten by an infected vampire bat when he was stationed in Panama, which introduced a diluted form of the plague into his blood. In an article shared below we will see the Wuhan coronavirus connection to the bat. Price’s character eventually meets another person and the potential for a cure using Dr. Morgan’s blood – which has built up antibodies to the virus – is attempted, just as is being considered now for the coronavirus. The Last Man on Earth is available to watch for free on Youtube, so what are you waiting for?

“…these films stand today, each to a certain degree, as prophetical and horrifically relevant to the present COVID-19 global pandemic.”

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No one is left untouched by The Masque of The Red Death!

The Masque of The Red Death

Vincent Price is indelibly linked with the macabre tales of Edgar Allan Poe, and this is one of our personal favorites. Price is elegantly evil (as usual) as Prince Prospero – a late medieval period character who is part Gilles de Rais and part Marquis de Sade. As a plague known as The Red Death ravages the land, Prince Prospero invites his privileged, decadent, aristocratic guests to a grand party where he promises protection from the disease without – and much debauchery within – his castle’s walls. But the prince is a serious Satanist longing to go beyond the limits of even his own depravity! He brings a young village girl – along with her father and a young suitor – to his palace as amusement for his guests. Even the prince’s wife gets serious about dabbling in the Dark Arts of Diabolism and Demonolatry.

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Hazel Court brands her breast with the first inverted cross in satanic cinema history! The Masque of The Red Death.

What strikes us here in connection with the Coronavirus is the sheer susceptibility of everyone – no matter how powerful or privileged – to the whims of bacterium! Leaders of nations, royalty, the wealthy, clergy, the religious, people of all nations and races, even healthcare professionals are all in the grip of pestilence when it arises because it has far-reaching effects upon every level of society. We won’t spoil the ending – or the inclusion of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Hop-Frog’ as a side story. But we highly recommend this one as – beneath it’s amusing, vulgar, psychedelic theatricality – it carries a deep truth.

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In an epilogue, the Red Death is seen playing with his Tarot cards with the girl who had escaped the massacre of the remaining villagers. Other similarly cloaked figures then gather around him, each wearing a different colour: the White Death, the Yellow Death, the Golden Death, the Blue Death, the Violet Death and the Black Death.

“Sic transit gloria mundi”

(Latin for “Thus passes the glory of the world”)

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90094919_10217946751479572_3704477505470595072_nCommunist Chinese censorship has far reaching tentacles…

…and pincers, and fangs. Actually, many political systems, governments and ideologies rely on fear and ignorance for fuel these days. In part 1 of this article: Coronavirus: Black Magic Goes Viral? we mused, in an admittedly “not-too-serious” manner, upon the Chinese sorcery aspect of Ku or Gu poisoning and how it relates to the Wuhan Coronavirus / COVID-19 as a pestilence born from humans  meddling with things they are unable to control. We would just like to reflect here upon the certain knowledge of communist China’s well known censorship and propaganda machines, its merciless suppression of anything outside communist party approval, and the control its almost limitless economical weight has over the entire world. Don’t believe everything just because you hear or see it on the nightly news, TV talk shows, or media. All of it is doubtlessly being promoted by big money; and these days the biggest money is in China. Look at history, consider what happened to Tibet, and try – we implore you – to think for yourself. We know that is asking a lot in this day and age; but it is imperative.

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The “Masque” of The “Red” Death

There is much to unpack on this topic but we would point those with a serious interest to the following links; and to the censored text to an article by Chinese researchers pasted below.

Link:

Yes, the Virus Came From Wuhan

“And what puzzles us most, in this storm of information, impressions, opinions, expertise, real or alleged, is that no one is asking China, a country with an already horrible record on humans rights and disinformation, to explain plainly what happens in those research centers, one at less than 300 meters from the Wuhan market and the other at only 12 km.”

Link:

Experts think bats are the source of the Wuhan coronavirus. At least 4 pandemics have originated in these animals.

“”Poorly regulated live-animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts into the human population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.”

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“…in mid-February two Chinese researchers, Dr. Botao Xiao from South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, and Dr. Lei Xiao, from Wuhan University of Science and Technology, recognized bats as the real source of the infection. Interestingly, the paper has since disappeared from the international scholarly data base Research Gate, not the first such incident for texts from China the CCP does not like,”

The Censored article that disappeared:

The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus〉 (Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao)

The 2019-nCoV coronavirus has caused an epidemic of 28,060 laboratory-confirmed infections in human including 564 deaths in China by February 6, 2020. Two descriptions of the virus published on Nature this week indicated that the genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis. It was critical to study where the pathogen came from and how it passed onto human.

An article published on The Lancet reported that 41 people in Wuhan were found to have the acute respiratory syndrome and 27 of them had contact with Huanan Seafood Market. The 2019-nCoV was found in 33 out of 585 samples collected in the market after the outbreak. The market was suspicious to be the origin of the epidemic, and was shut down according to the rule of quarantine the source during an epidemic.

The bats carrying CoV ZC45 were originally found in Yunnan or Zhejiang province, both of which were more than 900 kilometers away from the seafood market. Bats were normally found to live in caves and trees. But the seafood market is in a densely-populated district of Wuhan, a metropolitan of ~15 million people. The probability was very low for the bats to fly to the market. According to municipal reports and the testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors, the bat was never a food source in the city, and no bat was traded in the market. There was possible natural recombination or intermediate host of the coronavirus, yet little proof has been reported.

Was there any other possible pathway? We screened the area around the seafood market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus. Within ~280 meters from the market, there was the Wuhan Center for Disease Control Prevention (WHCDC). WHCDC hosted animals in laboratories for research purpose, one of which was specialized in pathogens collection and identification. In one of their studies, 155 bats including Rhinolophus affinis were captured in Hubei province, and other 450 bats were captured in Zhejiang province. The expert in collection was noted in the Author Contributions. Moreover, he was broadcasted for collecting viruses on nation-wide newspapers and websites in 2017 and 2019. He described that he was once by attacked by bats and the blood of a bat shot on his skin. He knew the extreme danger of the infection so he quarantined himself for 14 days. In another accident, he quarantined himself again because bats peed on him. He was once thrilled for capturing a bat carrying a live tick.

Surgery was performed on the caged animals and the tissue samples were collected for DNA and RNA extraction and sequencing. The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were source of pathogens. They were only ~280 meters from the seafood market. The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic. It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.

The second laboratory was ~12 kilometers from the seafood market and belonged to Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. This laboratory reported that the Chinese horseshoe bats were natural reservoirs for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) which caused the 2002-3 pandemic. The principle investigator participated in a project which generated a chimeric virus using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, and reported the potential for human emergence. A direct speculation was that SARS-CoV or its derivative might leak from the laboratory.

In summary, somebody was entangled with the evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in high risk biohazardous laboratories. Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.

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Note: We do not consider the Chinese people at fault for the viral contagion. It is the lack of transparency, censorship and disinformation of the repressive communist government that needs to be addressed.

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Coronavirus: Black Magic Goes Viral?

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By H.B.Gardner

In this article on a serious topic, we go a-musing on the themes of occult poisons, satanic plague, and an occult horror theory of the Nova Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a form of Oriental black magic …and the ancient Chinese idea of “Let your food be your medicine.”

“Bugs on a plate”. That’s one interpretation of Gu or Ku, the ancient Chinese ideogram pictured here. The actual strokes of the first character above depicts three “insects” in a “pot” or “bowl. The bottommost portion of the character is the same as for a bowl or dish such as one will find on a menu or in a cook book in Japan or China; but it may be more broadly interpreted as a vessel. The simplified modern form (on the right) depicts one bug in a pot or jar. “Bug” or “insect”  is a rather oversimplified term here as, in this case, the characters also encapsulate a wider range of creatures including snakes, spiders, worms,  scorpions, centipedes, frogs and other creepy-crawly “pests”.

The meaning of Gu or Ku has some various interpretations; but it mostly relates to a slow-working venomous poison of the black magical kind which we may loosely interpret as “Chinese sorcery” or “witchcraft”. This line of thinking may also lead us to extrapolate upon an esoteric interpretation of these Chinese characters as not so much as “bugs in a vessel”, but “worms in the belly / body”, suggesting a nefarious viral or parasitic invasion of the human body. To suggest our theoretical linking of such sinister connections between Chinese black magic and the COVID-19 or new coronavirus, permit us to endarken you on some  ideas in “traditional Asian medicine and sorcery” as we look for the Devil In the Details, and offer some interesting insight into some possible contributing factors to this confounding viral epidemic.

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“This art of black magic …is usually focused on poisoning at a distance, creating disease, controlling a lover or for causing death.”

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1932’s extremely racist The Mask of Fu Manchu (with Boris Karloff as the evil Chinese doctor) has a scene with this type of Oriental Black Magic used for nefarious purposes. A “venomous serpent” is caused to bite a black slave whose blood is then drawn to be included in a magical serum to gain control over another.

“Gu or Ku is an ancient form of oriental black magic in which toxins are concentrated in order to wield occult powers over others.”

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Oracle Script for Gu “Poison” or “Bewitch”.

This Gu or Ku is an ancient form of oriental black magic in which toxins are concentrated in order to wield occult powers over others. This has been depicted onscreen in 1932’s The Mask of Fu Manchu, starring Boris Karloff as the nefarious villain planning to conquer the world.yjimage

The Chinese ideogram itself dates back to the 14th century BCE Shang Dynasty bone oracle inscriptions meaning “poison” or “bewitch”. The typical method of this Ku sorcery is the collecting of various venomous or poisonous creatures such as snakes, lizards, centipedes, scorpions, and worms which are enclosed within a vessel in order to fight it out. The survivor in this death match – having killed and devoured the others – is then considered to be extremely potent in its toxicity by having absorbed the poisons of the others. This creature may then serve as a prized familiar spirit and/or as the main ingredient of either a love potion or toxic poison, usually administered in food or drink to an unknowing victim.

“Its a serious problem. Wild animal farming to supply exotic substances for “health tonics” for China’s wealthy elite – a “small percent” of China’s population which is nearly equivalent to the entire population of Japan.”

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Seal Script for Gu “Poison” or “Bewitch”.

This magical practice is reputedly often accomplished in the southern regions of China in the hot and humid season (5th day of the 5th lunar month),  which certainly provides an ideal condition for the growth of bacteria.

This art of vengeful black magic and it’s particular methods is usually focused on poisoning at a distance (in both space and time), creating disease, controlling a lover, or for causing death. Descriptions in antique Chinese texts report incidents of slow poisoning and death, sometimes weeks after imbibing the toxic dose. Medicinal antidotes are also often cited such as ginger and licorice root. (This makes visceral sense as, here in Japan, sashimi is served with pickled ginger as well as wasabi horseradish as condiments to aid the safe digestion of raw fish).

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The occult works of Kenneth Grant offer some knowledge on The Cult of the Ku.

“Descriptions in antique Chinese texts report incidents of slow poisoning and death, sometimes weeks after imbibing the toxic dose.”

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Above: Chinese coins depicting the 5 poisons.

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1964’s The Masque of the Red Death

COVID-19

The “New Bug” Going Around

Now, another mysterious virus has seemingly arisen to spread rapidly over the globe. With the SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks still fresh in memory, the recent news of the Wuhan Nova Coronavirus COVID-19 spreading outwards from China – with over 6,000 reported cases and causing over a hundred to die (update from original time of writing: as of March 17th there are now 7426 deaths reported globally); and the recent estimates pointing to the virus reaching its peak at the end of this April or May (at the time of writing) – we thought it of interest to outline the occult links to this issue because, in our estimation, there are always esoteric links to every imaginable and unimaginable phenomenon.

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Artist: William Blake. Women before a blazing cauldron with a child’s corpse. A magical attempt at resurrection?

There is no telling with 100% certainty where this coronavirus disease originated – whether from a fish and wild animal market in Wuhan as many have speculated, or from a nearby infectious disease lab where – much like the Ku spirit nurtured in a vessel containing centipedes and snakes – viruses are cultured and grown in Petrie dishes. We can say that – whether by accident or insidious design – this “New Bug“ has escaped its containment vessel and somehow managed to jump the species barrier.

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Dogs and bunnies for sale at a Chinese food market. This is no pet shop. Feces, urine, blood, pus, parasites etc.. are showered down from cage to crowded cage upon suffering animals.

Note that the viruses mentioned here have all been animal linked diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)  SARS coronavirus (identified in 2003) is thought to be an animal virus from an as-yet-uncertain animal reservoir, perhaps bats, that spread to other animals (civet cats) and first infected humans in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002. 

MERS = Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome came from camels in contact with humans. These are animal viruses which have somehow been transferred to humans.

The Ebola crisis that happened in Africa is also linked to bats.

“In China it is often the case that animals sold for food consumption in certain open markets are often crammed tightly together in conditions that most would consider unthinkable.”

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A Satanic plague is unleashed upon the world by a circle of wealthy elites in 1973’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

In China it is often the case that animals sold for food consumption in certain open markets are often crammed tightly together in conditions that most would consider unthinkable. Its a serious problem. Wild animal farming to supply exotic substances for “health tonics” for China’s wealthy elite – a “small percent” of China’s population which is nearly equivalent to the entire population of Japan. Consider the energy of whatever you imbibe or digest as literally in-forming the substance of your being. The food we consume has an effect on our entire system. This is both magical thinking and scientific fact.

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How about some bat soup?

“Let Your Food Be Your Medicine”

But it isn’t only for rare black magical purposes for which certain exotic creatures are sought as ingredients in Asian culture. There are also medicines and cuisine to consider! It seems to us no mere coincidence that the new corona virus outbreak happened to coincide with celebrations for the 2020 Chinese Lunar New Year holiday of January 25th! A holiday which sees the massive movement of people traveling to visit family and loved ones for special family gatherings and special meals.

“China has a very ancient and venerable history of traditional medicine.”

The first thing to be understood is that – like most Asian and Eastern cultures – China has a very ancient and venerable history of traditional medicine. In China, one significant idea regarding one’s health is expressed as “Let your food be your medicine”. This, in conjunction with the lists of exotic ingredients for traditional medicinal formulae, has sometimes led to the hunting and near extinction of certain species of animals such as the black rhinoceros, musk deer, tigers, snow leopards and all manner of beasts and birds in order to obtain portions of these creatures and their organs which are reputed to cure particular ailments or illnesses, or to give certain desired health benefits.

“This, in conjunction with the lists of exotic ingredients for traditional medicinal formulae, has sometimes led to the hunting and near extinction of certain species of animals…”

China Outbreak Lessons from SARS

Man looking at raccoon dogs (Yes, there are such things.) at a market in China.

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Fire burn and Cauldron bubble: Witches adding a cockerel and a snake into a blazing vessel. Sorcery performed for fortune, fame and power, for cursing or for love, appears to be systemic to the human race.

It comes as no surprise that the epicenter of the current corona virus outbreak has constellated around a fish and wild animal market in Wuhan, China – a region which also happens to host a nearby disease lab. This market had all manner of beasts in cramped and dirty cages all stacked together in highly unsanitary conditions where their immediate slaughter for food could also be carried out. Blood, urine, feces, pus and the standard sicknesses, viruses and parasites natural to wild animals all blending and stewing in a melange of filth. This is not so unlike a giant Ku poison pot, an unwholesome alembic or Petrie dish, if you will. Which brings us back around to the poison magic known as Ku. The witches cauldron containing “eye of newt and toe of frog” appears to be a universal phenomenon. Sorcery performed for fortune, fame and power, for cursing or for love, appears to be systemic to the            human race.

“Witchcraft performed for fortune, fame and power, for cursing or for love, appears to be systemic to the human race.”

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Asian centipedes grow large and carry poison.

It is impossible to say how many people engage in the riskier food and health practices constellating about these potential centers of pestilence. But it is likely a smaller portion of the population which knowingly imbibes or absorbs these substances. A simple search online will turn your stomach to watch Asian men eating live baby mice or pretty young women tasting centipedes, for instance. Far fewer are those who dare to dabble in poisons such as in Ku magic. But greedy and intemperate scientists and the powers which support and finance them – not only in Asia but worldwide – know no bounds when it comes to dabbling in these unseen forces which are ever at the ready to exploit a weakness in the human immune system. While many folks are content to try an occasional exotic delicacy, the truly nefarious deeds are being done in labs and factory farms around the globe, with or without government approval. 

We must also admit the deplorable conditions of our own factory farming practices – and of puppy mills – in the good old USA and other Western nations. The wretched un-lives lived out by animals farmed and raised for meat, eggs, dairy and pets are also swarming with filth, disease and suffering beyond the limits of any diabolical horror movie. Until people wake up to these heinous practices the suffering will continue, and the chances for potential outbreaks of disease loom imminently over the land.

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Vincent Price meets The Masque of The Red Death (1964)

The Affair of the Poisons

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Catherine Deshayes, aka “La Voisin” was burned at the stake for being involved in poisoning and satanizing.

Sometimes an outbreak of magical poisoning may be the result of a more amorous type. There is always the possibility of passionate intrigue, occultism and love spells gone awry. Attempts at poisoning, or concocting aphrodisiacs or “Spanish Fly”, such as the Affair of the Poisons (1677 – 1682) is one famous example that scandalized the court of King Louis the XIV. The Sun King’s own mistress, Madame de Montespan, bought aphrodisiacs to remain in the king’s favor and performed Black Masses with Catherine Deshayes, a known fortune teller, poisoner and abortionist, known as “La Voisin”, who was later burned at the stake in 1680. Eventually the scandal and criminal cases surrounding The Affair of the Poisons led to the execution of 36 people while many others received life sentences or were sent to the galleys.

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Habushu is a liquor from Okinawa in which a venomous pit viper has been steeped.

Germ Warfare, Infectious Disease & Pandemic

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Great book on the Plague. Recommended reading!

Germ warfare is nothing new. It’s been going on for centuries. Throughout history, invaders have catapulted the bodies of plague victims over city walls. Wells have been poisoned with animal carcasses. The Black Death, which spread the Plague from Asia and wiped out 30% to 60% of Europe’s population in less than a decade, is a devastating example of the effects of a pandemic. We must ask ourselves if the world is due for another one – whether by nature or by design. Or perhaps certain systems of control and authority wish to reduce the surplus population by eradicating the weaker members of society, such as those with compromised immune systems. It is certainly something that has happened before. The medieval witch hysteria in Europe was sparked by the Plague and sections of society were quickly accused and executed.

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A satanic new plague is to released on the world at Dracula’s command! The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

In Asia, where the serpent – often epitomized as the Dragon – is revered, even worshipped, as well as consumed as a sacramental or potency enhancing meal or beverage, there is definitely a different psychology at work than in the Christianized West. Christianity has long demonized the serpent as an emblem of evil. But the consumption of the flesh and blood of a deity is not unknown in the West as anybody who has attended Holy Mass or communion in a church should be aware.

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Black Magic 1975, Horror film from Hong Kong exhibits Chinese sorcery known as Ku.

Evil certainly exists but the concept of “sin” remains a foreign idea in East Asia; there is more a line of thought of  shamefully “missing the mark” or “failing to achieve” rather than the imposed guilt of “sin”. Christianity is a tree that has never taken firm root in Japanese or Chinese soil. And wherever it has taken root, it is invariably only surface deep and rather frail and sickly. In a way the West has infected the East with its religion just as coronavirus is spreading outwards from Asia.

Whatever the origin of the current COVID-19 outbreak, it is certainly linked to human contact with animal virus. Whether this happened by accident or on purpose (for the record we suspect the inevitable corporate greed and stupidity of humankind over the admittedly more intriguing occult means) the scorpion has crawled / the bat has flown / and the serpent has slithered out of the pot! And it is probably already too late to clap the lid back on.

Gu-Poison

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Suspiria Reborn: Revisioning A Vintage Horror Classic

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A witches dance? Hecate Triformis? Goddess Kali? Suspiria (2018) will leave you gasping and sighing.

A Spoiler-free review

By: H.B. Gardner

“We were truly impressed by what we saw.”

Horror remakes have been around since the old days. Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera, Freddy Kruger, The Omen and many others have all been resurrected and redone. But in recent years many filmgoers have understandably balked at the idea of horror film remakes due to the obvious increasing lower artistic quality being sacrificed in favor of quick financial gain by studios which habitually crank out bubblegum films for the masses; films with superficial excitement but no lasting flavor and are disposed of and forgotten in a very short time. It has embittered some genre fans to see their treasured cinematic touchstones smeared as it were by the hand of corporate greed, incompetent acting and shoddy CGI.

Well, we viewed director Luca Guadagnino’s passionate 2018 revisioning of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic ‘Suspiria’ on it’s opening weekend here in Japan and will try to write, while still fresh in our minds, our thoughts on the subject of Horror Remakes – without any spoilers! (We plan to do a deeper occult analysis of this new Suspiria in a future article after we’ve had the chance to view it again …and again).

We are not only a longtime fan of Dario Argento’s original 1977 cinematic masterpiece Suspiria, but have spent considerable time meditating upon a key piece of inspirational source material, namely the essay called ‘Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow,’ from ‘Suspiria de Profundis,’ by Thomas De Quincey, where the title of the film and the idea of The Three Mothers were born. These Three Mothers – Mother of Sighs, Mother of Tears and Mother of Darkness are at the dark heart of the Suspiria universe. We being steeped in witchcraft, the occult and the horror genre ourselves ….well, our keen anticipation for the new Suspiria has been considerable. We went in with an open mind and with no expectations but to witness, as in jazz music, an improvisation on a theme.

We were truly impressed by what we saw.

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Mia Goth plays Sara.

Many, if not most of the popular movie-going populace, will not “get” this film, and at least two or three viewings may be needed to fully appreciate it. Suspiria 2018 is an artistic horror film. Those who expect a standard sort of remake, or who prefer their horror to be spoon fed to them with a smattering of jump scares, will likely be disappointed; and those with tastes reared on shallow bubblegum entertainment designed for those with short attention spans will be left impatient and bewildered. Luca Guadagnino’s film represents a deeper artistic turning into the profound regions of psychology, dance (as art), and witchcraft in the sense of The Black Arts than the more  typical horror film fare. The disturbing horror element is lasting in contrast to the superficial jump-scare formula that has long plagued the horror genre and it’s numb audience. Whatever your opinion of this new Suspiria, you must admit it is still a much more sophisticated and worthy sequel than Argento’s own 2007 Mother of Tears.

Learn about The Three Mothers by clicking the link below to another of our occult horror geek articles:

The Three Mothers & SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1

Guadagnino has stated that:

“I hope that the movie comes across as a relentless experience that’s going to go deep into your skin all the way down into your spine,” the director shared with The Hollywood Reporter. “I want the movie to perform as the most disturbing experience you can have. The movie is about being immersed in a world of turmoil and uncompromising darkness.”

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This he has succeeded in doing. The film has indeed gotten under our rather jaded and genre toughened skin. The palpable after-effect of this unsettling film reminds us of a few other Art House films with an unsettling vibe.

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Japanese poster

What we liked about the movie:

The Dance scenes. In 1977’s Suspiria, dance was a rather insignificant aspect of the story, and did little more than provide a setting for the murderous mayhem. In the remake the dance is an esoteric key to the story. Art and The Black Arts are melded into a united force of Witchery heretofore undeveloped in film. Esoteric readings of the film abound with occult and witchcraft symbolism in unfamiliar yet traditional manifestations. This aspect will be explored more thoroughly in a future occult-horror-geek article.

The story, in a way seemingly disjointed or random at first (though not quite as so dreamlike as the original psychedelic Suspiria),  is actually held together throughout and underneath it all by an umbilicus of deeper psychological interpretation and esoteric continuity. A Psychological reading of the film will immediately highlight  the mother-daughter complex throughout, and within a few differing configurations (Suzy and her mother, Suzy and Madame Blanc, Helena Marcos and Madame Blanc etc.). The fuller background given for Suzy couldn’t have been better and adds a whole other  dimension to the story. There is also the wider scope offered of interpersonal relationships especially between women: sisters (Suzy is a twin), the status of older and younger woman, the naturally inspired novice and the experienced teacher; all added into the general theme of female empowerment – though mostly in it’s negative, or darkest, devouring Mother sense.

“The fuller background given for Suzy couldn’t have been better and adds a whole other  dimension to the story.”

The witches of the dance company are intriguing characters and deserve a mini-series in their own right.

The perhaps bewildering inclusion of so much focus on Dr Klemperer the character of the psychologist, pining for his loving wife he lost during the Nazi regime, who gets pulled into the web of witchcraft also highlights this psychological interpretation of Suspiria. He spends his time counseling those he meets who have been consumed by the devouring mother of the Markos dance company. He also spends a great deal of time crossing the border between East and West Germany. He is placed in the neither-neither realm of not being firmly in one world or the other: East and West Germany, past and present. He is already situated at the witches twilight crossroads and is thereby already under the sway of Mater Suspiriorum. This split, or division, is also accented within the Marcos Tanz company where a rivalry of sorts is brewing and the developing tension, suspicions and paranoia of listening through walls echoes that of  East Germany at the time of the setting. It was a time of turmoil, much like today.

With an unsettling atmosphere woven through with anxious sighs, fearful tears,  brooding darkness, and a good dose of body horror, Guadagnino has created a chilling and angst-ridden atmosphere of pain evocative of the late 70’s or very early 80’s. The inclusion of the psychologist’s story as a prominent rather than cameo role brings an added measure of De Quinceyan depth and poignancy undeveloped in the original.

Seeing it in Japan:

We are at a disadvantage as far as viewing new horror movie releases here in Japan. It usually takes several months for most films to make their way here to the Far East with their accompanying Japanese subtitles. Also, the cinematic experience in Japan was a little less than we had hoped for in that the theater was of quite a small size, the screen being no bigger than our own living room wall. We had viewed Hereditary just last November in a very nice, new spacious theater with a big screen in another part of Osaka. However, Toho studios must have got exclusive rights to show Suspiria in Japan as it was only viewable in a Toho theater which required a visit to Umeda in the heart of Osaka. We were able to purchase a Suspiria souvenir movie booklet at the cinema (in Japanese). It was a packed theater that first Saturday of it’s release in Japan. We were unprepared for a substantial amount of the dialogue to be in German or French so deciphering these languages amidst the Japanese subtitles was a bit perplexing. Surprisingly, however, this anglophone handicap did not mar the visual storytelling. We are anticipating multiple future viewings on blu-ray.

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Tilda Swinton works magic in three seperate roles !

The acting was the best we’ve seen in any horror film in a while. The performances were believable even amidst the often unbelievable mayhem going on.

The filmmakers took the original ‘Suspiria’ and spun it in the darkest and deepest directions it could possibly go.

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Dakota Johnson is amazing as Suzy.

A lot of thought and passion was obviously put into this rendering of the story and the art and crafting of it. The filmmakers took the original Suspiria and spun it in the darkest and deepest directions it could possibly go. This is a very different Suspiria from Argento’s. There is no comparing the two, each being a very different creature telling the same myth in a different way. While the original Suspiria remains a classic of the genre it may be said to feel a bit dated or even to contain a bit of camp, especially as viewed from our jaded eyes 40 years after the fact (consider the bat scene!). The new Suspiria never descends into the current trend of torture porn or detours into outright camp. The psychological tension is at first subtle but present right from the start; and the horror and mystery wrap slowly and insidiously about and clings like a viscous, membranous veil. There is suspense, mystery, striking imagery, dark fantasy, dread, horror, gore and the grotesque but it never really seeks to terrorize with mere cheap thrills in the way commonly done nowadays. The story is crafted to leave you unsettled and disturbed afterwards, recalling in this way Cronenberg’s films like Dead Ringers,  or like 1999’s The Reflecting Skin, and the more recent Hereditary. It also echoes the original source material from English opium eater Thomas De Quincey who, as already mentioned, originally conjured The Three Mothers in his work Suspiria De Profundis, in a brief essay titled Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow.

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Tilda Swinton gives compelling performances as three separate characters.

Due to our mistrust of Hollywood – having lost faith with expecting studios to deliver quality horror, along with the tastes of the masses of film goers having seemingly devolved to the level of a 14 year old with a superhero fetish – we sadly suspect that this film may be greatly under appreciated. The original Suspiria has two sequels – both directed by Dario Argento, the first of which Inferno (1980) is a worthy successor. Mother of Tears (2007) despite having three Argento family members and Udo Kier involved in the production remains an unsatisfactory conclusion to the baroque, oneiric drama of the first two. Could we see a trilogy develop from this recent Suspiria remix? one that would focus on each of The Three Mothers? Only time will tell.

Guadagnino’s Suspiria has given us hope. While the pacing may feel a little slow or the story seem to try to encapsulate too much, we think it is an epic dark horror fantasy that brings one to meditate on the condition of a world that seems to so often feed off of pain and misery; whether this be on the level of interpersonal relationships, or of the individual to a group, or the warring sides of a fractured society.

…it is an epic dark horror fantasy that brings one to meditate on the condition of a world that so often seems to feed off of pain and misery.

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Tilda Swinton is a phenomenal actress.