“The Year One”: A Rededication

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By: H. B. G.

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Actress Hazel Court, as the Lady Juliana, betrothes herself to Satan in Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, 1964. This is the first instance in cinema history where an inverted cross is used as a symbol of Satanism.

We have managed to maintain this WordPress-fueled website for one whole year now. We are delighted at this meager accomplishment by one man (who may, or may not, be possessed by many incubi). What started off as an obsession with the film Rosemary’s Baby and an intention to make a single blog post delineating the minor characters in it has expanded into a repository for our occult horror obsession – here: Satanic Cinema Sommelier; Our Favorite Devilish Films and on our Devil May Care Facebook page , as well as our Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary Facebook Page.

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Mia Farrow and Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian) in Rosemary’s Baby.

This past year we have, out of our own zeal, interviewed a surviving cast member of Roman Polanski’s film of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ ( An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ ) and have been keeping a correspondence with the actress Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian) who played Terry Gionofrio – the Castevet’s ill-fated houseguest in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – from her prison cell in a California Institution, but who is now nearing a release date.

We have never before been a collector of autographs, but 2017 was our year for them due to our commitment to our writing on this site.

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Our Holiday card and an autographed picture from actress Victoria Vetri who is nearing her release from prison.

This month, We rededicate ourselves to this project. So, in the spirit of Rosemary’s Baby (the 50th Anniversary of the Satanic classic film thriller is this year) and “The Year One”:

Black candles are lit, the chalice is filled, and the cross-shaped brand smolders in the brazier…

We remain committed to keeping this site as a means of exploring the diabolical, the occult, and religion (and the things it demonizes) in horror films – and in reality – out of our own pleasure, and as a serious interest in the sway that religion and the mysterious, unseen forces of existence inspire and motivate the minds and hearts of individuals, groups and nations worldwide.

We have managed one year with at least one monthly contribution to our site, some are in-depth articles such as our explorations of Suspiria ( SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock , SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess; Part 2 etc..)

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We were able to get Jessica Harper’s Suspiria autograph with a modest charitable donation to the Houston Food Bank last year.

and Rosemary’s Baby ( ‘Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ , An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ , ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 ! ), etc…

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Ernest Harada was very kind to give us an interview as well as autograph a photo for us.

Some other posts are much lighter fare but are hopefully at least entertaining brain candy for the diabolically inclinedAll of Them Witches: A”Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby , Women From Hell: Cinema’s Greatest Ladies from Hades , ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 2017 Fantasy Remake & Dream Cast.

Indirectly related to all this is the work we started in 2017 with the Arcana Tarot Study Group in Osaka, Japan where we currently reside. This group’s mission is to help spread knowledge of using the Tarot via the medium of English; and to improve the skills of English students via the Tarot, here in Japan.

As a father, husband, teacher, writer, reader, mystic and artist, our energies are rapidly absorbed, day-by-day, by our esoteric interests and the gaping jaws of Time; yet we inevitably find ourselves drawn back to exploring the shadowy realms of occult horror, like a sincere Seeker of Truth…, or a dog to it’s vomit.

“But whatever lies behind the door, there’s nothing much to do,

Angel or Devil, I don’t care,

For in front of that door… is you.”

                                                    – Bowie     ‘My Death’

 

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SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess, Part 3

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By H. B. G.

As we seek for the Devil In the Details in the final part of this article on SUSPIRIA, we reach an apotheosis on our meditations upon the  sublime darkness of The Three Mothers

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The Latin phrase sub rosa means “under the rose”, and is used in English to denote secrecy or confidentiality. The rose as a symbol of secrecy and the occult has an ancient history. Jessica Harper, sub rosa, in Suspiria, 1977.

“Who dares misery love

and hug the form of Death?

Dance in Destruction’s dance

To him the Mother comes.”

Kali the Mother (poem) by Swami Vivekananda

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Kali by Raja Ravi Varma. The goddess Kali; naked, black and terrible as the dread realities of life and death.

In Part 1 we saw how Thomas De Quincey, in his exceptional work: ‘Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow’  (a part of his ‘Suspiria de Profundis’ (1845) which gave the name to Dario Argento’s cinematic masterpiece – Suspiria) was able to personify those forces “that incarnate themselves in all individual sufferings of man’s heart;” in the form of The Three Mothers: Mater Suspiriorum – the Mother of Sighs, Mater Lachrymarum – the Mother of Tears, and Mater Tenebrarum – the Mother of Darkness. These powers which afflict every human – sighs, tears, and darkness – were seen by De Quincey as existential conditions which are  a commission from God “to plague the human heart until they have unfolded the capacities of the spirit.”

In Part 2 we noted how this dark, mythic, feminine trinity has an ancient pedigree tied to Witchcraft and goddesses extending back to ancient times. Some of these occult elements have slipped, deliberately or by fortune, into Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, as well as in other horror tales and films.

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Another diabolical feminine trinity and example of unholy motherhood and the shadowy feminine: The Brides of Dracula. Dracula, 1931. In the novel, the brides are offered a wailing infant by their dark master in order to appease their bloodlust. The Shadow side of the Mother as devourer of her own young.

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The Brides of Dracula subject Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) to a Left-Hand Path spiritual  experience in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Bride on the left, like the Gorgon, the Furies and sometimes Hecate, has serpents wreathed in her hair. The offering of a babe by Dracula (literally: The Dragon) to the three brides (in lieu of Jonathan Harker) is included in this 1992 film version.

 

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“The 3 Beggars”Grief, Pain & Despair – in Lars Van Trier’s Antichrist, 2009. There is a discernible resonance with The Three Mothers motif and the darker aspects of Mother Nature in this film.

Besides inspiring SUSPIRIA’s creator Dario Argento with an excellent trope for his Three Mothers trilogy, we also discover in De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis an ancient and profound spiritual truth: “that mighty system of central forces hidden in the deep bosom of human life, which by passion, by strife, by temptation, by the energies of resistance, works for ever upon children – resting not day or night,…” In our development towards adulthood, and with the complicity of goddess Levana, these forces – sighs, tears and darkness, or “The Three Mothers” – work upon each of us at the core of our being, our psyche. That part which forever looks for succor, strength and understanding in the face of adversity experienced in the inevitable crises of human existence.

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Udo Kier and Jessica Harper in Suspiria. 1977.

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Udo Kier in Mother of Tears, 2007.

Seeking succor or understanding in The Three Mothers trilogy often leads to a conversation with the wonderfully talented Udo Kier or Daria Nicolodi.

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Leigh McCloskey and Daria Nicolodi in Inferno. 1980.

Now, when seeking for the Devil In the Details in occult themed horror films, adversity, or the idea of an Adversary, logically leads us to Satan, which is Hebrew: שָּׂטָן‎‎ satan, meaning “enemy” or “adversary.” Any thing which opposes us, or which we fear, or that seduces and leads astray from the Right Hand Path laid out by the traditionally accepted social structures in which one lives, whatever operates as an energy of resistance is exactly what bedevils us. But when we view adversity through the lens of De Quincey’s opium induced revelations in Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow,  the words of Prof. Brené Brown ring true: “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it.”

Will Tears, Sighs and Darkness crush us? Or, will the opposing forces necessitate an “unfolding of the capacities of the spirit”?

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Mater Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) has a taste for tears and fears. Mother of Tears, 2007.

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Our Lady of Sorrows

Will Tears, Sighs and Darkness crush us? Or, will the opposing forces necessitate an “unfolding of the capacities of the spirit”? Embracing Darkness, tasting our own tears – and the tears of the world. Confronting the Shadow within oneself, and in the outer world in which we walk and work, is required for growth – individually and as a society. As spiritual beings are we not defined by our limitations? Moreover, are we not obliged to ever continue expanding beyond our own limits? Are we not forced to evolve from our narrow or outmoded ways of thought? The Adversary provides the resistance that encourages growth and renewal in the courageous heart and mentally stable. This is what we see happen with the protagonists of the three films in Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy.

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Kali as Devouring Mother

To regress or stagnate for too long is to resist the vital urge to progress, blossom and create, and ultimately to cease living. Life, in all it’s dreary and miserable circumstances, challenges us to transcend our boundaries and to take our path (inwards and outwards) towards the next level. We soon learned that Death and Renewal are the name of the game of life which sets out to devour you – body and soul.

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Inferno, 1980

There are three keys to understanding The Three Mothers, as we learn in the introduction of Inferno…

The first Key: The area around the location of the houses of The Three Mothers becomes blighted and are places of death. There is a miasma around their houses like a sickly-sweet smell. The smell of death and decay. As beings existing in conditioned material existence,  (i.e. the body is my house of flesh), death is certain; it’s earthy odor may be disregarded or disguised but never extinguished. These jars of clay we inhabit reek of the earth and are short-lived. This odor is the ever-present knowledge of our own mortality.

The Second Key: The name and the portrait of the Mother residing in each house is to be found in the cellar. That is to say, behind the outward facade of the personas we parade about in the daylight world, the presence of Sighs, Tears and Darkness often remain below the surface – unacknowledged, in the basement of the subconscious – where the monsters dwell. But these demons may be awakened and summoned under strange circumstances or by forbidden or occult methods, like with De Quincey’s opium dreams.

The Third Key: “Is to be found beneath the soles of your shoes”; that is, where you stand at any given moment of your life. For we are ever standing at the crossroads of Hekate, of past,  present and future, left or right or forwards. Wherever or whenever we find ourselves we are always confronted by a choice of direction, where to go and how we spend our limited amount of time as embodied creatures on earth.

Time is short. The ticking of a clock is the steady footsteps of an assassin approaching.

Mater Tenebrarum states at the conclusion of Inferno…

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Veronica Lazar, Inferno, 1980, as Mater Tenebrarum

Mater Tenebrarum: “Your journey has come to an end. Everything around you will become dark, and someone will take your hand. You’ll be pleased, not unhappy. You’ll enjoy moments of incredible brightness. You think it’s magic. No, I’m not a magician. Now we have to hurry because we still have to pass through a number of strange phases in your change. You were looking for me, just like your sister. This is what you wanted. I’m coming to get you!”

Mark: “Tell me who you are!”

Mater Tenebrarum: “The Three Mothers. Haven’t you understood? Mater Tenebrarum! Mater Lachrymarum! Mater Suspiriorum! But men call us by a single name; a name which strikes fear into everyone’s heart. They call us DEATH! DEATH!”

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Through a mirror darkly. Mater Tenebrarum reflects our greatest fear.

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Death and renewal is the specific work of the Dark Goddess. Death of the outworn habits, or ways of thinking or acting, which constrict or no longer serve us along our chosen paths.

As beautifully expressed by the soul journeying in the afterlife in The Egyptian Book of the Dead:

“I am a long lived serpent; I pass the night and am reborn every day. I am a snake which is in the limits of the earth; I pass the night and am reborn, renewed and rejuvenated every day.” 

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“Mother of the Gods,” Coatlicue, “She of the Serpent Skirt,” a 2.7 metre (8.9 ft) tall statue discovered in Mexico City in 1790. Europeans regarded the statue as a horrible, deformed monster. Mexican Indians on the other hand began to worship it, visiting it with candles and adorning it with flowers. To prevent this, the statue was buried in the patio of the University of Mexico where it could not be seen. Note the garland of severed hands, hearts and skull and compare with the Indian goddess Kali who is similarly adorned. Her head is severed and two serpent heads are emerging and uniting, merging the dual streams of existence. Compare to Kundalini-Shakti, Chinnamasta, et al.

“Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward.”

– Joseph Campbell

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Three keys are given in Argento’s Inferno, 1980

Reject, Explode, Explore, Unlearn

We mentioned in Part 2 that the snake is a symbol of the Gnostic witch goddess Hecate, whose affinity with the Three Mothers we elucidated. As a symbol, the serpent (or magnified as the dragon) plays an integral part in occultism and is also often associated with other female deities and demonesses acquainted with the chthonic – or cosmic – powers of transformative darkness from various Pagan cultures: Tiamat, Lilith, Lamia, Ceto, Medusa, Kali, Coatlicue, et al.

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Albert-Joseph Penot, Bat woman, 1890. Our image of Lilith.

These goddesses are usually depicted with fierce or horrific embodiments and attributes – often embellished by serpent imagery. The lesson expressed here through all times and cultures is that of transformation. Death and renewal come when we confront our fears and desires and learn to dance with the Shadow.

 

 

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Athena, goddess of wisdom, bearing the Gorgon head on her breastplate (heart chakra) and the owl – a creature with the ability to see in darkness – in her left hand, oversees the rebirth of the hero Jason from the mouth of the devouring serpent- dragon.

A serpent sheds it’s skin when it has become worn out.

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From cloudy husk to renewed beauty.

Just as the moon sheds it’s shadow every month…

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“…we still have to pass through a number of strange phases in your change.” From darkness into light and back around again.

Or a duckling chick outgrows it’s egg.

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It is neccesary to destroy the old form in order to release the new. Ducks and geese take part in the three elemental realms of land, water and air.

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

~ Pablo Picasso

The Dark Goddess resides at the crossroads of transformation.

Offer your sighs, tears and darkness at her altar and be transformed.

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Bengali cult image of Kali

Sex & Death

These are some esoteric icons of Our Ladies of Darkness

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Chinnamasta is a Tantric goddess par excellence.  artist: Daniel Corcuera Nekronikon Temple

When it comes to Dark Goddesses and horror, Indian culture has exhibited some of the most profound examples of the terrible feminine divine. Kali is a goddess widely worshipped. Her name means “The Force of Time,” and “The Black One;” for Time births, sustains, transforms and devours all. This Dark Goddess has various forms and avatars. One which bears relevancy here is a triple formed icon: Chinnamasta, the Beheaded Goddess, who – like Hecate – is 3 goddesses in 1.

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Chinnamasta: A triple goddess, empowered by the primal, foundational sexual energy which is the cause and gateway of existence, decapitates herself in order to nourish her two companions (the dual forces of existence personified within the field of time) with her own blood, and herself as well. The incessant recycling flow of life. Here the goddesses carry shears like Atropos of The Fates.

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The Mother of Darkness demands blood in Inferno, 1980.

In a profound act of self sacrifice we see Chinnamasta decapitate herself. Three streams of blood spout from her neck to nourish her two handmaidens, Varnini and Dakini. The third stream reaches the goddess’s own mouth to be consumed by her own severed head. She stands upon Kama, the god of eros, embraced by his female companion, Rati, who takes the female superior position. This is a mystical truth as a metaphorical image of the sublime horror of life feeding upon death, with sex (and re-birth) and death as the doorways between the worlds.

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Her mantra is: “I bow to Chinnamasta; She who is the Sacrifice, the Sacrificer, and the Receiver of the Sacrifice. May She liberate all beings.” Chinnamasta, Calcutta Art Studio lithograph, c. 1885

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“She” takes the assertive posture in the film Antichrist.

Sex, death, transformation… these are the keys of the Dark Goddess, The Dark Mother. While it may seem that we have strayed far from Suspiria, we have managed, by reading the occult symbols and looking at myths, to obtain some spiritual insight from an occult horror film series. If it is not obvious at first, even to the film makers, it is for the simple reason that “the occult” literally means what is “hidden” or secret, even when it is a plain and open secret. Something which the rational mind often pushes into shadowy corners. Sex and death, sorrows and tears, sighs and darkness are an inevitable part of conditioned (physical) human existence, but their wisdom is “sub rosa.”

We are all limited by time, which restricts us to these material conditions. We can fear and be disturbed by these forces, but we can also permit them to transform us and teach us profound truths.

Sex and death, sorrows and tears, sighs and darkness are an inevitable part of conditioned human existence.

Were these symbols which we’ve examined in this 3 part article used consciously by the filmmakers in bringing these vivid nightmares to the silver screen? Perhaps a few. More likely it is the work of the disturbed, or exalted, human imagination that summons these iconic accoutrements and archetypes forth from the shadows of the subconscious. What we do know is that both Thomas De Quincey’s ‘Suspiria de Profundis,’ and Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, whether consciously or unconsciously, have tapped into something primal and eternal, with the ability to evoke humankind’s primal fears at their deepest level… sub rosa.

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The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy, often referred as The Triple Hecate or simply Hecate, is a 1795 work of art by the English artist and poet William Blake

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Indian Yogini with ever-blossoming lotus for head.          stone sculpture

Sub Rosa

If you enjoyed this 3-part article on Suspiria and the Dark Goddess, please feel free to like, share, comment and view our other projects here at Devil In the Details. We hope to have more things of interest in the near future.

Finally, we leave you with these images of the  Headless Yogini, or Flowering or Blossoming Yogini. The ever-blossoming and expansion of cosmic consciousness firmly rooted in the physical plane.

May you break open and blossom to unfold the capacities of your spirit.

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This is a Yogini inspired by Lajja Gauri iconography that was made in Orissa and that is now at the Yogini Temple of Purnima  in Villa de Leyva, Colombia. More info is available at……………. Via Facebook @yoginisoracle

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess; Part 2

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By H.B.G.

In Part 2, We continue to think way too much about Suspiria, witchcraft and The Three Mothers

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Jessica Harper, Alida Valli and Joan Bennett in SUSPIRIA, 1977

In Part 1 of this article we mentioned how the sensitive and melancholy Romantic Era essayist Thomas De Quincey channeled the concept of The Three Mothers (used later by Dario Argento in his Three Mothers Trilogy) through his own opium expanded brain in his work Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow, where he named them as Mater Lachrymarum, Mater Suspiriorum and Mater Tenebrarum. We also introduced The Three Mothers and hinted at their associations with a deeper layer of mythic origins. Patience please as we prepare to dive deep into the Inferno and take a deeper look at The Devil in the Details…

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Dario Argento plagued by Demons? Or, ‘Orestes Pursued by the 3 Furies,’ by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. The Furies/Erinyes share many attributes with Hekate (triplicity, the underworld, torches and serpents). Much of The Three Mothers may be seen in their relentless pursuit to torment their victims.

The Trine

The Three Mothers in Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), and Mother of Tears (2007) are a dark feminine trinity akin to female triads known throughout world mythology, literature and religion who are directly referenced in Suspiria’s sequels: The Fates (the Moirai, The Parcae), The Muses, The Graces, The Graeae, The Morrígan, The Sirens, The Norns, The Erinyes/Furies, The Harpies  and The Gorgons. Also there are The Three Witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, 3 Fairy Godmothers in folktales,  The Three Marys at the Empty Tomb  in Christian tradition, as well as the Tridevi in Hinduism.

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The Three Mothers, each sister bares her right breast. East France, late Roman period.

Interestingly, in direct relation to Suspiria and the Frieburg region of Germany, there was a female trinity worshipped in Germanic  and Celtic regions of pre-Christian Roman Europe commonly referred to as  The Matres or Matronae.  (The Mothers or The Matrons). Data on the widespread cult of The Three Mothers, or Matres, is limited as their cult was viciously suppressed by the incursion of Christianity; but they often appear together in surviving votive shrines, occasionally each one bearing her right breast as in the shrine pictured above. But that’s a small detail which hardly relates to Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, ….right?

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The Mother of Tears, aka La Terze Madre (The Third Mother in Argento’s native Italian). Right breast bared.

Uncanny coincidence, innit?

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From the very start of SUSPIRIA we are situated in the fairy tale world of  The Black Forest. Note the poster at left as Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) steps from the airport terminal.

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Shrine to The Three Mothers,                     2nd century, Germany

 

The Black Forest near Freiburg Germany seems an appropriate location for the story in Suspiria. It is often associated with the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and is not far from known sanctuary sites to the Three Matres or Matronae. 

“Matronae altars include an abundance of floral and faunal symbols, such as trees, branches and flowers, birds perched in branches, cornucopias, goats, snakes wound around tree trunks, and scenes of sacrifice. All these suggest strong fertility and chthonic connections.”

– ‘The Cult of The Matronae In the Roman Rhineland’ by Alex G. Garman

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In case you missed it, we are reminded we are in The Black Forest as Suzy leaves the airport and enters the dark stormy night which begins her harrowing journey. Note poster at right, placing us firmly in the fairy tale realm of the supernatural.

“The altars show the Matronae holding fruit, bread, money, and in one case spinning material.” The abundance and wealth symbolism is obvious. The spinning material perhaps links them directly to the power of The Three Fates: Clotho spun the “thread” of human fate, Lachesis dispensed it, and Atropos cut the thread, thus determining the moment of death for each individual. 

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“If the Fates allow…” The Three Fates by Paul Thumann. In center is Clotho (as Maiden) spinning the thread of life, at right is Lachesis (as Mother) who dispenses it, at left is grim Atropos (as Crone) with her shears ready to snip the thread of life.

Triplicity is a common motif in myth and magic…

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The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men. (Artist uncertain. Please enlighten us.)

De Quincey traversed oceans of deepest darkness in his explication of Levana and our Ladies of Sorrow.

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The funereal Three Marys appear at the empty sepulcher in Christian tradition. Group of sculptures by the sculptor Juan Jose Quiros, Elche, Province of Alicante, Spain. Compare with the image below.

Interesting to note how the birth of Christ was attended by 3 Wise Men, whereas his death/resurrection (re-birth?) was attended by 3 women, or funereal midwives. We are reminded of the European fairy tales, like Sleeping Beauty, (in which a spinning wheel figures) and legends  like King Arthur, where births and deaths are attended by 3 fairy godmothers or three women of power.

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Detail from Altar to the Matronae Aufaniae dedicated by Q. Vettius Severus, 164 CE. Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany.

An unconscious memory seems to have taken hold upon the European mind from the earliest days of human spiritual culture which is echoed throughout art and literature.

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Peter von Cornelius – The Three Marys at the Tomb. Bearing jars of unguents for mortuary duties. Women in the ancient world often oversaw the preparation of the corpse as well as tending to sickness and childbirth, linking them with the powers of The Fates.

The ‘INFERNO’ of HECATE

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“Hekate” by Maximilian Pirner (1901).  A singular work depicting the three-formed goddess soaring and twisting round through the night sky of the waning moon. In her multiple hands are key, torch, dagger, and what may be serpents or cords for binding.

One goddess we can easily associate (though not completely identify) with Suspiria‘s terrifying Three Mothers is Hecate, (or Hekate), of the Greeks and Romans, famous for her associations with witchcraft, the moon, magic, crossroads, doorways and thresholds,  necromancy, childbirth, ghosts and unclean lunar rites of sacrifice and expiation, having magical, protective or apotropaic qualities. In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd–3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over the three worlds of earth, sea and sky – or heaven, earth and underworld – as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was also lauded as Kourotrophos (nurse of children), Chthonia (of the earth/underworld), and as Phosphoros,  and Lampadephoros (bringing or bearing light). Black animals, dogs in particular, were her preferred sacrificial animal.

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Midnight sacrifice at the crossroads. Suspiria, 1977

Often referred to as Queen of the Witches or Queen of Hell (the Underworld), Hecate is an ancient goddess portrayed in classical literature as haunting crossroads and cemeteries, where she presided over uncanny midnight rites, with her dreadful nocturnal approach heralded by howling dogs. She was attended by a train of torch bearing nymphs from the underworld (the Lampades) who were said to cause madness, along with the ghosts of those unquiet dead who met their ends by suicide, murder or other sudden tragedy, or those who died without receiving the proper funeral rites.

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Ghoulish, phosphorescent, unquiet dead – a victim of black magic (note the pins stuck in the eyes and the “pinning” of the wrists (in sacrilegious imitation of Christ) of Sarah (Stefania Cassini) the victim – definitely a member of Hecate’s tribe. Suspiria, 1977.

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“Her head, turreted like that of Cybèle,” as De Quincey describes Mater Tenebrarum.                 An ancient statue of torch-bearing Hecate who also often appears with turreted head – linking her as The World Tree. This one adorned with lunar crescent. 3rd century A.D. on display in the Antalya Museum, Turkey.

Hekate’s common significant identifying attributes, other than her triplicity, are torches, keys, daggers, serpents, and cords/rope or scourges/whips. As “Holder of the Keys,” (Kleidotrophos) we see a definite connection to the Three Mothers as imagined by De Quincey as he describes Mater Lachrymarum and Mater Suspiriorum as keybearers (see Part 1 of this article). Her turreted crown, “like that of the goddess Cybele,” as De Quincey describes Mater Tenebrarum, symbolizes her jurisdiction – (Mother goddess as hypostasis of the World Tree) – over the heavens, earth and underworld, thus giving her triple power over the crossroads of the three worlds. She is also strongly identified or equated with the lunar goddess Artemis / Diana, as Diana Lucifera, She Who Brings Light. She is a popular goddess amongst modern Witches, Wiccans and Pagans.

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The goddess Hecate wielding daggers, scourges and torches and flanked by serpents.               From an engraved Roman gem

In Inferno (1980) the second film in Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, the film opens with lingering shots of some common symbols of Hecate, the Greek and Roman goddess of witchcraft.

We see a dagger, 3 keys attached to an ornamental coral snake (venomous – “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.”), as well as a book of arcane knowledge.

The character Rose Elliot (acted by Irene Miracle – what a magical name!) in Inferno has a natural inclination towards the occult as her taste in literature and jewelry indicate (notice her Eye of Wisdom necklace). Just before Rose dives into the submerged underground ballroom, she uses a lighter to illuminate her way through the darkened cellar; the torch is a common attribute wielded by night wandering Hecate.

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Rose Eliot (Irene Miracle) descends into the unconscious fear of the dark… only to be submerged in terror in Dario Argento’s Inferno.

This is the spirit venturing into the darkness of the Underworld. Indeed, it is her serpent ornamented keychain which drops into the aqueous subterranean realm of Mater Tenebrarum, the deep subconscious world of nightmares, thereby “unlocking” the way towards her fateful encounter with the supernatural. Her passage (initiation) into the Mysteries is a submersion into the womb-realm of the Dark Mother (Mater Tenebrarum) herself!

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She attains the keys to occult wisdom by diving deep into the darkness. Serpent keychain – Serpent = Wisdom. The keys are to her own apartment within the House of Mater Tenebrarum, a true Temple of Darkness.

But perhaps her fate was already sealed from the moment she used the blade (symbol of Hecate) to unseal the first pages of the book The Three Mothers by Varelli; her curiosity unlocking forbidden secrets better left unknown. A type of premature C-Section made by a fledgling Handmaid of Darkness to birth herself – her own self-initiation – to the sacrificial mysteries of a sudden, terrifying death, thereby joining her spirit to the hordes of Hecate.

 

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Hecate Triformis with scourge, key, cords, and torch, articles such as any professional midwife or witch may carry.

As a liminal goddess of crossroads and threshold guardian between the realm of the living and the dead, the mysterious accouterments of Hekate could serve purposes both mystical and practical. Symbolic tools of powers required, perhaps, for lighting the way along midnight excursions into restricted chambers of difficult childbirth, illness in extremis, death, or other health crises, such as wise women, herbalists or poisoners, midwives, abortionists or morticians (any of which may be labeled “witches”) may have required.

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Hecate Triformis (another view of the statue above?) bearing torches, rope and dagger.

In the ancient world, the maternal and infant mortality rate, and other complications surrounding childbirth, was astronomical compared with our relatively safe and routine procedures today. Childhood death, amongst other pitiable or sorrowful themes, is a discernible motif in De Quincey’s somber writings.

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Ad for the final installment of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy.

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“The Moon – Goddess of Mystery” ~ by Emily Balivet

Join us next month for the third and final part of this article where we will complete our analysis of The Three Mothers in Argento’s Trilogy.

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The Three Graces are the light side of the Trine. Goddesses associated with Charm, Beauty and Creativity; or Faith, Hope and Charity.

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1

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By: H.B.G.

thremothers‘Suspiria’ (1977) is a singular horror movie that has become a classic of modern cinema. It is impossible to overstate the impact this remarkable film – and the unique stylings it’s director Dario Argento – has had upon artists and writers since it’s release 40 years ago. The mysterious name of the film itself serves as a kind of  wicked enchantment guaranteed to conjure sighs of awe and twinkles in the eyes of horror film buffs. In this special three part article we will stare long and deep into the dark, searching for The Devil in the Details in the art and mythos of Suspiria and attempt to reveal the weird links between horror film fantasy and genuine occult doctrine. In Part 1 we will introduce The Three Mothers and their origins for those yet unfamiliar, and deepen our understanding of them. Part 2 will connect these femmes fatale to the Triple Goddess of Witchcraft and her necromantic symbols and connections in Suspiria and it’s sequels Inferno and Mother of Tears. Part 3 will round it all out with The Three Mother’s taste for tears, misery and sacrifice.

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A symbolically bloody passage leads us over the threshold, towards the inner mysteries of       The Three Mothers.

The vitality of the cult art-house status which this extremely original film has achieved is emphasized by the fact that a remake, directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino and featuring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, is due to be released in the not-so-distant future. Hollywood has been grinding out plenty of horror remakes in recent decades and not all have met with much success. Whether or not the Suspiria remix does any justice to  the original film or source material, we can see the Suspiria trilogy (with Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007)) being elevated to the mythic dimensions of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy in our collective movie-going unconscious.

But Suspiria is unique in the horror canon; instead of treading the well-beaten path of vampires, mad scientists or undead pharaohs, the storytelling of Suspiria  constellates about (we hesitate to say ‘narrative focuses on’ – because of it’s surrealistic, dream-like nature): witchcraft and black magic, brutal and prolonged ritual murders perpetrated by dark, unseen forces, and the darker side of the feminine principles of motherhood and sisterhood. On film, this heady brew of elements conjures a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of ingénues in mysterious buildings overseen by shadowy femme fatales, cryptic warnings whispered about witches, a forbidden book by an alchemist, animals that go berserk and unhinged violence complimented by the inevitably mounting supernatural mayhem.

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“Names which begin with the letter S… are the names of snakes!” Suspiria!

Suspiria‘s origins arise like an intoxicating vapor from the Chinese puzzle-box-like literary works of Romantic Era, British essayist Thomas De Quincey. His best known work: Confessions of an English Opium Eater, inaugurated the tradition of addiction literature in the West when it first appeared in 1822. Later he composed Suspiria de Profundis translated as “Sighs from the Depths,” which was first published in fragmentary form in 1845, from which the title for the film Suspiria derives. The work is a collection of short essays in psychological fantasy — what De Quincey himself called “impassioned prose,” (now termed prose poetry). The essays of the Suspiria “are among the finest examples of De Quincey’s or anyone else’s English style.”

“Some critics consider De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis the supreme prose fantasy of English literature.”

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“Secret flowers?”                                                                                  Shouldn’t they be opium poppies?

De Quincey conceived of the collection as a sequel to his masterwork, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Like that work, the pieces in Suspiria de Profundis are rooted in the visionary experiences of the author’s opium addiction. The Suspiria of De Quincey, when taken all together, are a touchingly poignant and beautifully melancholic  excursion into the experiential depths of the sorrows and afflictions of the human heart. He was an extremely sensitive man who suffered deeply from the trials of life, including the premature childhood death of a beloved older sister and his own son, as may be read in his work. A listing of the titles of the pieces in De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis will give some indication as to it’s themes (feel free to skip down to The Three Mothers):

  • Dreaming — the introduction to the whole.
  • The Palimpsest of the Human Brain — a meditation upon the deeper layers of human consciousness and memory.
  • Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow — beginning with a discussion of Levana, the ancient Roman goddess of childbirth, De Quincey imagines three companions for her: Mater Lachrymarum, Our Lady of Tears; Mater Suspiriorum, Our Lady of Sighs; and Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness.
  • The Apparition of the Brocken — on an optical illusion associated with a German mountaintop where dark pagan rites were once practiced.
  • Savannah-la-Mar — a threnody on a sunken city, inspired by the 1692 earthquake that sank Port Royal in Jamaica; beginning, “God smote Savannah-la-Mar….”
  • Vision of Life — “The horror of life mixed…with the heavenly sweetness of life….”
  • Memorial Suspiria — looking forwards and backwards on life’s miseries; foreshadowing and anticipation.
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Hekate Triformis, Three-formed Hecate, (with dog and mare heads), offers us an opium seed pod to help illuminate our darkness.

When the collection was reprinted in the collected works in the 1850s, another short essay was added: The Daughter of Lebanon, a parable of grief and transcendence.

The four pieces that first appeared posthumously in 1891 are:

  • Solitude of Childhood — “Fever and delirium,” “sick desire,” and the Erl-King’s daughter.
  • The Dark Interpreter — he was a looming shadow in the author’s opium reveries. (Reminds us of Dexter Morgan’s “Dark Passenger” from the cable drama series Dexter).
  • The Princess that lost a Single Seed of a Pomegranate — echoes upon echoes from an Arabian Nights tale.
  • Who is this Woman that beckoneth and warneth me from the Place where she is, and in whose Eyes is Woeful remembrance? I guess who she is — “memorials of a love that has departed, has been — the record of a sorrow that is….”
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The Ladies of the Academy                                                                                                               Suspiria, 1977

The Three Mothers

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Of all of the pieces in the Suspiria, Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow is arguably the most widely anthologized, the best known, and the most admired. “The whole of this vision is clothed in a prose so stately, intense, and musical that it has been regarded by some.. “as the supreme achievement of De Quincey’s genius, the most original thing he ever wrote.” Before the word “archetype” even existed, De Quincey successfully expressed “the mighty abstractions that incarnate themselves in all individual sufferings of man’s heart; …to have these abstractions presented as impersonations, that is, as clothed with human attributes of life, and with functions pointing to flesh.”

It is also at the the black heart of Dario Argento’s cinematic horror masterpiece, as it is here that we discover the origins of The Three Mothers as fateful companions to the Roman Goddess Levana, thought to oversee childbirth as well as the raising and tutelage of children. By the education of Levana is meant – “not the poor machinery that moves by spelling books and grammars, but that mighty system of central forces hidden in the deep bosom of human life, which by passion, by strife, by temptation, by the energies of resistance, works for ever upon children – resting not day or night,…” Each of these dark goddesses is assigned a specific office; under their dreadful auspices they oversee human misery and sorrow through the powers of sighs, tears and darkness. It will become apparent that Argento took artistic liberties with certain characteristics De Quincey had assigned to each of The Three Mothers as they appear in the films.

The Three Mothers are named and described by De Quincey as:

Mater Lachrymarum – Our Lady of Tears: Because she is the first-born of her house, and has the widest empire, she is Honored with the title Madonna. “She it is that night and day raves and moans, calling for vanished faces.” And, “She it was that stood in Bethlehem on the night when Herod’s sword swept its nurseries of Innocents, and the little feet were stiffened forever…” And, “Her eyes are sweet and subtle, wild and sleepy by turns; oftentimes rising to the clouds; oftentimes challenging the heavens. She wears a diadem round her head.” And, …“she could go abroad upon the winds, when she heard the sobbing of litanies or the thundering of (funereal) organs…”.

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Ania Pieroni appears as Mater Lachrymarum in Inferno, 1980.                                   The oldest sister according to De Quincey.

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Our Lady of Sorrows

“She moves with uncertain steps, fast or slow, but still with tragic grace.” Oftentimes she is stormy and frantic; raging against highest heaven and demanding back her darlings. She carries keys “which open every cottage and every palace.” “By the power of her keys it is that Our Lady of Tears glides a ghostly intruder into the chambers of sleepless men, sleepless women, sleepless children” around the world.

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Moran Atias as Mater Lachrymarum.                                                                      The Mother of Tears, 2007.

Mater Suspiriorum – Our Lady of Sighs: “She never scales the clouds, nor walks upon the winds.” With drooping head on which sits a dilapidated turban, this humble Lady of the Hopeless “never clamors, never defies.” “And her eyes, if they were ever seen, would be neither sweet nor subtle; …they would be filled with perishing dreams, and with wrecks of forgotten delirium. But she  raises not her eyes.” her head droops forever… fastened on the dust. “She weeps not. She groans not. But she sighs inaudibly at intervals.” And, “Hers is the meekness that belongs to the hopeless. Murmur she may, but it is in her sleep.  Whisper she may, but it is to herself in the twilight. Mutter she does at times, but it is in solitary places that are desolate as she is desolate, in ruined cities, and when the sun has gone down to his rest. This sister is the visitor of the Pariah…”

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With drooping head, Veronica Lazar as Mater Tenebrarum in Inferno, 1980; appears rather Mater Suspiriorum-ish.

“She also carries a key; but she needs it little. For her kingdom is chiefly amongst the tents of Shem, and the houseless vagrant of every clime.” She sits amongst the pariahs: with the baffled penitent criminal whose name and condition has been forgotten as he languishes in prison, with every slave bound to a caste system, with the disgraced, the betrayed and all outcasts of society, and with the lonely hearts whose fire of younger years has burned away until it is now a solitary candle that gutters on an unseen ledge.

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Veronica Lazar as Mater Tenebrarum in Inferno, 1980.

and Mater Tenebrarum – Our Lady of Darkness: Is the youngest, cruelest and most frightening of the three. We are cautioned to whisper whilst we talk of her! “Her kingdom is not large, or else no flesh should live; but within that kingdom all power is hers. “Her head, turreted like that of Cybèle, rises almost beyond the reach of sight. She droops not; and her eyes rising so high might be hidden by distance. But, being what they are, they cannot be hidden; through the treble veil of crape which she wears, the fierce light of a blazing misery, that rests not for matins or for vespers, for noon of day or noon of night, for ebbing or for flowing tide, may be read from the very ground. She is the defier of God. She also is the mother of lunacies, and the suggestress of suicides. Deep lie the roots of her power; but narrow is the nation that she rules. For she can approach only those in whom a profound nature has been upheaved by central convulsions; in whom the heart trembles and the brain rocks under conspiracies of tempest from without and tempest from within.” And, “…this youngest sister moves with incalculable motions, bounding, and with tiger’s leaps. She carries no key; for… she storms all doors at which she is permitted to enter at all.”

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Helena Markos aka Mater Suspiriorum is destroyed by Suzy (Jessica Harper) in 1977’s Suspiria.

 Occult Horror Geek Purport:

The idea in De Quincey’s dream vision being that the sorrows and afflictions which so work their adversities and “fearful truths” upon his own heart and mind – but by extension we may make this a universal truth as affecting the hearts and minds of us all as children, forming and molding us into mature adults until our hearts are fully aquatinted with the miseries of human existence – these conditions (sighs, tears, and darkness) are a commission from God to these archetypal, female spirits or deities to plague the human heart until they have unfolded the capacities of the spirit.

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This is an intriguing concept though not entirely new or unique. The idea of suffering as a motivator leading towards atonement or some kind of spiritual fulfillment is an ancient one and widely recognized, in varying degrees, amongst all religions. Here we may note Buddhism in general, and in particular the Catholic Cult of Mary as the Mother of Sorrows, some devotional goddess cults in India (Kali and similar goddesses), as well as Santa Muerte and the Aztec goddesses Coatlicue and Tlazolteotl, to name just a few.

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Santa Muerte

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Our Lady of Sorrows clutches the crown of thorns to her pierced sacred heart.

De Quincey’s dream vision being that the sorrows and afflictions which so work their adversities and “fearful truths” upon the heart and mind… are a commission from God to these female spirits, or deities, to plague the human heart until they have unfolded the capacities of the spirit.

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A brutal piercing of the heart in Suspiria.

Early on in Suspiria, the film presents a graphic display of a murder – a kind of atrocious plaguing of the human heart, a raging cenobitic (in the Hellraiser sense) opening up, or unfolding of, the capacities for suffering of the human spirit. Perhaps not exactly what De Quincey had in mind, but the visceral poetry does not escape us. In that first horrific murder scene, the murderer uses a dagger and cord which have significance as will be seen when we explore Hecate – the triple-formed Goddess of Witches – and her symbols in Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy… in Part 2.

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Hecate Triformis

Please stay tuned for the rest of this 3 part article. Parts 2 & 3 will be released in September & October.

 

SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

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By: H.B.G.

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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 entirely 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. This echoes the Peacock as 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’usan 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 infernal powers. 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… 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. But we digress…

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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:

Thelema 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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A Chronological “wine list” through the past century of Diabolical Horror films that are  notable for Satanic, Black Magic, Witchcraft, Pagan or Occult content… paired with drinks.

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Two Satyrs, Peter Paul Rubens, c.1618

Some of these “sinematic” shows have aged well and are to be savored while others have a distinct bite. A few have undeniably gone to vinegar but may still make an interesting salad dressing.

This essay-list is by no means exhaustive and will be tweaked and added to as time allows. The first few decades are inevitably sparse, but scroll through the decades of this diabolical rosary of occult horror cinema to discover some rare gems. We’ve also included some interesting bits of occult cinema trivia here and there.

First 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.

Satanic Sommelier: Each of these three films have aged extremely well, though it must be remembered that they are children of their times. They are smooth but robust in taste, and each has it’s 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. 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  (1968)

Satanic Sommelier:  A bottle of Merlot  with savory notes and a strong finish. Or  try making a vodka blush in tribute to the Castevets! (Just watch the carpet!).

  • 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. RosemarysBaby-Mia-Farrow-Paramount

Or, you can always celebrate the good tidings with champagne.  Although this may first sound like a bit of an overstatement, this film – and the novel by Ira Levin 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. The credit belongs to the near page-by-page and word-for-word translation of Ira Levin’s novel into film by director Roman Polanski. Hands must have surely trembled as they turned the final pages of this thriller when it was first released in 1967. This is due to the flawless matching of the most sacred (motherhood) with the most profane (absolute evil).

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The film, which was released a year after the novel’s release, closely adheres to the novel in almost every way, but has been brought to vivid and believable life through Roman Polanski’s voyeuristic lens and 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. The premise has since become it’s own supernatural horror sub genre.

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Ruth Gordon earned an Oscar for her portrayal of Minnie Castevet in Polanski’s masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby.

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An iconic image from The Exorcist

The Exorcist  (1973)

Satanic Sommelier: An expensive Scotch, neat, no ice or water necessary; just like Father Damien gets after his first meeting with Regan MacNeil.  What can we say here that hasn’t already been said? It is a tense, dark, psychological and spiritual horror drama. The scenes of demonic possession and exorcism are deservedly famous, but it’s truly the spiritual crisis of the character Father/Dr. Damien Karras (Jason Miller) which stands at the center of this gripping story.

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Jason Miller exuding gravitas by the bucket-full in The Exorcist.

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? Watch The Exorcist III to find out! (Feel free to skip The Exorcist “Number 2”).

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The Exorcist has traumatized generations and caused people to reaffirm their religious beliefs.

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The Exorcist works your nerves on many levels: sound, subliminal imagery, psychological tension…

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

The Omen  (1976)

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.  The Omen caused a good many people to start attending church or paying closer attention to the Book of Revelations – 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 – after viewing this film! Indeed, it is due to this film that “666” as a mark of Evil entered the collective mass consciousness! 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.

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The Omen is must-see vintage Satanic cinema.

Other notable cinematic daemons through the decades are:

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The Twenties held a lot of promise. Economic prosperity and the developing film industry  of Hollywood would soon lead to legendary debauchery and decadence.

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Häxan (1922)

images-13Satanic 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.

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Black Mass at a Witches Sabbath in the vintage Häxan.

 

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Häxan

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The inverted pentagram evokes the triumph of base materialism over the spirit. Metropolis.

Metropolis   (1927)

Satanic Sommelier: A Dirty Martini or a nicely chilled Chardonnay. Considered a film classic by pretty much any cinema enthusiast, it’s inclusion here on a list of diabolical films may at first glance appear mistaken. However, as industrialization and science and capitalism appeared to overtake all things holy, including the sacredness of the human spirit, Metropolis depicts the “satanizing” of society and culture – and even the human body – as greed and corruption take the lead in human society. Much analysis has been done of this film but one need only to watch it and note the Biblical cues. Compare the replacement of the sacred with the profane, organic Maria with robot Maria, and the triumph of Babylon (aka, Babalon, viz. Crowley) (and the later real life Feminist and sexual liberation movements) to understand the horror earlier Christian generations had of the Apocalyptic prophecies.

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Ave Maria. Metropolis.

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Feeding of the hungry god. Metropolis.

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Maria as the Whore of Babylon. Metropolis

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How great grandma got her kicks.

Messe Noir,  aka,  “Black Mass”   (1928)

Satanic Sommelier: Depends on the mood, doesn’t it? Absinthe, or Champagne. Otherwise a nice Bordeaux. Although not a horror film, Messe Noir  or Black Mass is a vintage erotic film, or antique porn if you like, from Paris, France which deserves more recognition. It runs only about 6 minutes but it depicts a female neophyte being led by nude, masked cultists to a Satanic altar for initiation into the cult by none other than Lucifer and Astarte serving as Satanic priest and priestess. The  congregation appears to be exclusively female besides the Satanic priest. There is a vampiric blood offering, ceremonial bondage, flagellation, and sex acts between the congregants in an orgy apparently in homage to Satan.

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The Devil’s servants are bound to their Master with the chains of love… or lust.

Little is known about this anonymous relic. Whether this film depicts an actual Black Mass (as a few have claimed) is highly debatable. It is far more likely that somebody had the brilliant idea of filming a staged Live Sex Act with diabolical theatrical costume and paraphernalia added in to spike the excitement factor – such as may have been available to patrons of some of Paris’s decadent underground cabarets back in the day. However, there is evidence that somebody at least did their homework before filming and we might assume that at least some of the congregants may have very well been sincere in their faith. France has a history as a hotbed of heresy and diabolism. Just read Là-bas (1891) by  Joris-Karl Huysmans for a taste of decadent Parisian satanism.

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Servants of the Silver Star and the Serpent. Messe Noir, 1928

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Satan receives many offerings in Messe Noir

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df0765cb7b421ece21b2237179e1af09The Great Depression swept the USA and much of the world was adversely affected. Fortunately some of this darkness birthed classic horrors of the cinema.

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The great Boris Karloff is steeped in Darkness in The Black Cat.

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The Black cat   (1934)

Satanic Sommelier: Brandy, on a dark, cold, stormy night. A young couple traveling on their honeymoon in Hungary meet Vitus Werdegast, a Hungarian psychiatrist played by Bela Lugosi who just so happens to be on his way to meet an old friend, the sinister Hjalmar Poelzig played by Boris Karloff. Weredegast and Poelzig go way back and their relationship has not exactly been a smooth one.

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Karloff x Lugosi = Classic Creepiness!

Werdegast (Lugosi) has spent the last 15 years in an infamous prison camp in Siberia. Poelzig (Karloff) is an architect with many dark secrets, and both will face off in a final confrontation before the bitter end. A collection of dead women in glass coffins, a Satanic cult, a book called The Rites of Lucifer, madness, stunning Bauhaus architecture in glorious black and white… there is much to be savored here. Although the story really has nothing to do with the tale by Edgar Allen Poe don’t let that keep you from seeing this Horror Classic.

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Stylish Bauhaus scenery in The Black Cat

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Hooray for Pre-code Hollywood!

 

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Classic Karloff

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The Wizard of Oz   (1939)

Satanic Sommelier: Amaretto and Coke, or Make a Grasshopper. Not a horror movie you say? Generations of children have been traumatized by this film which depicts a battle between two powerful witches over a pair of magic slippers! And… flying monkeys!!!

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The Scarecrow ripped apart by flying monkeys: some traumatizing shit right there.

cb67ef506492caa493438edb4eacd188Flying. Fucking. Monkeys!!! Great way to get the kiddies started until they’re ready for the “heavier stuff.”

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The cackle that spawned a million nightmares…

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World War II brought whimsical escape and some slow burning suspense to the cinema, but strict codes limited what could be depicted on screen.

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Veronica Lake is spellbinding!

I married a Witch   (1942)

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.

Not a horror film, (not much satanism happened on screen in the ’40’s). Witchcraft and love-spells 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 have a certain  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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The devilish silhouette in the shower scene in The 7th Victim.

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A slow-burning film noir with Satanic cult accents.

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Angel On My Shoulder   (1946)

Not a Horror film at all, but notable for Claude Rains (The Invisible Man, 1933, The Wolf Man, 1941, The Phantom of the Opera, 1943) who has a great presence, and some great lines,  as The Devil in this classic.

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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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Night of the Demon, AKA Curse of the Demon (1957)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin, as you like it. Or, Newcastle beer. A black magic classic in which the supernatural collides with science! American professor John Holden (Dana Andrews) arrives in London for a conference on parapsychology only to discover that the colleague he was supposed to meet was killed in a freak accident the day before. It turns out that the deceased had been investigating a cult lead by Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). Though a skeptic, Holden is suspicious of the devil-worshiping Karswell. Following a trail of mysterious manuscripts, Holden enters a world that makes him question his faith in science.  It is adapted from the M. R. James story “Casting the Runes” (1911). Did you know?? “Passing the runes” became part of the lyrics in The Rocky Horror Show because of this film.

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“Dana Andrews said prunes, Gave him the runes, And passing them used lots of skills.” –  lyrics from the opening song to The Rocky Horror Picture Show – ‘Science Fiction Double Feature,’  are due to Night of the Demon.

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Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle   (1958)

Satanic Sommelier: Mix up a Manhattan! A cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.  Not a horror film. 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. Helped pave the way for TV series Bewitched (1964 – 1972) and American Horror Story Season 3: Coven (2013).

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Oh Man! Like… Wow! The Sixties like really  unleashed the Devil upon an unsuspecting cinema-going audience, Man!!! Can you dig it?

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A satanic classic! Featuring the exquisite Barbara Steele as a vampire witch!

Black Sunday   (1960)

Satanic Sommelier: A nice Chianti, or try Strega liquor. (Italian: La maschera del demonio), also known as The Mask of Satan and Revenge of the Vampire, is a 1960 Italian gothic horror film directed by Mario Bava. A classic of the genre and launched the careers of Bava and actress Barbara Steele. A vampire film empowered by Satan and filled with gothic atmosphere. At the time of it’s original release the violence was considered too much and was censored.

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Patricia Jessel and Christopher Lee in Horror Hotel

Horror Hotel, AKA City of the Dead   (1960)

Satanic Sommelier: Chardonnay, chilled. 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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Over-selling it a bit… but still a classic of occult horror genre.

Night of the Eagle, AKA Burn, Witch, Burn!   (1962)

Satanic Sommelier: Newcastle beer. Something of a classic of it’s time. When a British professor (Peter Wyngarde) ties his success to his wife’s (Janet Blair) black magic, he destroys her voodoo kit.

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Some people never learn.

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The poster says it all… except for the really cool masquerading, evil, vampire cult.

Kiss of the Vampire   (1963)

Satanic Cinema Sommelier: Absinthe, and/or Champagne. Not quite a diabolic film, but there is a vampire cult and some occult magic ritual. A honeymooning couple are invited by the mysterious Dr Ravna to a party at his spooky castle…  green liqueur… hypnotic piano music… a masquerade ball… dancing… the young couple get separated… a vampire cult… a “professor” working with the occult… and killer vampire bats! A standard plot precursor to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Having a devil of a good time in – Kiss of the Vampire, 1963

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The Red death with a pack of Tarot cards.

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The Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death  (1964)

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend Casillero del Diablo as your affordable go-to red wine.  Based upon the hypnotically perverse work by Edgar Allan Poe, and starring the adorable and inimitable Vincent Price as a tyrannical 12th-century prince (a mix of Gilles De Rais and the Marquis De Sade) who is intrigued by the genuine innocence of a poor village girl and takes her to live amid the immorality of his court where he strives to compel her to join him in the “glories of Hell.”. Some Cabalistic occult significance can be read into the progressive colorization of the rooms leading to Prince Prospero’s (Vincent Price) black chamber.

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Vincent Price delights in being deliciously evil.

Vincent Price and Hazel Court are an aristocratic couple attempting to prove their evilness to their Master Satan in 1964’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death‘.

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Hazel Court dedicates herself as a handmaid to Satan in 1964’s Masque of the Red Death by branding an inverted cross on her breast.

 Did you know??? Masque of the Red Death is the first appearance of an inverted cross as a symbol of Satanism in film!

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Devils of Darkness   (1965)

Satanic Sommelier: Cassilero del Diablo – Cabernet Sauvignon, or Something sweet & creamy. If you are a fan of Hammer horror then you should enjoy this fun gem about a suave, French vampire with a satanic cult following. It begins like a Hammer gothic vampire film with a troop of gypsies in a European forest but, as the body count rises almost as quick as characters are introduced,  the story veers surprisingly towards London in the swinging sixties where the occult boom has just started. Contains some interesting black magic references and tropes as well as the tawdry details of the complicated love affairs of vampires.

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Sharon Tate in Eye of the Devil.

Eye of the Devil (1966)

Satanic Sommelier: Chilled Chardonnay. 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. images-25

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.’

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Rosanna Schiaffino & Sarah Ferrati in The Witch in Love. Original Vintage Photograph 1966

The Witch,  aka La Strega In Amore  (1966)

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Strega is good stuff! Its yellow color comes from the presence of saffron. It is slightly sweet, semi-viscous, and has a bold, complex flavor with strong minty or coniferous notes.

Satanic Sommelier: Strega Liquer (of course!), or try a smooth Italian red with smoky notes. Don’t let the opening credits fool you! More of an atmospheric Drama/Mystery than a horror, but notable for it’s good but simple story, artistic camera work, and small cast of striking characters. It is based on the novel Aura by Carlos Fuentes and the story could certainly be remade into an effective film today. This little known Italian (dubbed into English) film (also called ‘The Witch In Love’ or ‘Strange Obsession’) is a film about the witch’s powers of “glamour” in the archaic sense of the word, meaning magic or enchantment. A historian goes to a castle library to translate some ancient erotic literature. While there he discovers what he believes to be supernatural forces at work. Seductive Sixties witchery to enchant the imagination.

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There is a Yin-Yang thing going on with these two fascinating women.

The gorgeous Rosanna Schiaffino is completely bewitching as Aura, and the older and formidable Sarah Ferrati carries a mysterious air as the widow Consuelo. The words witch or witchcraft are never even mentioned and there are no overtly obvious occult tropes, but there is plenty of subtle witchiness to be found. The Witch manages to cast a spell through it’s convincing performances and gothic atmosphere. There are a couple of points that lead us to suspect this film had an effect on Dario Argento’s work on Suspiria. One devil in the details are the curtains in Consuelo’s suite  which happen to be the exact same ones Jessica Harper can be seen hiding behind while observing the witches in the secret passage near the end of Suspiria. Also, the dubbed English voice of Consuelo sounds, at times, remarkably like the voice of Helena Markos – Mater Suspiriorum.

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Sarah Ferrati casts a deadly spell in “The Witch”, 1966

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Incubus  (1966)

Satanic Sommelier: A bottle of Casillero del diablo. Incubus (Esperanto: Inkubo) is a black-and-white American horror film filmed entirely in the constructed language Esperanto. It was directed by Leslie Stevens, creator of The Outer Limits, and stars William Shatner, shortly before he would begin his work on Star Trek. Considered a lost film for years, a copy was found in Paris in 1996 and has had English subtitles superimposed over the French ones. A flawed film but at heart a  good fable of good vs evil. A succubus desires to conquer a pure, virtuous and heroic man despite the warnings of her superior sister succubus to stick with the depraved and perverted. When things become desperate, the titular Incubus is summoned in the form of Milos Milos, an actor soaked in real-life scandal. images-1

 

Article on the Incubus curse

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Witchfinder General,

aka: The Conquerer Worm (1968)

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Vincent Price is the Witchfinder General

Satanic Sommelier: Pint after pint of Guiness. The story details the heavily fictionalised murderous witch-hunting exploits of Matthew Hopkins, a 17th-century English lawyer who claimed to have been appointed as a “Witch Finder Generall” by Parliament during the English Civil War to root out sorcery and witchcraft. The film was retitled The Conqueror Worm in the United States in an attempt to link it with Roger Corman‘s earlier series of Edgar Allan Poe–related films starring Vincent Price—although this movie has nothing to do with any of Poe’s stories, and only briefly alludes to his poem.

Director Reeves featured many scenes of intense onscreen torture and violence that were considered unusually sadistic at the time. In the US, the film was shown virtually intact (uncensored) and was a box office success, but it was almost completely ignored by reviewers. Witchfinder General eventually developed into a cult film, partially attributable to Reeves’s 1969 death from a drug overdose at the age of 25, only nine months after Witchfinders release. 

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Sidney Blackmer and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

Rosemary’s Baby   (1968)

One of Satanic Cinema’s Unholy Trinity (along with The Exorcist and The Omen – see top of page above) and our personal favorite. We have a real soft spot for Ira Levin’s and Polanski’s masterpieces in our black little hearts. We have a page/shrine of our own devoted to it…  (with articles and an interview with a cast member) at :      Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary

and our ….

Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary on Facebook

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Charles Gray in The Devil Rides Out.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic, or have a Guinness or Newcastle. 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!

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Christopher Lee appears in many films on our list, but just which side is he really on?

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! 200-1

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The Devil Rides Out

ΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨΨ9153-7d4b-4ed5-9036-c2248803738aBy the time the Seventies rolled around, Satan was so comfortable in the cinema that he decided to kick things up and really make some heads spin! Everybody was tripping  on the occult trend before you could say “What’s happening?!”

mark-of-the-devil-poster   Mark of the Devil   (1970)

Satanic Sommelier: Guiness or Newcastle Beer. A Cult Horror classic noteworthy for it’s  violent depictions of witch hunting featuring graphic scenes of torture… and a handsome young Udo Kier

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Udo Kier

And the frighteningly creepy Reggie Nalder...

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Reggie Nalder

Who you may recognize from his memorable role in  ‘Salem’s Lot (1979)

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Aleister Crowley. Occultist.

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Dean Stockwell attempts to channel Aleister Crowley in the trippy The Dunwich Horror

The Dunwich Horror   (1970)

Satanic Sommelier: Cheap California Red or microbrew. Produced by Roger Corman (famed for those Poe adaptations featuring Vincent Price). Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee star in this not-so-great adaptation of the story by H.P. Lovecraft. But it has a certain tacky charm and it can be enjoyed for the tacky late ’60’s California occult psychedelic vibe, imagery and music.  dunwich7

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Satanis: The Devil’s Mass    (1970)

UnknownSatanic Sommelier: Low-calorie Beer. One of the only non-Horror films to reach our list because of it’s relevancy to our ongoing discourse. This American documentary film is about Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan. Filmed in San Francisco, California, the film is a compilation of ritual footage and interviews with LaVey’s family, neighbors, and church members, as well Christian priests and Mormon missionaries. An intriguing look into the occult revival stirred up by the cultural upheaval of the ’60’s and 70’s. This documentary can be viewed on Youtube.

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Anton LaVey made quite a splash with his Church of Satan.

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

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)

Satanic Sommelier: A very rich, dry, full-bodied Merlot. Or, try a Bloody Mary. 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  (1971)

Satanic Sommelier: Difficult to choose… Perhaps an expensive French Bordeaux. No? Maybe Absinthe? Chartreuse? Otherwise, Bloody Mary’s for everyone! 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 to the discovery of the real devils in society, i.e.: the unholy alliance of church and state!

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NOT coming to a theater near you. The Devils, (1971).

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.

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Stunning art direction contrasts with gritty reality.

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! Satanic Cinema canon!

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“Oh yes! And then some!”

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Angel is a Devil in Blood On Satan’s Claw

Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971)

Satanic Sommelier: A pint (or two, or three…) of fine Ale.  When a mysterious corpse is accidentally dug up by a boy in a small town, a group of local teens starts acting very strangely. The adolescents, led by a girl named Angel (Linda Hayden), are convinced the corpse was once possessed. Hoping to get in touch with the devil through the body, the teens act out a series of demonic rituals that causes a stir among the townspeople. When word of the satanic activity spreads, certain parents start trying to lock up the kids behind the spooky stunts.

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Count Karnstein offers dark delights in Twins of Evil.

Twins Of Evil   (1971)

Satanic Cinema Sommelier: Merlot. A Hammer Horror featuring Peter Cushing as a stern and pious witch-hunter who can’t determine which of his beautiful and recently orphaned twin nieces has been led astray by the evil Count Karnstein who is investing his time in Satanism and Black Magic in emulation of his wicked ancestors.

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Peter Cushing commands a fanatical Brotherhood in Twins of Evil.

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Simon, King of the Witches

Simon, King of the Witches   (1971)

Satanic Sommelier: We recommend smoking something while you finish a cheap bottle of California red before watching this after midnight. A Cult film even cult film fans may not have heard of. What the hell can we even say about this one? Simon is a Californian sorcerer who lives in a storm sewer who befriends a male prostitute and…. oh, hell. Just watch it when you’re drunk or stoned!

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Whatever you say, Honey. Simon, King of the Witches.

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The Mephisto Waltz   (1971)

Not yet viewed…

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Dracula AD 1972

 Dracula AD 1972   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Incense and peppermint schnapps. What a title! 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! 

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Tripping hippies go gothic! Dracula AD 1972 

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   (1972)

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.  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 the underrated cult classic Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Rum & Coke, or perhaps Vodka cranberry. Screwdrivers are also appropriate, but Beer will do. Now considered a cult classic, “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 (perfect for what it is) with some surprisingly good moments to chill your blood. We first saw this on the late, late, late, you’re up too late show on local TV back in the late 80’s and remember being terribly creeped out and unable to put out all the lights in our basement bedroom afterwards. 

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Asylum of Satan   (1972)

Satanic Sommelier: Cheap beer. 70’s cinema really gave the Devil His due… but without much thanks to this odd movie artifact. Awkward to just plain bad acting, plagued by a funky 70’s music score and the cheapest effects available, this film will at least amuse some Satanic and Le Bad Cinema fans with it’s interesting twists and deaths. Notable for having the Devil costume from Rosemary’s Baby (with a goofy Devil mask) in the big Satanic ceremony at the end when the Prince of Darkness is summoned from Hell.   AsylumOfSatan3

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The Exorcist   (1973)

images-4  Of course! See the Unholy Trinity of Diabolical films at the top of our list (including Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen).

If you have somehow managed to escape viewing this film… what in the Hell are you waiting for?! It was a phenomena that caused a sensation upon release. It scalded the brains of, and traumatized, many a cinema-goer in the early 70’s, and has challenged people’s ideas regarding the existence of an actual Devil or power of absolute evil ever since. It has also caused many a Christian believer to excoriate any occult paraphernalia, such as Ouija boards or Tarot cards, as gateways  to Satanism, possession and eternal damnation. Certain Scenes scared and disturbed people more than any film ever had before – causing physical reactions like increased heart rate,  shaking and nausea – and people leaving the theater. The Exorcist is often imitated, but hardly ever surpassed, in Satanic Cinema.

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The Evil One expresses a palpable presence in The Exorcist.

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Antichrist   (1974)

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Speaking of the Prince of Darkness…. back to Christopher Lee.

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Christopher Lee presides over The Satanic Rites of Dracula… of course! Ab Fab’s Joanna Lumley stars as Van Helsing’s granddaughter.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula    (1974)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic for this very British film.   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 in order to wipe out humankind! Christopher Lee’s Dracula (suffering from a severe case of ennui, no less) is at the center of this diabolical treat. Joanna Lumley (Patsy Stone of Absolutely Fabulous fame) appears as Van Helsings granddaughter.

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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 (1975)

Satanic Sommelier: Mead (Honey wine), or an Apple Cider.  Classic! A 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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Alucarda   (1975)

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A friendship sealed in blood binds the fates of two girls in a convent in Alucarda.

Satanic Sommelier: A Bloody Mary. Or try a Spanish Crianza, followed by “una cerveza mas fina” con guacamole y tortilla chips for this Mexican nunsploitation masterpiece. (Spanish title: Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas, or Alucarda, the daughter of darkness) is a 1977 Mexican horror film directed by Juan López Moctezuma, and starring Tina Romero in the title role. Often thought to be based on the 1872 novella Carmilla, it revolves around two teenage orphan girls living in a Catholic convent, who unleash a demonic force and become possessed by Satan. Though it is a Mexican Spanish language film, it was originally filmed in English, as evidenced by the fact that the lip movements match the dubbed English dialogue. There is something compelling about this film and much of it is due to the ferocity conjured and unleashed in the performance by the leading actress Tina Romero.

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The demonically inspired Alucarda.

This nunsploitation film has some great surrealistic set pieces, plenty of hysterical blasphemy, flagellating nuns, sadistic monks, exorcism and…. bleeding nuns!! Could somebody please explain to us the nun’s bloody habits in this film? Is this a historically accurate style for a certain religious order? or simply a surrealistic flourish? Nuns in habits stained with their monthly blood. Hardcore.

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Alucarda is a must see for any Satanic cinema fan!

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Alucarda is Satanic Cinema canon!

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Satanico Pandemonium    (1975)

Satanic Sommelier: Mexican red or Corona beer. A vintage nunsploitation horror film that feels almost sacred in that cheap plaster saint kind of way. Sister Maria lives with the convent for her charity works, but her imagination is sparked after she happens to see a naked man who has just finished bathing in a nearby river. In her secret fantasies, she becomes agonized by visions from another world, a world in which she is permitted to run free. In this world Satan is her lord, and her acts of violence and blasphemy mount. Sister Maria realizes that she is elected by the Devil himself to destroy the convent and lead her sister nuns into hell. Only the Devil can intuit the dark secrets of her tortured mind. A very interesting film that pays off for what it lacks in it’s twist ending to the story.

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The Devil’s Rain   (1975)

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Ernest Borgnine on the set of ‘The Devil’s Rain’ with Anton LaVey

Satanic Sommelier: Vodka and blood orange lemonade with club soda. Watched this two or three times decades ago so we are due to rewatch. But we remember it as a B movie with not much happening until the last 20 minutes or so. Anton LaVey served as some sort of Satanic consultant on the set. Interesting cast including William Shatner, John Travolta, Tom Skerrit, and… Ernest Borgnine as a Satanic cult leader?!?! Dated gruesome effects are given lots of time to give the viewer to fully take in the “visage spillage” (say that with a French accent and it suddenly makes the film, if not more bearable then, at least more amusing.

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“Visage spillage”

 

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Race with the Devil (1975)

Satanic Sommelier: This one is strictly beer. 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 it is not. The final shot at the ending is memorable. Clay Tanner (the uncredited actor who played The Devil in 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby) appears as an extra. 

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Clay Tanner as Delbert in Race With the Devil.

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

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: Blue Nun. This one is Satanic Cinema Canon. 

Three reasons to watch this film:

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

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

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and… some rather atypical Satanic ritual ritual imagery.

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We felt the same way when we were forced to go to church as a child.

The Omen   (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: We recommend Two Paddocks pinot noir (see 1981’s Omen III: The Final Conflict). One of Satanic Cinema’s Unholy Trinity (along with Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist – see top of this list) The Omen became a trilogy of it’s own with sequels following Damien Thorn’s rise to power as The Antichrist . This movie suddenly brought 666 into public consciousness as a mark of evil. Classic! Satanic Cinema Canon. 

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

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Satanic Sommelier: A cheap 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. AKA Communion, Holy Terror. A frightful 70’s American slasher gem reminiscent of Dario Argento’s giallo shockers. This creeper focuses on murders that occur within a Catholic community, especially around two young sisters and especially  the younger one’s (’80’s beauty Brooke Shields) first communion. It positively spills over with bloody murder and over-the-top 70’s Catholic paranoia. Applause 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 strict Catholic repression appears to encourage mentally disturbed behavior in this story. The creepy, obese, 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 ?

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 (1977)

Satanic Sommelier: Affordable but drinkable Italian red wine… and hashish (smoke ’em if you got ’em).  Suspiria is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most celebrated artistic horror film ever made. Dario Argento’s masterpiece. There has been much discussion about this film and a type of remake or reboot is anticipated for 2018. 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). We started #TheThreeMothers hashtag. Read our Occult-Horror geek articles on Suspiria here:

SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey and the Dark Goddess; Part 1

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess; Part 2

SUSPIRIA: Dario, De Quincey & the Dark Goddess, Part 3

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The pleasure to be derived from viewing Suspiria is akin to getting a heavy dose of LSD and falling into a black light velvet poster trance in the mid seventies with the Hi-Fi stereo on.

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John Carradine in The Sentinel

The Sentinel (1977)

Satanic Sommelier: Whatever your poison may be, drink plenty of it! The gateway to Hell requires a vigilant ward. The requirements for the position are a 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 gritty ’70’s devil movie has a politically incorrect climax to creep you out.

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She was young. She was beautiful. She was next!

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Jonathan Scott-Taylor  wields equal amounts of sinister, sympathy and angelic charm as Damien Thorn.

Damien: Omen II   (1978)

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Satanic Sommelier: Bourbon… on ice. A wonderful sequel – both good and bad! But even the bad is good! Great performances all around – some a bit over-the-top in that wonderful kind of way – with Leo McKern returning as the wise old man, Sylvia Sidney as Aunt Marion, and that Frantic Red-Coated Woman warning: “You are in DANGER!”.

A real outstanding performance by a young Jonathan Scott-Taylor, who appears to have dropped out of acting in the mid-eighties. His charming portrayal of Damien is convincing, sympathetic and frightening. Just a couple years later and the whole Satanist-in-a-boy’s-military-academy motif would be recycled, tweaked and expanded in the wonderfully wicked Evilspeak (1981).

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The Legacy   (1978)

Satanic Sommelier: Hard Cider followed by hot tea with a splash of something. Called “A Supernatural Love Story” in the original theatrical trailer, The Legacy is a clumsy masterpiece only the 70’s could spawn.  It starts off kind of like a Carpenters music video. Although the diablery is so subtle when compared to other Satanic thrillers of the era as to be nearly unnoticeable, there is a lot of “mystery…” and some 70’s tinted Black Magic atmosphere.

A young American couple visit England on what they think will be a business trip, but all goes according to the Evil One’s plans when they are welcomed by a mysterious Unknown-3benefactor into a gathering of rich strangers at a mansion in the country where Destiny awaits them. An awkward film which definitely has it’s moments with delightful nonsense and death scenes that will at least entertain. Sam Elliot, Charles Gray and The Who’s Roger Daltrey each lend their own charm to the film.

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Roger Daltrey in The Legacy.

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Margaret Tyzack as the mysterious Nurse Adams (is she a nun or what?) seems awfully “familiar” (see what we did there?) in The Legacy.

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Escalofrío (Chill)  aka: Satan’s Blood   (1978)

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Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon… with cheese. A remarkably atmospheric, soft-core, erotic occult thriller that mixes Satanism , parapsychology and considerable doses of sex. Andrés and Ana, an urban couple living in Madrid, leave their apartment to spend a day of pleasure in the city with their dog. They end up accepting the invitation of two strangers, Bruno and Berta, to go to their country house for some wine and cheese. A storm surprises them and they have to stay for the night together. The two couples start a session with a ouija board. There are conflicting past situations, such as the affair that Ana had with Andrés’ brother or Bruno’s suicide attempt, which receives criticism from Berta. This will be the beginning of the horrors that will take place in the haunted house. No mistaking this one for a blockbuster but… there are a few genuinely chilling scenes. The occult-infused erotic scenes are of a tasteful quality and not intrusive to the plot. A good story with a twist ending!  An undiscovered treat!

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Satan’s Blood has a good story and some creepy atmosphere!

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Unknown-2The Evil   (1978)

Satanic Sommelier: Beer. A theatrically released film that kind of feels more like a made for TV movie – but with some mild 70’s gore. A somewhat slow-paced haunted house thriller with a diabolical twist.  A psychiatrist (Richard Crenna) buys an abandoned mansion, which was built over hot sulfur pits, in order to set up a drug rehab center (Hey! What could go wrong?). He recruits a group of volunteers to help clean-up and renovate the large house. Kids, this is what’s known as a recipe for certain doom. His wife almost immediately begins seeing ghosts and things go from bad to worse for our would-be remodelers.

What it lacks in parts (some of the acting is forgettable – in fact one character suddenly disappears without a hint of what actually becomes of her) is made up for in other ways. And we have to admit, including actor Victor Buono was a nice touch. Don’t expect too much and you may find it an enjoyable treat of diabolical ’70’s mayhem.

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The Amityville Horror   (1979)

Satanic Sommelier: BeerA cultural phenomenon in it’s time, in it’s own way. The House cursed by evil forces which led to a brutal multiple murder (or is it the other way round?) shook up many a movie goer and pulp paperback reader back in the day. A franchise which continues to beat it’s head against the same tired old walls even today.

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The Eighties wrapped everyone and everything in a cooling shroud of anxiety, troubled darkness and despair. Goth music was stretching it’s membranous wings, AIDS was decimating the most creative and talented, and the Satanic Panic reached it’s paranoid peak!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 15.11.13Inferno   (1980)

Satanic Sommelier: Italian Red. After the marvelous Suspiria (1977) came the second film in The Three Mothers series directed by horror maestro Dario Argento. An underestimated classic with striking cinematography and musical score by Keith Emmerson (of Emmerson, Lake & Palmer). Stars Leigh McCloskey as a concerned brother compelled to leave Rome in search of his endangered sister (Irene Miracle) who has been living in a mysterious house in New York City connected to The Three Mothers. Alchemy is introduced into The Three Mother’s murderous brew in this follow-up to Suspiria’s surreal horror legacy. it should be noted here that actor Leigh McCloskey has expanded beyond acting into art infused with occult philosophy inspired by the Tarot and Kabbalah. Link:  Leigh McCloskey site

Omen III: The Final Conflict    (1981)

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Sam Neil as Damien Thorn assumes his mantle as Antichrist in The Omen III: The Final Conflict.

Satanic Sommelier: Please try a Two Paddocks pinot Noir in honor of winemaker and actor Sam Neil. The third and final film in the original ‘The Omen’ series (let’s not talk about that wretched 1991 Part 4 made for TV fiasco). Although usually considered the weakest of The Omen Trilogy, it is worth watching for suave and sexy Sam Neil as Damien Thorn. 

The 7 daggers of annihilation introduced in the first film, and reprised in the sequel, are put to use in this installment of the trilogy by a brotherhood of monks sworn to exterminating the Antichrist in the form of Damien Thorn, who, along with directing Thorn Industries, has come dangerously close – in influential position – near the American presidency!

Satanic Cinema Sommeliers take note when shopping for your diabolical wine rack – keep an eye out for Two Paddocks  wine because actor Sam Neil is the proprietor behind the New Zealand brand! Link: Two Paddocks Winery

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Feeling a little “Thorny,” are we Damien?

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Satanic Sommelier: A very good beer. This one is 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 (effects a a little dated, but so what?), 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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The Beyond   (1981)

Satanic Sommelier: Jaegermeister with a beer chaser, repeat.  A Cult Horror Classic and Our favorite Lucio Fulci film. There is a blind woman, a house that stands as a gateway to Hell, reference to the ancient and mysterious Book of Eibon, walking dead, spiders…. uhh, Plot? What plot? Who needs a plot?! Don’t try to analyze it, just enjoy the atmosphere and mayhem! Just do it under the influence of something!

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Black Candles   aka: Los Ritos Sexuales Del Diablo (1982)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey. Vintage, soft-core erotica with a diabolical thriller theme. By no means a great, or even a good film. Most of the acting is second rate, but the dull  film is carried along by sexy Satanic siren Helga Liné, who has appeared in many horror films. There are horror elements (a couple of characters die – one by Witchcraft, another by… well, let’s just say it’s an unpleasant end), and plenty of occult and satanic pageantry. What sets this one apart is the scene with the goat – either the young woman in the scene was a great actress or she and the goat actually shared a cigarette after the scene was finished shooting. 1978’s EscalofrÍo, aka Satan’s Blood is a more successful attempt at the erotic-occult theme.

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Helga Liné is a satanic hostess with the occasional Black Mass in her basement.

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Legend   (1985)

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot by Casillero del Diablo. More a fantasy than a Satanic Horror film, but it weaves a spell and certainly falls under our Diabolical theme due to the fabulous Tim Curry as Darkness. Suitable for the whole family once the kids are bored with The Wizard of Oz.

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Mickey Rourke in the exceptional Angel Heart.

 Angel Heart  (1987)

Satanic Sommelier: Jack Daniels or Jim Beam (any way you like) for you “Hairy Angel” types.  Or try Toots Sweet’s favorite Twin Sisters Cocktail Recipe: Ingredients: 1/2 oz. light rum 1/2 oz. spiced rum 1 dash lime juice 1 dash Coca-Cola Directions: Shake with ice and strain into shot glass. Best served in a shot glass. Atmospheric film with an excellent cast. The story pulls you in and won’t let go. Mickey Rourke in his prime as Harold Angel (“Hark! The herald angels sing…”) and Robert DeNiro as Louis Cyphere (wink). Based on the novel ‘Falling Angel’ by William Hjortsberg.

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The bewitching Lisa Bonet.

The novel is centered in New York and never travels to New Orleans like in the film. The book  depicts a gritty Black Mass that takes place in an abandoned New York subway. Well, that scene didn’t 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 with the lovely young (and underrated) Lisa Bonet. Actress Charlotte Rampling appears as a mysterious old flame into more than just star-gazing. A horror mystery with a real twist at the end.

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Robert DeNiro is unforgettable as the cryptic Mr Cyphere.

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Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1987 – 1988)

Satanic Sommelier: Drink something really good… until it hurts. Hellraiser & Hellbound 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. This was a genre-changing horror series when it first appeared and has influenced many since (Silent Hill comes to mind).

By definition, the term Cenobite  refers to a member of a religious order.

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Prince of Darkness (1987)

Satanic Sommelier: That wild green fiendy liquid in the capsule compels us to select either a Vodka gimlet or Midori for this one. Although the 80’s effects may be a little dated, 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 researchers sent to investigate. Donald Pleasance is a Catholic priest and Alice Cooper appears as one of the demented street people being attracted to the strange energy of the church. Do not watch it alone late at night. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness) there is just something really disturbing about this nightmarish movie… “Hello? Hello? I’ve got a message for you, and you’re not going to like it…”

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The Believers   (1987)

Satanic Sommelier: Rum & Coke. A New York psychiatrist (Martin Sheen) finds that a brujería-inspired cult, which believes in child sacrifice, has a keen interest in his own son. Released just as the Satanic Panic was rearing it’s paranoid head, this thriller helped stir up the cauldron of mystical / magical religious intolerance, especially towards Voodoo and Santeria. Memorable ending.

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

The Church (1989)

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine, Casillero del Diablo. (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 an uncanny homage in a Devil Rape scene (compare music), and an old couple patterned on Minnie and Roman Castevet that tour The Cathedral. You should definitely go to The Church, it’s good for your soul.

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Julian Sands as the Warlock.

Warlock   (1989)

Satanic Sommelier: Beer or cider. Released at the peak of the Satanic Panic then occurring in North America, this film played upon the fears of a populace terrified that Satanic covens were lurking in every neighborhood, and they wanted your children for terrible purposes. Although this film is certainly dated by today’s standards, it has served as a style template for many a young male witch (all black wardrobe and long hair). The wickedly handsome Julian Sands is the titular Warlock on an evil mission to destroy God’s Creation.

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unnamed As The Satanic Panic fizzled out, The Nineties saw a fruiting of big budget Devil films with some very big names in Hollywood in starring roles. Culturally speaking, many people were taking sides : true believers or heretics.

Trends towards the popularization and normalization of the New Age, Buddhism, Yoga and all forms of Paganism and related alternative belief systems blossomed.

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The well-paced scene leading up to this image scares the hell out of everybody the first time they watch The Exorcist III.

The Exorcist III    (1990)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey Sour. We don’t usually endorse many sequels, but the third installment in The Exorcist franchise, nicknamed around our household The Apology,” is a worthy successor, (unlike Exorcist “Number 2,” which we’ll just not mention here and pretend never happened). A well-crafted film with a great cast, and a good, tight story with plenty of suspense and psychological religious horror.

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“Now I call that showmanship, lieutenant!”

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Early on in The Devil’s Daughter / The Sect, we are introduced to a frightful Charles Manson-like cultist.

The Sect,  aka The Devil’s Daughter   (1991)

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine or German Riesling. (Italian title: La Setta), also known as  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) who has a destiny with the devil’s crew.  

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Herbert Lom as the mysterious stranger with a package… and some weird eyedrops.

Herbert Lom also stars. It’s a weird film with echoes of Rosemary’s Baby but embellished with some truly bizarre twists, some surrealistic, dreamlike and nightmarish imagery, along with some gore. A very creative departure from the standard formulaic devil films we get these days.

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The Sect offers diabolical face-lifts!

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Dark Waters    (1993)

Satanic Sommelier: A Spanish Crianza or a Portuguese red wine. A good but slow-paced, somewhat surreal and artsy yet atmospheric, nunsploitation horror with strong echoes of H.P. Lovecraft. That croaking, blind Mother Superior though! Creepy! Subtle nightmare fuel.

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In the Mouth of Madness   (1994)

Satanic Sommelier: Chardonnay. Our beloved Sam Neil (Damien Thorn in OMEN III: The Final Conflict) finds himself falling into a plot with heavy influences by the grandfather of Cosmic Horror H.P. Lovecraft.  Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, Prince of Darkness, The Thing).

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Barry Del Sherman as the sadistic Butterfield torments a former-cultist-turned-Tarot card reader in the splendid Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions.

Lord of Illusions   (1995)

Satanic Sommelier: Tequila, any way you can take it. Clive Barker, the genius who created Hellraiser (among many other fine fantastic creations) again adapted one of his short stories into a feature film with this Neo-noir-occult-detective-fantasy-thriller. While some effects are dated, there is some real visceral horror and creepy occult intrigue here for the discriminating palate. Our favorite line comes early in the movie when the leader of a cult threatens an abducted young girl with his pet mandrill (!), telling her: “I think he’s in love.”

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Daniel Von Bargen as the sinister Nix. Lord of Illusions.

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I just like to keep a mandrill on a leash because…

 Nix: “I think he’s in love.”

Abducted Girl: “SCREEEEEAMS!”

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The Craft   (1996)

Satanic Sommelier: vodka cranberry or Zima. A significant feminist milestone in Occult cinema for updating the image of the witch as young, beautiful and daring. It also warns of the dangers of magic… without demonizing or Satanizing! Haven’t watched it since it’s original cinema release; should revisit it soon.

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The Devil’s Advocate   (1997)

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon from Casillero del Diablo. Al Pacino,  Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron star in this slick, very high budget, modern approach to The Devil and all His works. Nice touch name-dropping John Milton, author of Paradise Lost – a Satanic classic listed on The Devil’s Bookshelf

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The Ninth Gate (1999)

Satanic Sommelier: A smooth and satisfying Spanish or Portuguese red wine.  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. However, 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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A mystery is revealed in ‘The Ninth Gate.’

Some occultists may find strange echoes of resonance in the works of Kenneth Grant.

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Reading books like The Ninth Arch by occultist Kenneth Grant will bend and twist your mind into strange worlds and stranger aeons.

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Arnold Schwarzeneger VS Satan. Guess who wins.

End Of Days   (1999)

Satanic Sommelier: Beer. Remember when the world was freaking out about the Turn of the Millennium? 1999 stirred fears of a worldwide computer malfunction, or even the coming of the AntiChrist among the religious. Hollywood eagerly jumped on the paranoid crazy train to Hell with this high budget thriller in which Arnold Schwarzenegger saves the world from Satan. Gabriel Byrne is good as Satan’s host/The Nameless Banker. 

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Gabriel Byrne turns on the heat in End Of Days.

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Where will the 21st Century take Satanic Cinema? Will The Devil maintain a hold on an increasingly Atheistic or non-Christian society? Are Devil films doomed to become obsolete? Or will Evil come from beyond the stars and outside the circles of time?

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Lost Souls  (2000)

Satanic Sommelier: It tries to be champagne but it’s more like a low-calorie beer, or ZIMA. 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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Saint Sinner   (2002)

Satanic Sommelier: Chilled Chablis. We have a hellhound hard-on for almost anything Clive Barker… so we were pleased to stumble upon this made for TV horror movie.  In 1815 California, an emissary of Pope Pius VII, has traveled to a monastery in California to deliver an ancient statue that has trapped two beautiful succubi (female demons), Munkar and Nakir (played with creepy relish by Mary Mara and Rebecca Harrell.

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Munkar (Mary Mara) & Nakir (Rebecca Harrell) are darkly delicious and otherworldly as the ancient succubi sisters (or are they mother and daughter?) on the loose in the 21st century.

The monastery’s order serves as the secret repository for evil, supernatural objects collected by the Church, and kept there for safekeeping.  A young monk, Brother Tomas Alcala (underwear model-cum-actor Greg Serano), and his friend Brother Gregory inadvertently release the murderous demons, who travel to the 21st century using the monastery’s Wheel of Time. To redeem himself, Brother Tomas pursues them to present-day Seattle, where he allies with police detective Rachel Dressler (Gina Ravera) to recapture the homicidal terrors. Mild sexual tension, violence and gruesome horror effects make this one a fun diversion on a night with nothing to do.

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Silent Hill   (2006)

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & Tonic. What fresh Hell is this?! The film makers did not hold back on the sickness for this high quality film! Monsters, murder and a sacrificial religious cult all figure into this innovative dark horror fantasy. Quite a trend-setting taste of 21st century supernatural horror.

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MotherofTears-1The Mother Of Tears    

(2007)   Satanic Sommelier: Italian Red. The third part in The Three Mothers Trilogy. We agree with one critic who described this movie as “an instant cult film”. It is flawed, and after so much anticipation it left many Suspiria and Argento fans disappointed. However, after a few viewings (and a decade  later) we admit that it does have it’s merits and can be enjoyed for some of it’s eccentricities. Don’t expect it to be of Suspiria, or even Inferno, calibre. It is a great collaboration between Dario Argento, his daughter Asia Argento and her mother Daria Nicolodi. Udo Kier also makes a cameo as an exorcist.

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The Mist   (2007)

Satanic Sommelier: Stephen King usually = good beer; but you might want to start off with something a little stronger, like a shot or two of  Wild Turkey, or  whatever you enjoy shooting (no heroin, please!, this isn’t William Burroughs!). Why is this movie on this list? Well obviously… 1. the Lovecraftian influence: H.P. Lovecraft started a trend in horror nearly a hundred years ago and the ideas are only now getting real wide attention and use by horror movie directors. These ideas go far, far beyond traditional ideas of “The Devil”  and “Evil,” and into hostile realms of cosmic dimensions. And 2. the religious zealot crying out for sacrifice (“today’s word is expiation.”) is a frightening look at what can happen (and what is  happening) among certain groups of “sheeple” expecting the “End Times.”

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The House of the Devil   (2009)

Satanic Sommelier: A good Californian red wine to go with your “mushroom” pizza. 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. We highly recommend this one for the simple story and great acting by a small cast.

 

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Anthony Hopkins is always Rite, …and worth watching

 THE RITE   (2011)

Satanic Sommelier: “A nice Chianti.” A seminary student (Colin O’Donoghue) with more ideas on psychiatry than faith finds he must attend a Vatican school of exorcism. He then becomes the apprentice of Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a veteran exorcist, and encounters a terrifying force that causes him to question everything he believes. The Exorcist theme has been played out in numerous ways in cinema in the past decades but few can match the quality of The Rite.

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Sherri Moon Zombie breaks on through to the other side in The Lords of Salem.

The Lords of Salem (2012)

Satanic Sommelier:  Magic mushrooms with a gin & tonic, and a beer chaser. Rob Zombie’s hallucinogenic trip into the weird world of witchcraft is, like it’s creator,  certainly original. This film links back to ancient blasphemous heresy for starters before relocating us into modern Salem, Massachusetts where young DJ Heidi (played by Sherri Moon Zombie) is ensnared in the ancient sorcery of a family curse while trying to break free of a nasty heroin addiction. Worth seeing for Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson and Patricia Quinn (Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and some bizarre artistic moments.

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Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson and Dee Wallace get it rite in old Salem.

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AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN –Pictured: (L-R): Jessica Lange as Fiona, Emma Roberts as Madison, Jamie Brewer as Nan, Taissa Farmiga as Zoe, Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie .

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 some sex and plenty of blood and violence – albeit with an edge of snarky black humor. A strong female cast (Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett to name a few) exhibits the thrills of using potent magical powers. Which Witch will reign Supreme?

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The Three Witches. Triplicity is a theme in Witchcraft

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The Witch (2015)

Satanic Sommelier: Guiness or a good local brew (beer), or an Irish red like Killians. 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 threatening 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. If you are looking for jump scares or buckets of gore, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. 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.

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The Void   (2016)

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Incarnate   (2016)

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