In 1947, noted Satanist Aleister Crowley dies. In Cambridge, 43 years later, with the help of a computer, Crowley's spirit takes over the body of Haddo, a mild-mannered, stuttering don. Over four days, as Crowley prepares for an occult extravaganza, bodies pile up, Crowley's elect engage in rites of passage, and Lia, a red-headed campus reporter, sniffs out a story that puts her in grave danger. Mathers, a scientist recently arrived from Cal Tech, may hold the key to her destiny. Written by
In the newspaper article about the "massage parlour atrocity", there are a few typos and editing errors such as "She was know [sic] to be into the occult...", "there are suspicion [sic] that this is [sic] terrible event is in someway [sic] linked..." and the like, and the third-last sentence ends abruptly: "The tutor has a shaven head and according to girls who work at the parlour he carries a cane which he violently." See more »
Why do you not take my laws seriously?
"Do what thou wilt. Love is the law, love under will."
Who is it you think you are?
Victor, who is it you think I am?
You are Oliver Haddo. H-A-D-D-O, Haddo.
Oh, Victor, would you deny me thrice before the cock grows?
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Very Enjoyable Story Setting Crowley in Modern Times
Aleister Crowley, one of the greatest of the magicians, is dead. But what if someone were to synthesize his essence in a computer program, and import it into the human mind... could Crowley be reborn, or at least simulated? England is about to find out, thanks to a program called Z93. As one might expect from Crowley (and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson), chaos ensues.
My background on this film was mixed. I had heard largely unkind things said about it, including suggestions that it wasn't even worth viewing. As for the subject matter, my knowledge is relatively minimal. I've never been an Iron Maiden fan, and although I have read Crowley's "Diary of a Drug Fiend", that is more or less the extent of my awareness of him. I do, however, know a bit about Eliphas Levi, who is referenced in the film.
Despite the rash of bad reviews this film received, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it beginning to end. I found the idea very clever and original, Simon Callow's portrayal of Crowley to be flawless (especially playing two diverse characters), and the film's pushing of the limits to be a welcome surprise. I've seen the limits of violence pushed, but rarely in horror do we see sexual magick pursued with such graphic imagery. One scene involving a fax machine is particularly interesting. The images in general are vivid and alluring. Director Julian Doyle knows how to get his vision on film and does it here.
Besides Callow, the other performances are also top notch. The professors and the female lead are superb. The lead in particular was both sexy and graceful and had all the skills of a seasoned actress. I am not familiar with her work, but if we see her more often, this wouldn't be a surprise at all and may be a pleasant addition to the list of recurring actresses working in cinema today.
I had two minor concerns. First, why is getting a photo of Crowley so hard? One of the subplots involves the school's newspaper looking for a photo and they either never find one or fail to for several scenes. The film takes place in 2000, so the Internet should be available, and even without it, any occult book should have one of the more common photos (such as with Crowley wearing the pyramid on his head). Also, maybe it's me (it's probably me), but I found Mathers and Victor to be confusing. Once Victor gets scarred, there's no problem, but before that I wasn't always clear which one was on screen. Am I alone on this?
I encourage you to see "Crowley" as soon as you can. I find more and more often the few enjoyable films I view are re-issues of classic or forgotten titles, usually foreign. "Crowley" departs from that, breaking the mold... it may just be the first good horror film of 2009 (excluding re-issues). And based on what I'm seeing on the horizon, it will likely not have much competition.
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