24 user 41 critic

Chemical Wedding (2008)

Not Rated | | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi | March 2009 (USA)
A shy, stuttering professor brings Aleister Crowley back to life.


Julian Doyle

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Simon Callow ... Professor Haddo / Aleister Crowley
Kal Weber ... Joshua Mathers
Lucy Cudden ... Lia Robinson
Jud Charlton ... Victor Nuberg
Paul McDowell Paul McDowell ... Symonds
John Shrapnel ... Crowley
Terence Bayler ... Professor Brent
Richard Franklin ... Dean
Mike Shannon Mike Shannon ... Alex
Helen Millar ... Rose
Geoffrey Breton Geoffrey Breton ... Young Symonds (as Geoff Breton)
Sean Rea Sean Rea ... Young Alex
Thomas Nelstrop Thomas Nelstrop ... Jones
Robert Ashby Robert Ashby ... Chaplain Marshall
Esmé Bianco ... Mavis


In 1947, noted Neo-Pagan 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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

March 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Crowley See more »


Box Office


£2,500,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


John Shrapnel pinned his ears back to make himself more like Alastair Crowley. See more »


When the girl with the (acoustic) violin draws her bow across the strings, the sound that comes out is more like that of an electric violin, or an acoustic violin fitted with a pickup, processed through an effects pedal. There is no evidence of a patch cord plugged into the violin, let alone a pickup attached to it - and in any event, the girl's hand movements over the fingerboard do not match the notes that we hear. See more »


Haddo: Why do you not take my laws seriously?
Victor Nuberg: YOUR laws?
Haddo: "Do what thou wilt. Love is the law, love under will."
Victor Nuberg: Who is it you think you are?
Haddo: Victor, who is it you think I am?
Victor Nuberg: You are Oliver Haddo. H-A-D-D-O, Haddo.
Haddo: Oh, Victor, would you deny me thrice before the cock grows?
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Crazy Credits

On the seventh day the king gave me a golden medal, bearing on one side the words ART IS THE PRIESTESS OF NATURE and on the other NATURE IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME.
  • the Chymical Wedding (1616)
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Written by Bruce Dickinson (as Dickinson)/Adrian Smith (as Smith)
Performed by Iron Maiden
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User Reviews

Very Enjoyable Story Setting Crowley in Modern Times
9 March 2009 | by gavin6942See all my reviews

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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