Archive for the Media Macabre Category

13 Days till Hallowe’en and the Devil Rides Out

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives on October 18, 2017 by Occult Detective

We’ve entered into the sublime swell of telluric energies that rise during this, the season of the witch. Thirteen glorious days out from All Hallow’s Eve and the esoteric influx of eldritch sorceries are nearing their zenith…

Today I’d like to spotlight two items that are, in a sense, a single thing. I draw now your attention from the mundane world about you and entreat your assiduity be turned toward one of the premiere examples of the occult detective genre — The Devil Rides Out.

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Dennis Wheatley was a prolific author, to say the least. Heralded as “The Prince of Thriller Writers”, I favored his “Black Magic / Duke de Richleau” novels, of course, but Wheatley’s work as a whole were brilliantly well-paced. I chewed through them as a boy and still hold a fond place in my heart for them.

Yes, they’re stuffy and so very British, but that’s part of their charm.

As for what I consider his finest work, The Devil Rides Out, written by Dennis Wheatley in 1934, is a sordid tale of black magic and the occult. While it is a product of its time, I believe it still holds up and has a captivating allure, even now.

It helped considerably that Wheatley got on quite well with Aleister Crowley and, it should come as no surprise, the Beast bears more than a passing resemblance to the novel’s antagonist Mocata.

 

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As much as I love the novel, however, the film adaptation of The Devil Rides Out is really something special. It aired on Turner Classic Movies last night and, once again, I could not look away. Christopher Lee as Duke de Richleau is not only brilliant casting, but is easily Lee’s finest performance, and that’s saying a lot.

“Director Terence Fisher has a ball with this slice of black magic, based on the Dennis Wheatley novel. He has built up a suspenseful pic, with several tough highlights, and gets major effect by playing the subject dead straight and getting similar serious performances from his capable cast. Christopher Lee is for once on the side of the goodies.” — Variety

If you’ve not seen it, you should make a point of immersing yourself in The Devil Rides Out. It holds with me a rather curious distinction, shared only by Angel Heart, in that it is a movie that surpasses its source material despite said material being near brilliant.

It is an inspiring film, heavy handed at times, but a delight to the senses. It draws from the novel, capturing its frantic pacing, but is able to frame the narrative through Lee’s performance in such a way that elevates the material even further.

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12 Movies to Inspire Your Magic(k)

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre on August 7, 2017 by Occult Detective

Yesterday, druid author John Beckett published a blog entitled 12 Movies to inspire your Magic. In the post he states “if you’re feeling a bit too mundane and you need some magical motivation, give one of these a try“.

While there are several fine movies on his list of inspirational works, I would only include two from his article in a list of my own. One would come from his initial 12 and one from his “not for this” section.

So let’s have a go, shall we, and in no particular order:

Excalibur: A brilliant choice by John. He’s spot on about the brilliant performance by Nicol Williamson as Merlin. And Helen Mirren’s Morgan La Fey is equal to the task.

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The Wicker Man: John finds the depiction of paganism off-putting here, despite being a fan of the movie, but I beg to differ. What you see is living, breathing paganism at its most human. No, I’m not suggesting we return to sacrificing our fellow man to the gods, but the moral of the story is clear and compelling.

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Now for 10 that didn’t make Mr. Beckett’s list but make mine —

The Devil Rides Out: This brilliant adaptation of the Dennis Wheatley classic stars Christopher Lee in his finest performance.

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The Ninth Gate: A lot of people were turned off by this Johnny Depp thriller, but I found it engaging.

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Night of the Demon: An often overlooked masterpiece adapting M.R. James’ Casting of the Runes.

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A Dark Song: This recent film blew me away. Yes, the ritual’s a bit dodgy but the spirit and intent are masterfully done.

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Simon, King of the Witches: Seldom seen by most people I talk to, but this one blew me away at the drive-in in the 70s. Definitely a cult classic.

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The Love Witch: Anna Biller pulled out all the stops for this 70s horror movie homage.

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Necromancy: Orson Welles, just before the end, drunkenly chews the scenery in this low budget thriller. Hard to find, but worth a look.

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Lucifer Rising: Kenneth Anger’s powerful ritual trapped in celluloid, evocative and transformative. For the record, I prefer Jimmy Page’s soundtrack.

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The Song Remains the Same: Speaking of Page, this film, while far from perfect, captures real magic at work.

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And now for something completely different:

Ghoulies: Yes, Ghoulies. I know it’s a Gremlins rip-off, but the ritual scenes and Detective’s Michael Des Barres was really quite something.

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My thoughts on A Dark Song

Posted in Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre on May 19, 2017 by Occult Detective

a dark song

Liam Gavin has delivered an intense and atmospheric occult thriller that is, in a word, absolutely brilliant. Moody and claustrophobic, the tension escalates throughout, and with but two principle players, the stark tapestry woven between them is mesmerizing.

Catherine Walker and Steve Oram are wonderful in this. Walker’s vulnerability and pain are the linchpin to the story, while Oram’s performance perfectly captures so many occultists I’ve had run ins with.

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Evoking the Abramelin ritual, carefully constructed and acted, this is a movie about so much more than sorcery as the real magic lies in human emotion, raw and visceral. But magic abounds and is captivating and painful to watch as the drama unfolds.

It’s a beautiful and frightening picture, with a resolution that feels transcendent and important.

This is the second vibrant and exuberant esoteric film I’ve seen this year, the first being The Love Witch, a lustful and decadent camp, that was an utter delight. Now, with A Dark Song, we have a more tenebrous exploration of magical enterprise.

A really cannot recommend this picture highly enough.

Available via Vudu, Amazon, or iTunes

May the Fourth Be With You

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre on May 4, 2017 by Occult Detective

MAY4TH

It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks we’ll be celebrating Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary. I was a few months past my 11th birthday, the perfect age for what this little movie was offering. Star Wars, an homage to the serials of George Lucas’ youth, was everything to me then. I was Luke, a kid living on a small farm, dreaming of adventures in far off lands, believing fervently in an ancient, mystical power that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together. Forty years later, I still do.

Star Wars was a near perfect movie. All these years later, I see each subsequent film attempt to strip just a little bit of magic from the original, the one whose opening scrawl did not begin with the words “Episode Four: A New Hope”.

But try as they might, they can never rob from me that feeling that washed over me, sitting on the aisle seat, far right of the theatre in the front row, planted next to some old woman whom I didn’t know.

It was my coming of age in a lot of ways. It was the first movie I saw by myself. No parents. No friends. I was dropped off at the theatre to stand in an impossibly long line, and by the gods, I was by shear luck (or providence) the last person admitted into the theatre. I was scared, to be honest, being alone in a strange city and unaccompanied by any sort of supervision, but once the movie started and John Williams’ score carried me away… I wasn’t alone, or frightened… I was transfixed and amazed and reborn.

For many people in my generation, Star Wars was a defining moment, and though for most of us that magical experience is a distant memory, I can’t help but think its transformative effect is still with us now.

Ignoring everything that came after, clinging to the memory of that first glimpse into that universe, I can still let go of my conscious self and act on instinct. I can still feel the Force flowing through me.

Happy Star Wars Day. May the Force be with you… always.

Pick a film for every year you’ve been alive?

Posted in Media Macabre on March 21, 2017 by Occult Detective

I’ve decided to take the “Pick a film for every year you’ve been alive” Challenge and to be honest, this was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Some years were near impossible to narrow down to a single film, especially in the 80s.

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Anyway, off we go, 50 years of moviedom.

1966 — Dracula, Prince of Darkness
1967 — You Only Live Twice
1968 — The Devil Rides Out
1969 — Legend of the Witches
1970 —  The Dunwich Horror
1971 — The Omega Man
1972 — The Night Stalker
1973 — The Exorcist
1974 — Chinatown
1975 — Jaws
1976 — Logan’s Run
1977 — Star Wars
1978 — Halloween
1979 — Alien
1980 — Somewhere in Time
1981 — Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 — Blade Runner
1983 — Eddie and the Cruisers
1984 — Dune
1985 — Remo Williams: The Legend Begins
1986 — Highlander
1987 — Angel Heart
1988 — Alien Nation
1989 — Road House
1990 — The Exorcist III
1991 — The Fisher King
1992 — The Last of the Mohicans
1993 — Tombstone
1994 — The Crow
1995 — Seven
1996 — From Dusk till Dawn
1997 — The Devil’s Advocate
1998 — Saving Private Ryan
1999 — The 13th Warrior
2000 — Unbreakable
2001 — The Others
2002 — Bubba Ho-Tep
2003 — The Last Samurai
2004 — Hellboy
2005 — Serenity
2006 — The Prestige
2007 — 1408
2008 — The Spiderwick Chronicles
2009 — Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
2010 — Shutter Island
2011 — Thor
2012 — Prometheus
2013 — Odd Thomas
2014 — Edge of Tomorrow
2015 — The Martian
2016 — Doctor Strange

Happy Anniversary, Buffy

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives on March 10, 2017 by Occult Detective

BuffyCast-S1_(1)

Has it really been 20 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on the WB?

How an unsuccessful early 90s movie became a smash-hit late 90s television series is some sort of esoteric alchemy that can not rightly be explained. Against all odds, Buffy conquered the small screen with a largely unknown cast spouting witty, irreverent, and sardonic dialogue.

The Scooby Gang, as they were so aptly called, were not us… they were who most of us wished we were.

Buffy was, without question, ground breaking television and, arguably, one of the finest modern depictions of the occult detective genre.

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Fedoras off to Joss Whedon and the entire cast, crew, writers, and directors that helped turn Buffy into something more than just a tv show. Does it hold up after 20 years? Yeah, mostly. Oh, there are a few chinks in the armor, here and there, but the heart remains, even if there is a stake plunged into it.

My Favourite Movies of 2016

Posted in Media Macabre on December 31, 2016 by Occult Detective

Another year comes to a close. I saw far fewer movies this year than normal, and they are very genre heavy. I’m sure I missed out on some great films, and one in particular, The Love Witch, is on my must-see list just as soon as it’s available for purchase.

Let’s have a look —

10: Warcraft

This movie got a lot of hate, but I enjoyed it over-all. It would have ranked higher but the ending really left a sour taste in my mouth.

09: The Witch

Nice, suspenseful period piece that was visually stunning. A little light on the scares, and I think it could have gone a bit farther, but it was a beautiful film.

08: The Invitation

This movie was just bloody dripping with tension throughout, and when it finally exploded — wow, what an unexpected, and very violent, twist.

07: The Nice Guys

My friend Doug pressured me to watch this and I’m glad he did. It was easily the funniest movie I saw all year, with terrific performances from the entire cast. The 70s never looked so good.

06: The Legend of Tarzan

Easily the most gorgeous movie I saw. As a huge fan of Tarzan, I loved the story and thought it really captured the feel of Burroughs’ most famous creation. Cast a different Tarzan and Williams and this could have been my number two.

05: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

In a welcome return to Rowlings’ Wizarding World, this movie was hit or miss, but I was enamoured and glamoured by the possibilities Fantastic Beasts presented. I think future installments need some refinement, but overall a thrilling new franchise addition.

04: Captain America: Civil War

Marvel continues to deliver. With as many characters as this movie showcased, they did a fantastic job of keeping all the pieces moving.

03: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This movie ranks as high as it does because of the Third Act. Acts One and Two were uneven, but the end was a fantastic culmination of what I had hoped for.

02: Suicide Squad

Wow, this movie irritated a lot of people. Not me. The soundtrack popped, Harley Quinn and Deadshot were slick, and hey even Batman was cool. I think the plot would have made for a better Justice League Dark movie, but I thought it was killer and easily the best modern DC movie to date.

01: Doctor Strange

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Doctor Strange is arguably my favorite movie of all time. It pushed all the right buttons. Sure, there were a couple of sour jokes, but I can live with that. What it delivered was mind-bending special effects and the most resonating depiction of magic on screen I’ve ever seen. And the end, seeing a ‘super-hero’ defeat the Big Bad by using brains over brawn, was exactly what the Doctor ordered.

So there you have it, my Top 10 Films of 2016. I don’t expect many to agree with them and that’s okay. I look forward to reading your own lists.

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