OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Chemical Wedding aka Crowley (2008)

What can I say...? I officially apologise for this review.

I personally think that this is, all in all, a great movie - then again, I've been studying Crowley's stuff since I was 15. So... to put it bluntly: Someone without any background knowledge on To Mega Therion and his works will probably think "WTF?" throughout the whole movie.

We get treated to an amusing, nifty opening scene of rural England to the sounds of...well, jolly music, of two young men visiting a boarding house, where Aleister Crowley (aka Good Ol' Uncle Al) is residing. "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the Law." - "Love is the Law, Love under Will." (I apologise to the hardcore Thelemites who might be reading this - although I seriously doubt it that there are any -, if I didn't capitalise the right words. I always forget that stuff... Crowleyanism just isn't my thing). Yadda yadda - apparently, one of the young men is seeking initiation through The Beast.

Chatter ensues, including Uncle Al telling the story of Isis and Osiris. For those who don't know it, here's a recap:

Isis and Osiris were together. Now, at some point, because of something else, Seth killed his brother Osiris and cut his carcass into little pieces, all of which he scattered over the land of Egypt. Isis (with the help of her sister) gathered all of the parts of the body and resurrected Osiris. But the phallus of Osiris was missing, and Isis changed into a birth and used a reed to become impregnated by Osiris. The resulting child was Horus.

This, conceived as a "virgin birth", is considered to be a great act of Magick****. It's one of the basics of the whole Moonchild concept. Well, you either have read Crowley and know what I'm ranting about or you don't.

The young man, to whom this is relayed through the old man, tells Crowley that he doesn't have the money to arrive later that week for his initiation, but apparently, a letter which has arrived should solve that - by one Jack Parsons. You can't imagine how much I had to giggle. Apparently, "the head of our Californian* brethren seems to have fallen under the spell of a writer of science fiction." They invoke his (Crowley's) Scarlet Ritual to produce such a Moonchild.


After that is out of the way for the movie to begin, Crowley dies, curses someone on the way out.

Let's start with the plot:

Professor Haddo teaches classical history and literature (I hope I got that right, but over here in Austria, it would be classical history and literature... if anyone is out to correct me, please do so) at the University of Cambridge. He also dabbles in the occult (Hermeticism** springs to mind, mixed with a dose of Thelema***). Dear Professor Haddo is what you expect from a teacher of the humanities who's interested in the occult: He stutters, is overweight and seems to have... issues.

One of the people he regularly interacts with outside of his academic circle is a guy named Victor - and Victor is also interested in the occult, particularly the Crowley-brand of the Art.

Victor is sort of cool, actually.

This is the basis for the bond between the two men. Victor also works in a project meant to create some sort of supercomputer based on quantum mechanics. This computer is not just a computer, though - it is a highly sophisticated virtual reality simulator. As you might (or might not) know, quantum mechanics/physics/electrodynamics is a very, very complex field - one that, these days, has quite a lot in common with Magick****. And no, I am not referring to the David Copperfield-kind here. See footnote.

Anyways, back to the plot. The supercomputer has to be tested, but before the official, backed up and nice testing begins, Victor and Prof. Haddo conspire to use the revolutionary machine for themselves. Haddo is put into the VR-suit, Victor types in the coordinates for the information Haddo should receive... and voilá!

We got us one professor possessed by the spirit of Aleister Crowley... an Aleister Crowley who wants to produce a Moonchild during his time in Haddo's body.

Now, the thing is that: In order to get all of this, you have had to somewhat understand the introduction of the movie, the one playing in 1947 (yes, that's actually when Crowley died... although he didn't die of a heart attack due to a letter from Parsons*****) - otherwise, it won't make any sense to you. You won't understand the significance of the colour Red (the Scarlet Whore), the little quips from Crowley, the whole sex-magick stuff (I am wondering if we're talking about IX° here...)... everything.
The remark about Mathers' mother's hair colour will seem completely unimportant and random to you. If you don't remember from the introduction that Jack Parsons has begun the Scarlet Ritual (remember?) in order to produce a Moonchild and do the maths (all two things based on things that are mentioned only once or twice, all in all), the whole movie will seem a bit pointless, and the "big reveal" at the end (which hasn't been a reveal for anyone who knows that sort of irrelevant stuff) will seem a bit hazed and inconsequential to the viewer.

I can see why this movie doesn't score that high in the average horror review. First of all, there is little bloodshed/gore/horror. I wouldn't exactly call it a horror movie, but I don't know what other kind of genre it would/should belong to. Seriously, it's...

Second - and I think that's the most important aspect of this movie - I don't think the average horror movie fan is that well-versed in Western occultism, especially the works of Aleister Crowley. In order to understand the movie, you really ought to have read... uhm... quite a lot by Uncle Al; you have to know about his life, his philosophy, the concept and philosophy of Thelema, Western Hermeticism, the OTO, Crowley's life, his relationship with Parsons, the whole Scientology-OTO-thingie, politics of the occult world before WWII... and I don't want to insult my few readers, but most of that stuff is known only to serious students of the occult. Anyone can read a book by Crowley, but there aren't that many who actually understand what he was saying.

Hell, even the name of the protagonist is an inside joke. Joshua Mathers. It's so obvious it's not even funny anymore. Or is it really just me who notices those things? I mean... seriously. Joshua. Yoshua. Yeshua. Jesus. Moonchild. And 'Mathers'? Please. But nice touch, really.

Note also that the name of the guy who gets possessed by Crowley, Prof. Oliver Haddo, was one of the pen names of The Beast.

It's stuff like that that can make the movie really enjoyable (also consider the trick of Prof. Haddo with turning water into wine). Without... hrmph.

Without that amount of background knowledge, the movie will seem incoherent, weird, even pointless at times.

That said, I enjoyed it immensely. Quotes from Crowley's works and references to it are abundant, even if they're sometimes mangled a bit for the "average" audience. Trying to view this movie as a non-occult person, I'd say that the dialogues are terrible, at times nonsensical and that there is no horror involved in it. However, as someone who is intimately familiar with Crowley and his work, I was enjoying every single minute of Chemical Wedding (although it still hurts my soul that it's "Chemical" Wedding instead of Chymical Wedding... that would have added a nice touch).

Frankly, I can't tell you a lot more about this movie without delving deeply into the realm of the occult and of Crowley's Thelema. And frankly, I don't think that you would be interested in reading that. In the end, it would boil down into me talking lots and lots about ...weird stuff.

Something I definitely have to criticise is the inclusion of Kal Weber as the theoretical physicist Joshua Mathers. Whilst the character in itself is a plausible concept, and the name will get many chuckles from occultists and magick-workers, the movie could have done without him. There is a love-affair between him and a female, redheaded student at Cambridge which was just unbelievable. Maybe it's me and my knowledge about how such affairs turn out in the end (not good for the party that already holds a degree and is supposed to teach and work instead of fucking young students)... but seriously. The role of Yoshua could have been done better - much better, considering the whole Moonchild-thing.

Besides for the constant occult references that only a small part of the viewers will get, the theoretical physics-jargon was also something that one shouldn't put into a movie made for the average viewer. References to Einstein's famous e=mc² abound, as do terms from theoretical physics that the average viewer just won't understand. I'm in the lucky position to know a bit about occultism/Magick and less about theoretical physics, but hey: If you make a movie, don't expect that everyone knows that kind of stuff. I got a good chuckle out of some obscure references to quantum physics, but I bet all my books on the fact that most people won't. Ever.

I hate to have to reference movies outside of the horror genre, but I guess that Chemical Wedding suffers from the same things as Dante 01 or PI: If you're not into the occult, the qabbala and Magick, you won't get much of what those movies are actually about.

Hence: Two different ratings for this one.

cyn-score: 8.75/10 for making me get up and get back into doing more workings.

normal-score: 4/10 for being an incomprehensible pile of spent time wondering about what these people are babbling about.

(See? I can do both, normal reviews and "HOLY CRAP IT'S A CROWLEY FLICK!")

Anyways, I hope to see more movies catering to an audience such as myself.

* I wasn't too sure whether to spell it like that or make it Caliphornian, or Caliph/fornian, or any of those combinations combined with "fornication". Pardon the pun.

**=0 Uhm... google?

*** Knock yourself out.

**** Oh come on, you know the definition. Don't make me pray it. Please... *sighs* Okay. But only because it's you.

You've been warned.


Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.

(Illustration: It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take “magickal weapons”, pen, ink, and paper I write “incantations”—these sentences—in the “magickal language” ie, that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct I call forth “spirits”, such as printers, publishers, booksellers and so forth and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of Magick by which I cause Changes to take place in conformity with my Will.)

In one sense Magick may be defined as the name given to Science by the vulgar.


ANY required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of Force in the proper manner, through the proper medium to the proper object.

(Illustration: I wish to prepare an ounce of Chloride of Gold. I must take the right kind of acid, nitro-hydrochloric and no other, in a vessel which will not break, leak or corrode, in such a manner as will not produce undesirable results, with the necessary quantity of Gold: and so forth. Every change has its own conditions.

In the present state of our knowledge and power some changes are not possible in practice we cannot cause eclipses, for instance, or transform lead into tin, or create men from mushrooms. But it is theoretically possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable by nature and the conditions are covered by the above postulate.)

*****Jack Parsons. Look him up.

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