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Fergus [Film Festival 05.07.08] movie review horror

Year: 2008
Director: Julian Doyle
Writer: Julian Doyle & Bruce Dickinson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link (in videos)
Review by: Fergus
Rating: 8 out of 10

This cross genre flick based around the celebrated magician Aleister Crowley was the closing film in the 8th London Sci-Fi Film Festival, and with Julian Doyle, Bruce Dickinson and Simon Callow all in attendance; it was certainly a memorable way for the festival to close.

For anyone who has not heard of Crowley, you're in for a treat. He was, among other things, an occultist, writer, philosopher, hedonist, drug and sexual experimenter. Such rich base material has been used to create a movie that appeals on different levels: comedy, sex, and horror are certainly the main genres but listen to the music and look around the scenes and you’ll notice lots of other occult candy worth tasting. Because Doyle and Dickinson had this script for so many years, it is quite rich in detail.

The first 10 minutes are slow to unwind and give little indication of what is coming. The real action is kicked off by Crowley fanatic and Cambridge lecturer Dr. Haddo (fantastically played by Simon Callow) entering a machine that magically transforms him. It is the mix of science with magic that is so important in the film.

However, the fun really starts a few minutes later when Dr Haddo begins his Hamlet lecture with the immortal lines, "To piss or not to piss" and proceeds to urinate all over the front row of the Cambridge University audience that the film really gets going. From this point on Callow's character drives the film forward to such an extent that when absent the rest of the cast struggle a little. While the camera follows Dr Haddo on his wild journey of sexual seduction and general mayhem around Cambridge it is hugely entertaining; so much so that when he is off screen the spell breaks a little. I couldn't help thinking I wanted to see more of this untamed force of nature. And a word of warning; if you don't find the pissing idea amusing, don't bother with the film: you probably won't get it.

In the fascinating Q & A session that followed the film, Doyle and Dickinson spoke of some of the difficulties they had. It took them something like 20 years to find funding, as no-one in Hollywood wanted to touch it as it crossed multiple genres: mystery, thriller, comedy, sex, horror, and sci-fi. Because of the density of the story, summarizing for executives proved difficult. Dickinson told a story of how one production company (in the year of Silence of the Lambs was released) complained that Crowley was just a "nasty man". Right, so Hannibal Lector? "Yes, but he does some nice things". 'Hmm ok maybe we are pitching to the wrong people', they thought.

The low budget makes for a welcome British feel while the simple camera angles and longer takes give it a hammer horror feel. This slightly campy gothic element keeps with Crowley himself as it was never really clear how much of his life’s mythology was fraud and how much was real, but he clearly was a showman. No film has been made about Crowley before, the closest was "The Magician" based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham.

On a side note, there is also a book that accompanies the film which sets out much of the background to the script.

For sure, it will not be everyone's cup of tea, but with the remarkable lead role, the genre mixing and some of the crazy things that have never been filmed before, Chemical Wedding is bound to have many fans, and will most likely turn into a cult favorite. Plus, I guarantee you'll never see fax machines the same again after watching Chemical Wedding.

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Cyberhal (14 years ago) Reply

hope this gets US distribution


exec producer insider (13 years ago) Reply

Its being brought by Anchor Bay US. They are concerned that the subject matter is difficult and are undeceided whether ro release. If they do it will be January

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