CANNON MONTH 2: Suicide Cult (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I love this movie so much. So much that I have a pull quote on the back of the Severin blu ray. 21st Century re-released this in 1980 and their poster says “a congressman lies rotting in the corpses of the jungle” which totally is to remind you of Jonestown, adding even more scum to this already somewhat odd movie. This was first on the site on August 2, 2017.

Whenever someone asks — and they often do — “What’s the craziest movie you’ve ever seen?” I usually respond with Suicide Cult. I’ve never had to pick my jaw off the floor more, as watching it felt like the little people I am certain live in my TV were putting on a magical play just for me, using the things I love best. The 1970s. Carnivals. Satanism. Biorhythms. Astrology. Government conspiracies. Religion. This is one film that honestly has it all — and then some.

Man, let me see if I can sum it up:

A government organization called INTERZOD, led by Alexei Abernal, uses technology and astrology to discover threats to the world. One of them is the cult leader Kajerste, who is wanted for crimes in three different countries. And how do they find these people? By determining their individual zodiacal potential for response to environmental situations and stimuli, that’s how.

The movie smash cuts into a ton of locations and ideas within the first ten minutes, spinning your head, before we meet Alexei’s wife, Kate (Monica Tidwell, the November 1973 Playboy Playmate of the Month who was the first Playmate to be younger than Playboy magazine itself), who sees her adviser Mother Bogarde, surely based on Madame Blavatsky. The young girl is possessed, so she must be stripped and put in a robe. Alright — we also learn that she doesn’t even know her own birthday or may have had it changed at Alexei’s command. Seems he’s a crazy husband — he has security watching her, she isn’t allowed to leave all that often, he doesn’t introduce her to anyone and he lies about what he does. They’ve been married for five months and haven’t had sex! But it turns out that she might be the new Virgin Mary, which makes perfect sense once you start watching this. Turns out she even had an Immaculate Conception at one point and gave her baby to the Catholic Church.

Now, INTERZOD wants to kill off Kajerste with tranquilizers and videotapes and doubles and the help of a Congressman — who gets killed by the cult and this movie came out three years before Jonestown, so imagine. In fact, the cult wipes everyone out and everyone else close to Kate.

But hold on…I want to warn you now. This movie is pretty much all talk about religion and the zodiac. It introduces some insane ideas that could be awesome and then does absolutely nothing about it. In fact, just when it seems like there might be some resolution to the film’s many plots, it just ends with no resolution!

Can a film be both boring and not boring all at the same time, packed with ideas but so frustrating because you wish you could see the movie that it could have been? Oh yes, that would be Suicide Cult. It’s a movie that could have only been made in 1975. I wonder, if you take enough mind-altering substances, will this film make sense? I am willing to go into a sensory deprivation tank with just this film to find out, Ken Russell directing me.

This film is also called The Astrologer, but there’s another film with the same title that could be even stranger. Made by director, producer, psychic to the stars and actor Craig Denney, it’s a movie about an astrologer who goes on an adventure to find jewels, then becomes a major star so big that he makes a movie about himself called The Astrologer that he watches within the film The Astrologer, then he goes into diamond smuggling, finance and killing people. The entire soundtrack was stolen from the Moody Blues, who get credited for the film! And it’s only been released on VHS and played once on the CBS Late Movie but it’s out there on the web and well worth hunting for.

People also ask me, what movies are you excited about this summer? I always answer, “NONE OF THEM!” Not when bursts of pure unknown crazy can still be unearthed from four decades in the past about psychic killers or astrologers who become giant stars that murder people! I beg you Hollywood! Let maniacs take over your films again!

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