After the critical panning that the Aleister Crowley-centric horror film “Chemical Wedding” (aka “Crowley”) recieved last year, you’d think that filmmakers would be hesitant to drink from that same well again. Well, you’d be wrong. LAShTAL tips us off that another director is looking to place Crowley back in the horror-film limelite.
The recent UK chiller CROWLEY (a.k.a. CHEMICAL WEDDING) took cues from the occultist’s life to tell a contemporary story of possession, but [director Nicolas Winding] Refn is aiming for more of a twisted biographical piece. “I am not knowledgeable at all about Crowley’s life,” Refn admits, “and I will need a good writer to put all these ideas in formation. But the moment I called Tom and suggested the project, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. His only question was, ‘When do we start?’ We had a great working relationship on BRONSON, and finally, after many years of trying to break through, I believe he’s now on his way to real stardom. I couldn’t think of anyone better to play the young Crowley. I have no title as yet, and will not be able to get around to it until after the proposed PUSHER 4 at least. But there’s definitely a far-out, sexy, trippy, horrifying movie to be made out of this notorious, Satan-worshipping cult personality. Think Charles Manson times a billion, and that’s what I want to depict on screen.”
Now, we all know that Crowley had no trouble courting controversy, but he certainly wasn’t “Satan-worshipping” or anything resembling “Charles Manson times a billion”. It seems like a lazy shorthand to take this brilliant yet deeply flawed notoriety-chasing libertine and turn him into some sort of maelific embodiment of pure cultic evil. Conservative Christians have worked for a long time to spread the “Satanic Crowley” meme, and to see modern fans of the magician (or at least fans of the idea of the magician) gleefully endorse this narrative is somewhat troubling. For all the objectively terrible things Crowley may have done, he was also a nuanced and sensitive thinker who helped spark (directly and indirectly) the modern Pagan and occult resurgence. I think there is a great movie waiting to be made about Aleister Crowley (who, by all accounts, led a truly interesting life), but I’m not sure horror is the context in which we’ll find it.