The word “occult” comes from the Latin occultus, which means “hidden” or “secret”. Society has long associated the occult with the practices of sorcery and devil worship. It has always represented mankind’s strive to know the unknown, the forbidden.
Strictly speaking, the occult can be associated with many religions, both of the right- (direct, conventional) and left- (chaotic/complex, taboo) hand paths. Some would argue both journeys ultimately lead to the same goal; it is, however the dark that seems to fascinate us the most.
For centuries art has been created, depicting mysterious rituals and visions of the paranormal. The Satanic Panic of the 70s sparked a new interest in the occult and religions of the left-hand path. Reports of satanic ritual abuse flooded in from across the world. It was to become our renewed witch-hunt of the modern age. This had a substantial effect on the genre films of the era and it produced some of the best psychological horrors of all time. A few of these films have gone on to become classics within their own right.
From the ancient folk religions of the rolling hills of the British Isles, to the Illuminati conspiracy theories of the digital age, mankind’s fascination with the occult is ever-present. This list merely pays tribute to just a few mainstream gems on the subject amongst so many more. The following films are listed in chronological order.
1. Witchfinder General (1968) – Michael Reeves
Witchfinder General is based on a novel written by Ronald Bassett. It was shot on a low budget and the screenplay had to be rewritten a number of times as censors kept returning the script. Despite being heavily cut and most of the extreme gore removed before release, the film was still met with some furore due to its graphic nature.
It follows a cruel and merciless Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General. He is accompanied by a twisted sadist and torturer John Stearne, and together they perform “God’s work” travelling across England looking for witches and those in league with the Devil. Witchfinder General features a number of techniques actually used during witch trials, including “pricking” and the “swimming test”.
The two antagonists of the film, Matthew Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne were once a real witch-hunting duo operating during the English Civil War. It is said that Hopkins was somewhat of a self-styled “Witch Finder General” who was responsible for nearly 300 of all 500 executions for witchcraft in the whole of England between 15th and 18th centuries. He was never legally appointed to do this job by Parliament, and his bloody career only lasted for around three years in his early 20s. Hopkins died in his 50s at home from consumption.
Witchfinder General is often considered to be one of the greatest British horrors of all time although it is not necessarily lauded for its historical accuracy. One of the main differences between reality and the events in this film is the complete lack of court proceedings in order to establish guilt.
2. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Roman Polanski
Based on Ira Levin’s novel Rosemary’s Baby, this film is a well-recognised masterpiece. It is the second instalment in Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” with Repulsion (1966) being the first and Tenant (1976) the third in the trio of movies. Polanski followed the novel very closely while adapting it to film, down to attempting to acquire the correct issues of magazines mentioned in it.
Rosemary and Guy move into a new apartment and encounter an eccentric but friendly elderly couple. They become friends and visit each other’s apartments frequently. Her strange neighbours give Rosemary a good luck charm, and Guy unexpectedly lands a role in a play. In the wake of the exciting news, he suggests him and Rosemary have a baby.
After a night of nightmares about being raped by a demonic creature, Rosemary finds out that she is pregnant. She has a tough pregnancy with excruciating abdominal pains and weight loss. After doing some research, Rosemary begins to uncover the real truth behind the events of the past few months and the real identity of the father of her baby.
Perhaps one of the most terrifying aspects of Rosemary’s Baby is the attitude Guy has towards his wife. The troubling issue of consent on the night of the baby’s conception brings to light some very serious problems between the couple. We see Rosemary wither away both in body and spirit as the ones around her take it upon themselves to control her life.
Traditionally, according to Christian views, the Antichrist was to be Satan incarnate on earth. The idea of an evil child born to raise chaos in this world is common throughout 70s horrors. Although this film slightly pre-dates the Satanic Panic phenomenon, elements of it are already evident in this feature. Seen as part of the “Apartment Trilogy” we realise that this is a study of isolation and loss of control.
3. The Devils (1971) – Ken Russell
The Devils is no stranger to controversy. It received an X rating upon its initial release in both the United Kingdom and the USA. Many countries banned this movie outright; those that did not, edited the release heavily. It has not seen a full home video release to this day.
This film follows a handsome and charismatic priest, Urbain Grandier in 17th Century France. He is popular with women and is deemed a philanderer by the town community. After eloping with a woman named Madeleine in a secret ceremony, Grandier comes under fire from the obsessive Sister Jeanne, the Mother Superior of a local convent. She accuses him of witchcraft, possessing and subsequently seducing the nuns at the convent. An investigation ensues in the town of Loudun as a mad and sadistic inquisitor arrives for the trial.
The Devils is largely based on Aldous Huxley’s account of the “Loudun possessions” of the same name. Urbain Grandier was a French priest who was burned at the stake in Loudun in 1634. He angered the Mother Superior of a local Ursuline convent by refusing to become the nunnery’s spiritual advisor. She subsequently accused him of making a pact with the Devil and convinced the nuns to claim that Grandier sent the demon Asmodai to taunt them.
Asmodai is considered to be one of the seven princes of Hell and represents Lust out of the seven deadly sins. After publicly speaking out against Cardinal Richelieu and clerical celibacy, the priest is put on trial, tortured and burned to death at the stake. One of the documents presented as evidence in Grandier’s trial was an alleged pact with the Devil.
It contained a variety of bizarre symbols and was “signed” by different demons, including Satan himself. Its various translations can be found in a vast number of books on witchcraft.
4. Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971) – Piers Haggard
This is one of the “folk horrors” (a term coined by the actor/director and avid horror enthusiast Mark Gatiss) to come out during the late 60s – early 70s era of film making in the UK. It is considered to be of the same ilk as Witchfinder General (1968) and The Wicker Man (1973). There are some elements that all three of the films share. The Book of Witches as well as a witch trial by drowning are present in both this feature, as well as Witchfinder General.
A farmer comes across an unusual skull in one of his fields. He alerts the town’s authorities to his discovery but his fears are written off as insane due to the skull’s mysterious disappearance. Soon, strange things start happening in the town and the children begin displaying alarming behaviour and growing claws and fur.
An evil demon named Behemoth seems to have taken hold of the town’s young people and is causing them to commit hideous crimes. It is up to a local judge to find out the truth and end the demonic creature’s reign of terror.
One of the writers of the plot claims to have in part been inspired by the Manson Family as well as the Mary Bell murders. In a time of newly emerging freedoms and revolutionary change, Charles Manson’s cult’s activities put a damper on the seemingly never ending “summer of love” and inevitably started its decline.
Elements of this are apparent in the pied piper style influence the young woman Ursula has on her clan of possessed youngsters. The demonically motivated horrors committed by the town’s children are faintly reminiscent of the terrifying activities of 11-year-old Mary Bell in 1968 in Britain.
5. Don’t Look Now (1973) – Nicolas Roeg
Don’t Look Now is widely accepted as a significant and important film in the history of cinema. Based on a short story by horror favourite Daphne du Maurier, this is a study of loss and hope as much as it is an intense psychological thriller. At the time of its release, Don’t Look Now was met with some controversy due to the extended sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.
Don’t Look Now follows a married couple recovering from the accidental death of their young daughter. The events unfold in Venice, Italy where they try to come to terms with their loss and move on. The encounter with a couple of elderly psychic women brings new hope as well as tests Laura’s and John’s relationship.
As well as the use of a du Maurier novel as the basis for the film, there are other factors alluding to Roeg’s admiration for Alfred Hitchcock. The fact that the characters keep unknowingly acting out their mental states is reminiscent of Hitchcock. This includes having the couple physically run away to Venice in order to escape grief. A number of different potential literary influences are apparent in Don’t Look Now, among them Proust and Nietzsche.
The cinematography and creative use of narrative makes this movie a work of art as well as a chilling tale that stays with you long after viewing.
6. The Wicker Man (1973) – Robin Hardy
Widely considered to be one of the greatest British horrors of all time, The Wicker Man is a cult classic. It is accompanied by a haunting soundtrack by Paul Giovanni consisting of folk songs sung by the characters. This is as much of an essential part of the plot as the visual components.
This film is about a police sergeant who travels to the fictional Scottish island called Summerisle in order to figure out the fate of a missing girl, Rowan. He discovers that the locals have abandoned Christianity and have been followers of Celtic paganism for generations. He senses some resistance from the locals when he attempts to find out what happened to Rowan. Sergeant Howie eventually discovers the truth about the inhabitants of the island but this knowledge will cost him dearly.
The wicker man was traditionally an effigy ritualistically burned by the Celtic druids. According to his accounts of the wars in what is presently Europe, Julius Caesar told tales of Celtic pagans burning criminals alive inside the statues. However, archaeological evidence suggests that nothing has ever been discovered to point to any human sacrifice by these tribes. It is more likely that due to their hatred for them, Romans and Greeks spread unsubstantiated rumours about the Celt’s cruelty.
7. The Exorcist (1973) – William Friedkin
The Exorcist is based on the novel The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. The idea for Father Merrin came from a meeting Blatty had with a British archaeologist in Beirut who was present at the excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A 1949 exorcism of a young boy by a Jesuit priest had some influence on the possession aspects of this novel.
The film begins with the unearthing of ancient relics by an archaeological team in Northern Iraq. We are then transported to the United States into the home of a single mother and daughter. After playing with an Ouija board and making contact with a spirit named Captain Howdy, the 12-year-old Regan begins to act strangely as well as attracting paranormal phenomena around her. Her behaviour becomes increasingly more disturbing and destructive, which convinces her mother to enlist a priest’s help.
The head of an Assyrian demon named Pazuzu is one of the items found by the archaeologists. It is to become a pivotal point in the development of the movie. Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind. He brought the southwest wind and with it famine according to some sources. Others claim that he protected against disease-bearing winds.
Pazuzu used his powers to cast the goddess Lamashtu down to the underworld. Due to her tendency to steal newborns and babies from mother’s wombs, having amulets of Pazuzu was generally considered a good thing in Assyrian households. Exactly the same real bronze head of Pazuzu can be found in The British Museum.
8. The Omen (1976) – Richard Donner
This movie is a British/American collaboration. It is the first in a series of Omen films and received mixed reviews at the time of its release. Although it is generally considered to be one of the greats, not all critics were impressed with some even describing it as one of the worst films of all time.
This is the story of the family of an American diplomat who move to Great Britain following the tragic death of their newborn son. However, the father Robert, adopts another baby in the deceased infant’s place without telling his wife Katherine that her real baby died.
Strange happenings occur around their adopted son Damien with most animals running scared in his presence. Katherine is convinced Damien has sinister intentions towards her and is witness to displays of his disturbing behaviour. Robert tries to find out the true origins of Damien’s birth and this leads him to discover the unthinkable about the boy.
When Robert travels to Israel in order to find an archaeologist who is also an expert on the Antichrist, he is told that only the seven daggers of Megiddo can kill the Devil’s offspring. Megiddo is located in northern Israel in the Megiddo National Park. It is a large man-made mound that is a site for many archaeological excavations although no daggers have ever been found there. According to the Book of Revelations Megiddo is the location of an apocalyptic battle.
In Hebrew, “Mount of Megiddo” is “Har Megiddo” which is where its Greek name, Armageddon is derived. Almost every story involving the birth of the Antichrist tells of the apocalyptic horrors that will be unleashed upon the world bringing about final judgement and essentially, our ultimate end.
9. The Sentinel (1977) – Michael Winner
This film is based on Jeffrey Konvitz’s 1974 novel of the same name. The author also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Winner. Peppered with minor appearances by some notable actors and actresses, this film has a paranoid vibe with some effective performances.
Reminiscent of and quite possibly influenced by, Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, this film begins with a young model looking for an apartment. She comes across a reasonably priced place in a nice New York City neighbourhood. Alison seems to be only one of two occupants in the whole building, yet she is convinced of the presence of other tenants. Her journey to discover what is really going on leads to a terrifying conclusion.
Despite of at the time having an impressive cast of up and comers as well as seasoned Hollywood veterans – among them Jeff Goldbloom, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner and John Carradine – this movie divides audiences. Some praise it for being a worthy entry into the 70s Satanic horror genre, and others think of it as merely piggy backing on the other features’ success.
The use of deformed people in one of the more chilling sequences of this film has been condemned as distasteful by some. It is interesting to note the similarities between this and Tod Browning’s use of physically disabled and deformed people in his masterpiece Freaks (1932).
10. Suspiria (1977) – Dario Argento
One of the heavy hitters on the list, Suspiria is truly a masterpiece. Carefully chosen soundtrack by the Italian progressive rock band Goblin enhances the eerie fairy tale feel of this film. Suspiria is the first entry in Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy along with Inferno (1980) and The Mother Of Tears (2007).
This movie is about Suzy Bannion, a young aspiring ballerina who begins attending a prestigious dance school in Germany. She becomes suspicious of the real goings on within the school and tries to expose the true nature of some of the key employees.
This movie is a dreamlike interpretation of a tale about witches for grown ups. There are elements of Brothers Grimm here and this is especially evident as we watch a young girl run through a dark forest made of only bare tree trunks to Goblin’s haunting melody.
What makes Suspiria unique is the stunning imagery and exquisite choice of colours. Down to the luxurious designer wallpaper featuring heavily in nearly every shot of this film, not one detail has been left up to chance. Suspiria lifted the bar for the giallo sub-genre of horror and showed once more that Italy is one of the most important contributors to World Cinema.
11. The Evil Dead (1981) – Sam Raimi
The Evil Dead is a true classic that has earned a solid place in cinema history. Shot on a low budget, it captured the eye of some prominent people in the horror business. Although initially lacking commercial popularity in the United States, it has since been a worldwide cult favourite for over twenty years.
Five young people get away to a cabin in the woods over Spring Break. They come across a Sumerian version of the Book Of The Dead and unwittingly unleash a legion of demons onto the forest around them. As the demonic spirits possess the friends one by one, all hell breaks loose in the woods. Bruce Campbell’s chainsaw-wielding Ash has become one of the most iconic horror characters of all time.
The text used in The Evil Dead was a version of the Necronomicon called Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. The myth of the Necronomicon brings us to H.P. Lovecraft. He has claimed on a number of occasions that this text is purely a form of fiction.
Despite this, there have been different imitations and variations of the Necronomicon written by a number of authors and occultist. Some have been taken more seriously than others. It is interesting to note that many followers of the Great Beast Aleister Crowley have believed that there was a psychic connection between Crowley and Lovecraft.
12. Poison For The Fairies (1986) – Carlos Enrique Taboada
This is one of Taboada’s Gothic style horrors and is a terrifying coming-of-age tale. The pseudo-supernatural element is only a tool in an attempt to show the horrors of an alienated childhood.
The orphaned Veronica lives with her disabled housebound grandmother and attends a religious girls’ school. Tales of witches told to her by her grandma fill Veronica’s head and she attempts to convince her peers that she also practices witchcraft. This further distances her from the other girls at school until a new student, Flavia arrives and the two strike up a friendship.
Flavia comes from a wealthy and well-to-do family and is much more naïve than Veronica. The two girls perform black magic “rituals” under the dominant Veronica’s instruction and as the games become more sinister in nature, their power-struggle inevitably comes to a disturbing end.
13. Hellraiser (1987) – Clive Barker
A unique film in many ways, Hellraiser stands apart from its 80s counterparts. Destined to become part of a franchise with some questionable entries, the original Hellraiser film delved deep into the dark corners of the mind and for some of us, stayed there forever. Written and directed by the same man, this movie allows us to get a real glimpse at the nightmarish world of Clive Barker.
Frank’s search for the ultimate thrill leads him to the world of the Cenobites where his soul is trapped. Frightening events unfold as he attempts to rejoin the realm of the living. This is a tale of dark desires and the fluid nature of the boundary between pleasure and pain. The practical special effects of this film enhance the horrific vision of Frank’s transformation.
We can see in Hellraiser an allusion to Barker’s own sexuality and his interest in sadomasochism. Interestingly enough, the terms “sadism” and “masochism” can be attributed to writers whose names and writing are synonymous with each i.e. Marquis De Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Hellraiser universe are the mysterious Cenobites. Traditionally cenobites are practitioners of cenobitic monasticism or simply put, “monkhood”. That would make Barker’s sadistic creatures some sort of order of perverse monks devoid of all empathy and remorse.
14. The Witches (1990) – Nicolas Roeg
A second entry from Nicolas Roeg, this one is a typically clever and twisted Roald Dahl imagining. For those born in a certain era, this is a childhood favourite that would have made a few leave the light on at night.
A young boy, after hearing tales of evil witches who hate children, comes across a real witch convention. Featuring a stunning and incredibly effective Anjelica Houston as the Grand High Witch, this film is complemented by Jim Henson’s wonderful ability of making fairy tales come to life. The Witches features a number of impressive transformations, including the unnerving real witch reveal as well as the cruel turning of a boy into a mouse.
Both Dahl and Henson passed away the same year this movie was released. Dahl was mortified with the film due to the deviation between its ending and the one in the book. It is interesting to note that the book itself has been deemed to promote misogyny and has featured on a number of controversial book lists.
15. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Stanley Kubrick
Eyes Wide Shut is Kubrick’s last film as he died shortly after the first showing of its final cut. Controversial and explicit in nature, some scenes had to be cut in order to maintain an R rating for the movie theatres. The uncut version is now widely available in a variety of formats.
This movie tells the story of Dr. Bill Harford and his wife, Alice living in New York City. After a chance encounter with an old friend from medical school, Bill gets details about a secret party held in a mansion. He attends the ball that turns out to be a mass orgy involving a number of masked and powerful people. Bill becomes paranoid that his life is in danger after his identity is revealed and he is asked to leave the party.
Eyes Wide Shut is based on a 1926 novella Dream Story by Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler. All traces of the Jewish ethnicity of the couple in the book, which is set in Vienna, are non-existent in Kubrick’s feature. Kubrick, who himself is of Jewish heritage specifically wanted the couple to be pedestrian Americans. The homophobic slurs aimed at Bill early in the movie are said to replace the anti-Semitic aggression experienced by the main character in the book.
The idea of the juxtaposition between the persona we project to the world and our secret and true selves is prevalent in Eyes Wide Shut. This is done not only symbolically with the literal use of masks throughout the film but also through Bill’s behaviour and his struggle for identity and status. Venetian masks worn by the attendees of the ball allude to the sexually promiscuous and debauch Venetian society of an earlier time.
Christmas is the backdrop to the story and the only place where there are no signs of it in the film, is at the mansion Bill attends for the secret party. This makes it appear as a godless and unwholesome place intended for the anonymous exploration of dark desires.
16. Dagon (2001) – Stuart Gordon
Based on a novella by the granddaddy of horror fiction himself, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth, Dagon is part of the Cthulhu Mythos. It is said that Lovecraft’s absolute fear of interracial relations and the possibility of resulting offspring had a huge influence on this story. This makes Dagon all the more complex and disturbing.
The events take place in the small Spanish fishing island of Imboca, where the locals have been praying to the fishing god Dagon for centuries. This has brought great prosperity and bountiful catches upon the region but the price has been great. A couple who become stranded on the island due to a sailing accident soon uncover the horrific secrets of this peculiar community.
Dagon is an ancient Semitic fertility god who was represented by grain and often, fish or fishing. There is a loose association between this Dagon and the sea dwelling creature in Lovecraft’s novella.
The Esoteric Order of Dagon is the religion of the people of Innsmouth and they worshipped the Deep Ones who were seen as messengers of the gods as opposed to gods themselves. The film does not delve deeply into this mythology, but background knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos does help with the overall understanding of Dagon but is not necessary in order to enjoy this adaptation.
17. House Of The Devil (2009) – Ti West
Ti West’s third full-length feature was the first to be well received by the critics. It is most certainly a blatant homage to the films of the 70s and 80s with a lot of the techniques used borrowed directly from the era. The similarities are numerous but some of the more prominent ones are the opening credits, cinematography, as well as the music and fashion featuring in this film.
Samantha is a college student who answers a babysitting ad. She is in dire need of money for a deposit on a new place she is renting. When she arrives at the house where she is meant to babysit, the owner explains that the babysitting is in fact for an old woman and not a child. Samantha is hesitant but as the man keeps offering her more and more money, she finds the deal too hard to resist. It becomes apparent that the couple who hire her have far more sinister intentions for Samantha than she originally assumed.
At the very beginning of this film a message states that the plot is based on true events. This is also a very common technique prevalent in the horror films of 70s and 80s. Although no specific true story is attributed to the events unfolding in House Of The Devil, it is a clear nod to the Satanic Panic.
It all began in the early 70s with the publication of some books on Satanism by people claiming to be experts on it. Despite all these books eventually being confirmed as fraudulent, the phenomenon became widespread within the fundamentalist Christian communities by the beginning of the 80s.
Rock and heavy metal music was thought to contain satanic messages and the teenagers who listened to it were often accused of devil worship and witchcraft. Some, like the ill-fated Memphis Three were even tried for and convicted of terrible crimes with little to no solid evidence.
Messages about satanic ritual abuse and world politics ruled by Satanists and the Illuminati were spread throughout communities by fanatical Christian leaders. Some members of their congregations were professionals in the police force, doctors, therapists, and parents. These people became self-styled “experts” on the subject and took it upon themselves to conduct investigations using techniques that have since been discredited. This moral panic declined by mid to late 1990s and was replaced with scepticism.
House Of The Devil successfully pays a loving tribute to the films that spawned as a direct reflection of this mass hysteria.
18. Kill List (2011) – Ben Wheatley
This film has the tendency to stick around long after watching as you feverishly try to remember all the tiny details you may have missed. It is a somber look at the realities of married life and the effects of post-war trauma. In parts, Kill List requires patience but this pays off, as the insight into the intense relationships between the characters is an essential part of this movie.
Jay and Shel are a couple, both of whom have served time in the military. One or possibly both of them have seen combat. Their marriage is troubled and the couple seem volatile together. Jay and his army buddy Gal are hired killers who have a mission to complete. As they go through their list of targets one by one, this job turns out to be more than they bargained for.
Wheatley was in part influenced by H.P. Lovecraft while writing this script. It wasn’t so much a matter of being directly inspired by any of his specific stories, but more a general feeling of unease and fear that he wanted to convey. He was impressed with Stanley Kubrick’s preoccupation with imagery and minimal concern for plot elements and got the actors to improvise the majority of the scenes as well as work out their own backstories to the characters.
The symbol for the cult was made up by Wheatley himself and he did not pick up on similarities to the one in The Blair Witch Project until after the movie’s release. His aim for this film was not to hand the viewer the plot and interpretation on a silver platter, but instead to leave a degree of mystery and let imaginations fill in the blanks.
19. The Conspiracy (2012) – Christopher McBride
The Conspiracy plays out like a documentary but could also be considered a found-footage film. This is McBride’s first full-length feature and was largely received favourably by critics and audiences alike.
Two young filmmakers, Aaron and Jim, set out to make a movie about “Terrance G”, a conspiracy theorist whom they first came across on YouTube. While the documentary is being filmed, Terrance mysteriously disappears and the guys decide to continue his research into secret government organisations.
This leads them to an exclusive non-governmental group called the Tarsus Club who seem to always have gatherings right before major world events. After finding someone who can help them infiltrate the club, Aaron and Jim decide to film one of their secret meetings.
This movie touches on many aspects of the conspiracy counter-culture. Although the Tarsus Club itself is a fictional organisation, it is very loosely based on the Mithraic Mysteries religion practiced in the Roman Empire in the early centuries AD. It involved a complicated initiation system and secret rituals. Although it is not entirely clear due to little surviving documentation of the society’s activities, it is very likely that this cult was for men only.
The idea of a New World Order is of course interspersed through this film. Before 1990s, the NWO conspiracies were reserved for right-wing militias paranoid about being controlled by the government and fundamentalist Christians concerned with the birth of the Antichrist. The ideas eventually trickled down into popular culture and by the 2000s, most of us had knowledge of at least some of them.
After the two World Wars, there were talks of an international organisation that could deal with countries’ problems if they were too difficult to deal with internally. Between 1947 – 1957, a Canadian conspiracy theorist named William Guy Carr propagated fears about Freemasons, Illuminati, and the Jews in an “international communist conspiracy” that wants to rule the world.
When the USSR split and the Red Menace scare was over, the attention shifted to corporate bodies instead. From the middle of 1990s the NWO idea spread to a number of other conspiracies, including Satanic cults and occultism.
20. Starry Eyes (2014) – Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer
Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, this movie quickly gained traction upon its release. Hailed as a cult favourite and receiving a number of positive reviews, Starry Eyes is an original and exciting new addition to the horror genre. Like many of its contemporaries, this movie boasts an impressive soundtrack that enhances the overall experience.
Sarah is an aspiring actress slaving away as a waitress whilst trying to start a Hollywood career. After some failed attempts at securing roles through auditions, she attends one for Astraeus Pictures. The team demands she shows some real emotion and after a spectacular display, she manages to get a callback. Sarah is hesitant to give in to the full demands of Astraeus and when she does, a terrifying transformation begins to take place.
Occult signs and symbols can be seen all throughout this movie. When Sarah initially attends the Astraeus audition, a symbol similar to the one used by Aleister Crowley’s cult Thelema can be seen on a coffee cup. During her second audition, someone is wearing a pentagram pendant. While the closing credits are rolling, a number of Goetic symbols are visible. Goetia is the belief in and practice of invoking a variety of different angels and demons by using specifically assigned sigils.
The idea that the crème de la crème of the entertainment industry are a secret occult society who perform Satanic rituals using drugs and sex is not a new one.
Its roots are planted deep within the corporate domination/New World Order conspiracy theories. It is not hard to see how tales of the incredibly competitive world of Hollywood can easily be turned into ones involving sex orgies and devil worship. The reality is that the journey towards stardom can be humiliating and disturbing even without the involvement of black magic.
Author Bio: Bela is a self-professed film nerd with a hankering for the macabre. she lives in New Zealand and spends far more time with her cat than she does with people.