Cinematic Pleasures.

What follows here is a list of my all time favourite movies. They're not, however, listed in any order of preference. All of them are essential viewing, in my mind. Most of them are available on VHS, Laser or DVD and I strongly recommend that you check them out! Your life may not depend on viewing these films, but your development into a weirder being certainly does!

(Robert Fuest, UK, 1971)
An aristocratic loner lives a solitary life with a beautiful aide-de-camp and a musical band of "Clockwork Wizards". His mind is all set on revenge on the doctors he claims are responsible for the death of his wife. Truly stunning sets, eerie atmospheres and a healthy mix of kitsch and true horror. Vincent Price as Dr. Phibes is astonishing, distant and dangerous. The role model for Doctor Anton Phibes was none other than famous Satanist Dr. Anton Szandor LaVey, a good friend of director Fuest's.

(Conrad Rooks, US, 1966)
Director Rooks recalls his own processes of drug addiction, alcoholism and supposed beneficial treatments and cures. But not in an ordinary narrative. The film is beautifully shot by Robert Frank and edited together in a psychedelic jamboree unparalleled to this day. Features wonderful music by Ravi Shankar and a cast of a virtual who's who of the post-beat psychedelic era: William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, The Fugs, Ornette Coleman and many others.

(Robert Fuest, UK, 1972)
The sequel shows Dr. Phibes continued quest to avenge the untimely death of his wife. This time most of it is set in Egypt, where Dr. Phibes - and others - are looking for the Elixir of Life within weird caves and pyramids. Vincent Price excels even himself in this one.

(Hans Richter, US, 1946)
A cinematic reverie-explosion of the finest brand, assembled of dream sequences designed by Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Fernand Leger and Alexander Calder. At the same time it's a bizarre story of a detective gone psychologist gone dreamseller, possibly gone mad.... A rare gem of a film which cemented the already god-like status of the contributors.

(Henry Koster, USA, 1950)
Jimmy Stewart, always brilliant, as a smalltown oddball who's achieved the konowledge of, and conversation with, his Holy Guardian Angel, a giant invisible rabbit! Very funny things happen, as his conservative environment don't quite get it and don't seem to approve of his "childish" behaviour... Somehow rings a bell in our own reality too, right? An excellent screwball classic. The rabbit should have received an Oscar.

(Alejandro Jodorowsky, US/Mexico, 1973)
The story of planetary representatives getting together to fulfil the quest of conquering the Holy Mountain of the Rosicrucians. Packed with esoteric symbolism and filtered through an absolutely brilliant script, this film is a milestone in the history of experimental, symbolilistic and esoteric cinema.

(Kenneth Anger, US/UK, 1980)
Cinematic Magus Anger's masterpiece. Filmed in Germany, England, Egypt and many other places, it poetically tells the story of the awakening of Horus and the advent of a new age. Steeped in Thelemic symbolism and a vibrant sense of devotion to the Prophet Aleister Crowley, this film is actually more of a spiritual journey, an actual initiation for the viewer, than just a "groovy" film.

(Ray Laurent, US, 1969)
Documentary on the first phase of the eclectic group The Church of Satan in San Francisco. Features interviews with its founder and leader Anton Szandor LaVey and many members of the congregation. Also many fascinating scenes of ritual, complete with nude women on the altar, snakes and eerie organ music.

(Conrad Rooks, US/India, 1972)
A pretty straight account of the life of Siddharta (according to Herman Hesse), roaming through the magical landscape of India as well as roaming through various philosophies and religious speculations. This is a delightfully beautiful film, shot by Swedish ace cinematographer Sven Nyqvist. Strangely enough, this rather slowpaced film was a success on the Indian market.

(Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1997)
Should rather have been called "Naked Lunch 2", as it's an orgy in Burroughsian symbolism. Cartoonish heroes and heroines combat giant bugs in a future world of "civilians" vs true "citizens". Great special FX, outlandish performances and plasti-casting of the finest kind. Heinlein meets Burroughs meets EC Comics. A killer combination!

(Alejandro Jodorowsky, US/Mexico, 1971)
The violent tale of a man who's forced to confront his destiny. A weird mix between a psychedelic Western and an initiatory account of a full fledged Magical Sage. As with most of Jodorowsky's work, very rich in symbolism and utter absurdity.

(Mel Stuart, US, 1971)
Gene Wilder as Master Magician Willy Wonka brings extra humour and wit to an already perfect film. This is the ultimate viewing for anyone interested in Qabalah and Western esotericism. Protagonist Charlie wins the prize in the end thanks to his pure and golden heart. But before this happens, we see him on a troublesome ritual quest worthy of the Knights Templars. One by one his adversaries are forced to step down, owing to their various individual weaknesses. Almost like the plot of "Seven", but this one has a decidedly nicer and more colourful setting!

(Benjamin Christensen, Denmark/Sweden, 1922)
An amazing film about historical and "contemporary" witchcraft. Stunning cinematography and loads of special effects, this movie still keeps viewers baffled. Ritual scenes, mass hysteria where witches kiss the ass of some strange Devil, flights on broomsticks, horny nuns and modern-day hallucinating hysterics... This movie has everything one could ever wish for! And it's from 1922! The film experienced a minor resurgence in the 60's, with a narrative by William Burroughs and frantic music by Jean-Luc Ponty.

(Victor Fleming, US, 1939)
No motivation really needed. A precious jewel among magical films. Almost qualifies on the same grounds as those of Willy Wonka. Judy Garland masterfully portrays a humble and purehearted soul who travels on the astral together with her familiar, the dog Toto. In order to proceed on her path, she needs to integrate and equilibrate the four powers of the Sphinx: Knowledge, Courage, Will and Silence. And on that trip, many strange things happen. Noteable is that director Fleming also directed "Gone with the Wind". The very same year!

All material is copyright © 1999 Carl Abrahamsson, if nothing else is stated.

[Back to the old homestead!]