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Chemical Wedding


Stars: Simon Callow, Lucy Cudden, Kal Weber, Jud Charlton, John Shrapnel

Director: Julian Doyle

The spirit of the racier British horror film of the seventies lives in this dark dose of mumbo-jumbo, in which Callow plays (badly) a stammering university professor, and (much better) the spirit of Aleister Crowley, an occultist who was supposedly 'the most evil man on earth' when he died in 1947. The spirit possesses the prof when he unwisely steps into what looks like a diving suit, hooked up to a giant computer designed to study the complexities of the human brain.

In no time at all, 'Professor' Crowley has enslaved the computer's tame genius Victor (Charlton having fun with the Renfield/hunchback character) and drawn in further disciples - one of whom complains 'but I've come all the way from Glastonbury' - although these retreat to the substitutes' bench for the rest of Crowley's debauched sexual odyssey in pursuit of far-from-virginal student Lea (Cudden), who has lost no time in bedding down with visiting American academic Mathers (Weber).

'The 12 apostles,' exclaims a drugged-to-the-eyeballs Crowley, 'will announce my resurrection. I must await the scarlet bride.' Meanwhile, faithful lapdog Victor is promised that 'you will be the only witness to the secrets of history since the Sphinx aligned with Leo.' Some hope.

This is high-flying, giddy gibberish, wallowing in blood, bodies and its own ludicrousness. The end has something to do with characters landing up in parallel worlds, but the details escaped me and you'd probably have to bring back the spirit of Aleister Crowley to explain it all.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Warner Music Entertainment. Colour.
106 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 26 May 2008