You can go anywhere and find a list of scary movies to watch. But when you’re dealing with the occult, the scope narrows considerably. It’s not just Japanese water ghost girls who desperately need conditioner jumping out from closets; it’s something far darker than that. It’s about the things that go on behind closed doors, with no fucks given about the Three-Fold Law.
If you’re looking for movies about the occult, here are seven of the best.
There are lots of reasons why Rosemary’s Baby belongs on this list, not the least of which is that almost fifty years since its release, it works. It’s creepy as all get out, from the eerie sing-song theme to the ending, which causes more conflicting feelings than being at a Sadie Hawkins Dance. But the core of the horror in Rosemary’s Baby is the fact that she thinks she’s surrounded by people who want to do something terrible, and she’s right. Evil people are everywhere, and they’re not all young, beautiful, and sport a good-looking cloak. They’re your neighbors, your friends, maybe even your spouse. Unless you surrounded yourself with people like that intentionally, in which case, Rosemary’s Baby is your best-case scenario.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN
This movie is deliciously and unrepentantly silly, with its plotline concerning the attainment of eternal youth, but it’s also one of the best examples of Satanic cinema from the 1970’s. The powers of Hell are tremendous in this film, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic high priest than Strother Martin. He is mockingly Pentecostal in his litanies and mewlingly pathetic in his approach to the Dark Lord. Half anti-Christ, half Grima Wormtongue, his performance is unforgettable.
I’m not sure I could verbally elucidate what’s going on in Kenneth Anger’s short film, as it moves from present day to ancient Egypt and all points in between, but it’s a visually powerful film with a strong undercurrent of strangeness and unease. There’s also a lot of majesty and beauty here. It’s kind of awe-inspiring, really. Also: LUCIFER. Rising. From something.
THE WICKER MAN (1973)
Let’s clarify right now. No, not the Nic Cage version. I don’t even hate that movie, but it isn’t an occult film. It is a battle of the sexes film. The original, though, may be the single greatest occult film ever made. A Christian police officer is thrust into the heaving bosom of a Pagan community, which turns his world upside down. Who is the bad guy here? Your reaction to the ending, either muted horror or hysterical laughter, will say a lot about your spiritual leanings. I think it’s hilarious, and that’s all you need to know about me.
SIMON, KING OF THE WITCHES
LA in the 1970s was a hotbed of occult activity. This movie, starring a hotter-than-balls Andrew Prine, captures the vibe of that scene and seems to be pretty accurate. A lot of the rituals depicted are true to tone and language. There’s no sense of mocking, and it’s one of those movies that reminds the casual viewer that witchcraft, in capable hands, can fuck a cowan up.
I may be a little biased because this is my all-time favorite movie, but I’m still objective enough to say you need to see this movie because, holy crap, it’s amazing. It may seem like the movie adaptation of Warren Zevon’s album, Bad Luck Streak at Dancing School, but it’s so much more. This is a movie about witches and curses and the beginning of one of the greatest coven stories ever put to the celluloid. It’s a fairy-tale nightmare, fraught with bright colors and brutality. If you’ve never seen it, watch it as soon as you can. I cannot recommend any movie more highly.
All right, you LaVeyan Satanists. You’ve read the Satanic Bible. You quote the tenets. You’ve made the Anton-as-Dos-Equis-dude memes. But have you ever seen the man in action? This documentary, filmed in that classic Italian “mondo” style, shows the Church of Satan in its heyday. There’s even a Satanic wedding! Featuring occult activities from around the world, Witchcraft ’70 serves as little more than a curiosity now, but is still essential viewing for anyone who really wants to understand occult history.
Are these movies scary? Well, that’s up to you. But they are all, in their own way, fascinating. They all give some insight about what goes on in the occult, even if they tend to embellish a little. You might not come away from these films frightened, but you will come away enlightened and a little curious.