I hope you all know who Bruce Dickinson is – if not, he is the powerhouse vocalist behind the heavy metal behemoth Iron Maiden. Well he wrote the story of this movie and co-wrote the screenplay. And I hope you know of Alistair Crowley, the famous English occultist, mystic & ceremonial magician. Directed by Julian Doyle, Chemical Wedding is a British supernatural and horror movie with a touch of science fiction in it.
We start off with 2 young men who in 1947 go to see a terminally ill Crowley (John Shrapnel) at his home. Crowley dies but not before cursing one of the boys who tried to take his precious pocket watch away from him. As a result the young man loses his voice and is paralyzed from the waist down. 50 years later we are at Cambridge University, the venue of a VR machine & suit which is part of an experiment conducted by a visiting American professor Dr. Joshua Mathers (Kal Weber). A meek & stuttering professor Oliver Haddo (Simon Callow) & his assistant Victor, who are both followers of Crowley, upload all of the late occultist’s works & rituals into the computer that runs the VR suit/machine.
Prof. Haddo steps into the suit and the information is all uploaded into his brain, causing him to somehow be possessed by the immortal spirit of Crowley. This transform the shaggy haired Haddo into a cocky, confident & powerful man with a smooth, shaved head and a hypnotic glare. He steals a natty suit, walks around with a cane and has lots of sex, performs some rituals and kills a few people. He also needs to perform a “chemical wedding”, a ritual ceremony that involves him having sex with a scarlet hair woman, in 3 days to complete his reincarnation. After a few that don’t measure up, he settles on a university student Lia Robinson.
In between there is some nudity, even a somewhat hilarious scene in which Haddo/Crowley lathers and shaves the pubic hair of a call girl who is blond but wears a red wig before brutally killing her. Prof. Mathers & Lia are involved with each other after she wanted a quick interview with him for the university paper and he has to save her before Haddo can complete the ceremony. As he is successful, the timeline reverses itself to just after Prof. Haddo has used the suit and he is back to his bumbling & stammering self with the spirit of Alistair Crowley no longer alive in him. No one remembers what has happened except for Symmonds (Paul McDowell) who was one of the young men who went to see Crowley at the time of his death and is a professor at Cambridge who helps Mathers. Everything goes back to normal.
With the exceptional & brilliant acting of Simon Callow there isn’t much to offer in this movie. Granted that the photography is done really well but that’s about it. I’d give it a 6 out of 10 (or a 666 out of 100)!