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Chemical Wedding Review

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A shy, stuttering professor inadvertantly brings Aleister Crowley back to life.

★★★★★

Cambridge professor Oliver Haddo (Simon Callow) subverts a virtual reality/sensory deprivation/chaos theory experiment and is possessed by occultist Aleister Crowley. Haddo shaves his head, pisses off faculty (and pisses on students) during a lecture, gets a purple suit, crucifies prostitutes and plots a ritual to inaugurate an age of evil. The real-life Crowley inspired characters in novels by Somerset Maugham, Anthony Powell, Dennis Wheatley, Ian Fleming and Will Self, but movies have stayed away from the soi-disant ‘wickedest man in the world’. Callow’s entertaining turn suggests he deserves a proper biopic to follow this barmy, arcane enterprise, which is as often silly as it is spooky (to be fair, so was Crowley). Fans of co-writer/Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson will be delighted at the use of a cracking George Formby track as Crowley’s theme.

Despite Callow's entertaining turn, this is often as silly as it is spooky.