Two television movies today. Both are obscure. Both are are disturbing as hell. Neither were released in the seventies.
That’s kind of an anomaly for me, but I figure that just as I comb through the 70s and the 60s fishing for long forgotten treasures, younger folks are hunting the internetz for long lost gems that I, by chance, remember well. It’s our duty to help them out. Soon they will have all “discovered” Twin Peaks and then what will they do…? We need to be there waiting.
Do you remember the Heaven’s Gate cult? They committed mass suicide in 1997 because they believed a flying saucer trailing the Hale-Bopp comet would latch onto their spiritual bodies and take them to new and exciting places. I remember it well as I was in the midst of psychedelic inspired paranoia at the time and was regularly witnessing aliens in my living room. I felt as if I had direct connections with the cult because I had previously stumbled across their website in my internet searches for hidden star gates to Earth II (rumored to be in Northern New York). That was back when the internet had lots of secret tunnels for kids into magick and Robert Anton Wilson. A “search” for such arcane topics used to involve a bit more know-how and intuitive digging before Google was cracked from the golden egg. Truth be told, I’m lucky I didn’t end up in a Montauk double wide receiving “deprogramming” from a drooling overweight pedophile, but that’s another story. The big whammy with Heaven’s Gate is that they had sent a videotape to a professor at my college, Western Michigan University, shortly before they castrated themselves and waived goodbye. This seemed of the utmost significance to me at the time and was just one of many rabbits in my personal trip to Wonderland.
MYSTERIOUS TWO is a television movie that was made about the Heaven’s Gate cult years before their big finale, and it’s amazing that they hadn’t changed their M.O. in all that time. I mean they were GOOD at messing with people’s heads. They had it down to a science. The genius of the movie MYSTERIOUS TWO is that it doesn’t present itself as an expose or an endorsement. It shows them for what they were (cult leaders with a capital cray cray), but it also suggests that there might be something bigger behind the scenes of their “movement”; something more malevolent and “transcendental” than just the crazy manipulation of sick people. There are a lot of great films about creepy cults, but MYSTERIOUS TWO gets under the skin in a particularly uncommon way. At times you wonder if they were actually involved in the production. After it was shown on television the leaders of the Heaven’s Gate cult started referring to themselves as the “Mysterious Two”, incorporating the movie into their own mythology so that, in a way, you can consider it an unintentional recruitment video. Don’t blame me if, after watching, you castrate yourself, make bad fashion choices, and commit suicide. Any one of these things is understandable, of course, but put all three together and I would immediately unfriend you on Facebook. I highly recommend the movie, but I do not condone bad fashion choices (except when I make them).
I watched KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN when it came out. I caught the commercials the week before and something about the imagery, the lighting, and the manner in which the character’s were dressed reminded me of my childhood in a very disturbing way. I watched hoping for something nostalgic and creepy. My expectations were met and then some. KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN is one of the most disturbing films ever made for television, as well as one of the most brutally violent. If you’re going to get picky, neither MYSTERIOUS TWO or KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN would be considered “horror” in the traditional sense, but KILLING is nonetheless one of the most horrifying films I’ve seem. Barbara Hershey deserved the Emmy she received for this film (…it’s the only Emmy Award show I ever watched and I watched it just to make sure she won). She pulls off the most amazing, bone chilling, therapy session this side of SYBIL. I cried, I was struck dumb, and I would remember it forever.
But then it was gone. No one I knew had seen it. It took years before I found a bad videotaped version in Kalamazoo, so it certainly DID get a wider release on videotape at some point, but there’s been no word of mouth…no “cult” developed. I believe that should change (…as long as it doesn’t lead to suicide).
Oh, yah, the plot. I always hate describing plots. You can read IMDB if you want. Just imagine your mom doing horrible things to the neighbor. That’s about all I wanna say about it.
MYSTERIOUS TWO (1982)
A KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN (1990)
The complete version of the film is in 3 sections on Youtube, but I’ve created a playlist so you can watch it in one go: