The Cult of Anti-Cult Cultists

I’m a movieholic. I’ve been one for a long time. I don’t plan to recover.

This addiction demands that I engage in a weekly ritual of searching new movie releases on the various streaming services.

Lately I’ve been seeing listings for a disproportionate number of movies about cults. It seems to be a fad.

Movies like The Cult of the Satanic Fang Lickers, The Church of the Gooey Death, The Saviors of the Deep Purple Robe and Blood Scarf and The Thrall of the Linoleum Throne Death Cult.

[Note to the curious reader: These are all made-up titles inspired by actual titles. I don’t want to publicize the actual movies because A) they don’t deserve publicity, and B) if you were to see one you might sustain a loss of consciousness and the destruction of millions of innocent brain cells.]

(Photo credit - Quora)

These movies have several traits in common:

  • They are ridiculous. I know this because as a matter of unselfish research I watched the trailers, during which my IQ dropped temporarily (thank God only temporarily) to 65. I made this sacrifice for you, dear reader, so you won’t have to experience the pain.
  • They are scary—or at least try to be. Not only do they try to be scary, but they seem to go out of their way to make the whole world look scary.
  • They seem to be single-mindedly designed to instill in the viewer the feeling that all hope is lost—or to put it another way: we’re all doomed.

The power of these last two points is vastly diminished by the first, but not entirely diminished. These filmmakers want to make the world seem like a dangerous place filled with evil people preying on us all.

Wow. Now there’s an ambition.

Why? And why so many of these insults to the art of filmmaking now?

Because, and I repeat: These filmmakers want to make the world seem like a dangerous scary place filled with evil people preying on us all and it’s well known that some people will pay good money to get scared, and right now there is a rush of media attempts to make anything that seems religious look bad so it’s time to make hate while the sun shines.

“Cults” are easy pickin’s because a good working definition of cult to the average person is “any group with beliefs and practices different from mine.”

In other words, people who “think different” are cultists and we should all be warned about them before we get sucked up in some infinite vortex or something.


Apple Museum Prague

But what about thinking different? Back in the 80s and 90s, people who used Macintosh computers—myself included—were considered odd, as were the computers themselves. Mac users were considered a cult. As a result, Mac sales were dismal. To boost sales in 1997, Steve Jobs launched an ad campaign called “Think Different.” The message was simple and brilliant: being a “crazy one” is a rare benefit. The campaign marked the beginning of a turnaround for Apple and a steady climb to what it is now.

And they did anything but scare. They intended to inspire and they did.

Thing is, any of the people shown in the ad—Einstein, Dylan, Ali, Chaplin, King, Branson, Lennon, Hitchcock, Gandhi, and the rest—could have been seen, and in some cases were seen, as cult leaders. They were all “dangerous” to the status quo and they all had followings. Some of those followings measured in the millions.

And they did anything but scare. They intended to inspire and they did.

But these fad filmmakers intend to make us afraid by saying that “cults” are bad. Honestly, I don’t know—maybe some are. I haven’t experienced everything in the world and without closer individual inspection I really couldn’t say. But first I’d have to have a better definition of “cult” and a clear list of criteria of what, exactly, comprises “bad.” And if “bad” turns out to be “different,” I’m afraid that definition won’t make it through my BS strainer. (BS = Bogus Substance).

But I will say this based on the evidence I have seen: These filmmakers themselves seem to be a cult: The Cult of Anti-Cult Cultists Who Thrive on Fear.

So I say to hell with them. If I want to get scared, I’ll go for Hitchcock.

Michael Scandling
Fine-art photographer, writer, counselor-at-large, chef, dog lover, nature lover. Not particularly reverent.