SUICIDE CULT (1975)
aka The Astrologer
Article 4721 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by James Glickenhaus
Featuring Bob Byrd, Monica Tidwell, Mark Buntzman
What it is: Bizarre metaphysical science fiction horror
A brilliant scientist has engineered an enhanced form of astrology, and he creates an organization called Interzod to watch over and control those with powerful zodiacal potential. He becomes obsessed with the second coming and believes he has found a woman with the same zodiacal potential as that of the Virgin Mary… but he also may have encountered a man whose potential for evil may be too strong for his control…
James Glickenhaus is best known as an action director, but this is the only movie of his that I’ve seen. Those who are familiar with his work might be the ones most likely to have picked up copies of this obscure movie that marks his directorial debut, probably expecting an action flick of some sort, especially under the main title above. And if you consider that the movie had taglines like “He’s the gypsy king of the carnival men! To be famous, he lies, cheats, steals, even sometimes kills!”, you can’t blame them. Instead, what they encounter is a talky, cerebral, confusing, fragmented tale that roughly follows two separate plotlines until they come together in the last scene of the movie. Oh, there’s some action and sex, but hardly enough to satisfy fans of that sort of thing. I suspect that this movie’s weak rating of 4.5 on IMDB comes from disappointed fans. Since I went into it without any preconceptions, I liked it a bit better than some of them, but even I have to admit that the movie has some major problems. The direction is not particularly good, though part of the problem there may be the very low budget of the movie. The worst problem is that it feels incomplete; plot points seem to be missing, certain actions and characters are never adequately explained, and it ends at a point where you wish the movie would follow through on everything it’s been leading up to rather than leaving us hanging. It’s apparently adapted from a novel by James Cameron, though not the film director of the same name, and I suspect the novel fills in the missing pieces. Still, I found the movie to be offbeat and it had some interesting ideas.