Chemical Wedding

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Review byMatthew Turner28/05/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Something of a mixed bag, this is a wildly over-the-top concoction that delivers some increasingly bonkers thrills but is let down by some dodgy acting and its low-budget limitations.

What's it all about?
Simon Callow stars as Doctor Oliver Haddo, a Cambridge classics lecturer who becomes the reincarnation of legendary dark arts master Aleister Crowley, thanks to the combination of a colleague's (Jud Charlton) attempts to digitise Crowley's essence and the timely arrival of a state-of-the-art Virtual Reality suit, brought over by visiting American professor Dr Joshua Mathers (Kal Weber).

With the possessed Haddo wreaking havoc on campus (e.g. conducting orgies in his office and urinating on students during a lecture), Mathers teams up with an attractive red-headed journalist (Lucy Cudden) and an ageing headmaster (Paul McDowell) who actually knew Crowley. The trio tries to reverse the process before Haddo can perform Crowley's most powerful rite (the titular Chemical Wedding) and call forth an astral Moonchild (don't ask).

The Good
Director Julian Doyle and co-writer Bruce Dickenson (of Iron Maiden fame) go for broke with an increasingly bonkers script that has clearly been a well-researched labour of love for all concerned. Similarly, Callow really throws himself into the role, savouring every line and delivering a bellowing, balls-to-the-wall performance that would put even Brian Blessed to shame.

The Bad
That said, Doyle's direction is badly paced and the plot is all over the place, although it does pull together for a suitably mind-bending finale. Similarly, the film is hamstrung by its painfully obvious budget limitations, with the result that the dark magic effects are a bit rubbish and the film frequently looks like a cheap TV production. In addition, though Callow is great fun to watch, some of the other actors are decidedly dodgy, particularly McDowell, who delivers every line in a dull monotone.

Worth seeing?
In short, Chemical Wedding is a largely nonsensical, frequently messy mixture of Satanic mumbo jumbo, bad acting and uneven direction, though it does deliver a few cheap, trashy thrills and is worth seeing for Callow’s performance.

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Chemical Wedding
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Content updated: 20/10/2019 22:53

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