This director has been creating experimental short films since 1937 when he filmed his first short. He focuses his film subjects on the occult, LGBTQ issues in mid-century America and the practice of Thelema. He uses camera tricks, sound design and location shots to convey emotion in his stories. The occult symbols, amulets, sigils and statues direct the stories in his films. His producing company is called “Magick Lantern Cycle” a name based on one of his former films.
These films have no dialogue but a musical score that dictates the progression of the story. The music is usually pop culture based unless created for the short film specifically.
Lucifer Rising (completed 1972; released 1980)
Possibly the more occultist film the filmmaker made that features a lot of rock-and-roll and Thelema influences. It is also the more popular film he made that has a cult following and critical response. The 29-minute film short is about Egyptian gods summoning Lucifer to usher in the new occult modern age. The film took time to make being in early development in 1966-67, produced in 1968-72, then the music soundtrack was added in 1979-80. A lot of scenes were cut out and repurposed in Invocation of my Demon Brother.
The scrolling camera in one scene showed the progression of time effectively to the new dawn. It also has a well-known cast of performers popular within the late 60s rock scene, like Jimmy Page and Marianne Faithful. The electric guitar-based music is very gothic and early heavy metal by Bobby Beausoleil. It’s mostly instrumental and harmonious. In an age of excessive green screens for the most mundane of scenes in films, it’s nice to see characters shot on location. Even with film editing and some impressive special effects that show the film’s idea of the devil.
Rabbit’s Moon (released in 1971 and 1979)
A clown, Perriot, is in love with the moon because he believes a mythical rabbit lives there. But Harlequin, his friend tries tricking him with a magical lantern to entice him with Columbine, a ballerina dancer clown. The film was originally in black-and-white then toned with blue light filters. It was filmed in France on a closed set. The short film is about trying to attain the unattainable, like the moon. It was filmed in 1950 with a runtime of 16 minutes when it was released in 1971 then re-edited to 7 minutes in 1979 with a shortened soundtrack and sped-up frame rate. It’s the only semi-PG-rated short film from his filmography.
Eaux d’Artifice (1953)
This film is very abstract. It was filmed in black-and-white using the red filter which makes things look darker than it is shown under then toned with dark blue tones. This film was inducted into the American National Film Registry for cultural achievement. It is also one of the filmmaker’s least occult-themed shorts. A woman in an 18th-century dress with a feathered hat fanning herself with a feathered fan. She wanders around a garden with wildly spritzing water at a large water garden. She repeatedly walks around fountains with man-faced faucets at the garden’s fountain watcher in the garden space. The water becomes more vivid when the music becomes more violin-centric. She steps into the fountain and disappears becoming one with the water. It’s an okay film that mostly shoots flowing water with engrossing compositions. The 12-minute short film is supposed to express pleasure and freedom. The title is a play on words from his 1940s short film Fireworks (Feux d’artifice.)
The Inauguration Of The Pleasure Dome (1954)
This film is inspired by a Halloween party hosted by one of the actors featured in the film. The guests were told to “come as your madness.” The name “pleasure dome” comes from the 1816 poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coolidge. The film is 38 minutes of avant-garde mythological-inspired mid-century performances. There’s some exploration of Thelema imagery, Hindu god imagery and The Scarlet Woman as character costumes background designs and symbols that flash on the screen. The film has bold colours in front of a mostly black background. The film concept is a ritual masquerade party where attendees dress as gods and goddesses. There are some costumes in this that are just confusing and weird but they make sense for the story being told.