Bad but Not Evil: False Prophets & B-Movies

Little Marjoe Gortner was born to preach.

“Howdy, neighbors! May the Lord bless you.”

But, then again, he really had no choice.

Marjoe’s mother & coach

Born in 1944 to a family of ministers, the pulpit was all he ever knew; all he was ever allowed to know. But there’s no denying he was good at it.

He toured the country. He wowed audiences. He even performed a marriage at the age of four.

He was a star.

However, the novelty of the ‘Kid Preacher’ soon waned and he left the ministry in his teens.

Yet, as the reality of adult life set in, Marjoe returned to what he knew best: preachin’.

However, the plain truth was this: Marjoe didn’t believe a word of it. In fact, he never had. God’s Word was a means to an end and nothing more.

The way he saw it, he was simply very good at his job.

“It’s the charisma of the evangelist that the audience believes in…”

Marjoe Gortner,
fake preacher

Marjoe’s ability to preach served him well over the years. But the hypocrisy was getting to him. And in the 1973 documentary, Marjoe, he revealed himself to be the fraud he was.

Chaos Magic says that belief is a tool. In a chaotic world, void of inherent meaning, reality becomes subjective. It’s how we choose to see it that decides what we stand to gain from it.

“Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted”

Chaos Magic axiom

And in some way, Marjoe knew this.

He chose to see his preaching as a job, a performance. His congregation chose to see it as the Holy Spirit manifest. And both were right, at least as far as they saw it.

But after the documentary, Marjoe had a new job: actin’.

Largely relegated to B-grade genre schlock, one film in particular stands out.

Released in 1983, Mausoleum not only showcased his acting skills, it also presented a twisted version of his own life story.

But rather than the Holy Spirit using a young boy, this was the story of the Devil using a young girl.

The film begins in a graveyard. After her mother’s funeral, Susan Nomed is drawn to the family mausoleum by a malevolent force.

Inside the fog-laden stone structure, she meets a shadowy figure. As he beckons to her, she steps closer. Her eyes glow green as ten-year-old Susan is embodied with evil.

Thirty years later, Susan is happily married. Her husband, Oliver – played by the one-and-only Marjoe Gortner – has provided a loving home.

Though Susan seems happy & well adjusted, the anniversary of her mother’s death brings with it a change.

Unbeknownst to the her, the demon has awoken. And it’s hungry for the blood of men.

Using Susan’s sex appeal, the demon preys upon lascivious male characters; men unwilling to control their urges and only too happy to oblige this comely house-wife.

One by one they meet a violent end.

However, no one suspects her of the murders. Even Susan herself recalls them as nothing more than bad dreams.

But a hypnosis session with her therapist Dr. Simon Andrews reveals Susan’s secret.

Confronted with the supernatural, Dr. Andrews sees exorcism as Susan’s only hope. However, the demon has one more victim to slay.

At home, Susan draws a bath. When Oliver returns from work, he finds her soaking. He’d soon wish he hadn’t.

Poor Marjoe

The film ends as one might expect. Dr. Andrews comes to the rescue. It may be too late for Oliver, but Susan’s soul can still be saved.

He performs an exorcism and the demon is cast out. Without its host the demon returns to the mausoleum, its gateway to the Abyss.

But, for our purposes, the story doesn’t end there.

Mausoleum is more than just a B-movie. But we must choose to see it that way.

In demonology, a succubus is a demon that takes on female form in order to seduce men and drain them of their lifeforce. This hunger for men is its nature, not its decision.

If we choose to believe this, Susan was simply at the will of the demon within. She had no agency; she was merely possessed.

But there is one succubus that transcends its form. Her name is Lilith.

Lilith was Adam’s first wife in the Garden of Eden. She was made from the earth, just as he. Because of this, she refused to submit to her husband and fled Paradise.

Not even God could track her down. She was relegated to the realm of the Fallen Angels; the demons.

artwork by Le Grèbe, ca. 2016

In modern times, Lilith has taken on new meaning. She has come to represent sexual liberation and individual rebellion.

By choosing to believe this we see that Susan was, in actuality, liberating herself. Her sexuality was hers to wield, as she see fit.

By using belief as the tool it is, we can reshape our world, inside and out. A change in perspective can reveal hidden knowledge in the lowliest of places.

artwork by Pamela Colman Smith, ca. 1909

Pop culture is no different. For it is we who give meaning to the world, not the other way around.

“The interior of our skulls contains a portal to infinity.”

Grant Morrison,
comic book writer & chaos magician

The universe is a magician’s playground. Let’s play.

artwork by Perry Santulli, ca. 2016

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