Cults! You don’t just join them — they recruit. And like any ostracized social pariah who’s worth their salt knows, once you’ve been welcomed into the friendly bosom of your surrogate family, there’s no getting out. Well there is, but it involves forever fleeing from psychopathic control freaks, intensive deprogramming, and a healthy dose of paranoia to live out the rest of your days with.
With this is mind, let’s take a sly peek at some of the most popular films about weird cults and their criminally insane and charismatic leaders.
Martha Marcy May Marlene: Patrick
In Martha Marcy May Marlene, Patrick comes across like an honors student from the Charlie Manson school of cult leaders. He plays guitar, talks softly, rapes women, breaks into homes, and kills people. The only question that remains after the brainwashing and lifeless bodies are but a memory is, has Patrick done enough to join the prestigious cult of other memorable cult leaders who have appeared in previous movies? Let’s find out, shall we?
The Lord of the Rings: Sauron
Sauron is undoubtedly the granddaddy of cult leaders. How many of them have nearly accomplished bending a whole world to their will? Sauron’s motto of “One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them” is the war cry of a determined cult leader who believes in universal recruitment. Anyone who goes anywhere near this big guy is in danger of complete corruption and turning into one ugly, wart-faced, hobbit-eating villain with a guttural cockney accent to boot.
The Wicker Man: Lord Summerisle
Cults leaders have big egos and in The Wicker Man, and Christopher Lee’s character Lord Summerisle is no exception. Ruling the island community of — you guessed it — Summerisle with the iron-fist of paganism, Lee is the kind of all-singing, all-dancing and maniacally grinning cult leader who likes to dress up in women’s clothes and call it a religion. He also likes to burn people alive and dignify it with the word sacrifice.
Romper Stomper: Hando
Before he became a rugged Hollywood pin-up boy, Russell Crowe played the cult leader of a vicious gang of neo-Nazi skinheads who lived in a squat in Melbourne. When Hando’s not busy quoting from Mein Kamp, beating up ethnic minorities or throwing foreign food in people’s faces, he loves nothing more than strangling helpful Asian garage attendants to death and accusing his fellow skinheads of going soft and selling-out. Hando’s pretty much a natural born cult leader par excellence.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Dr. Frank-N-Furter
Not the most obvious choice admittedly, but the “sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania” was born to be a cult leader. The tell-tale signs are his insistence on wearing heels, suspenders, and make-up, and being obsessively interested in deviant sexual practices. Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s willingness to break into song at the drop of a hat is also a dead giveaway that he will eat your brains and swallow your soul if you let your guard down for a split-second.
The Manson Family: Charles Manson
You didn’t expect him to be left out, did you? No list would be complete without the murderous midget who killed the sixties by encouraging his followers to break into people’s homes and do “something witchy.” Which translated from Manson-speak means absolute carnage and callous slaughter. Jim Van Bebber’s 2003 film perfectly encapsulates the process by which cult members are programmed by hypnotic and cynical manipulators such as Manson, whose monstrous status in popular culture continues to loom larger than satan’s shadow.
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