The Believers (1987, dir. John Schlesinger)
This is another gem that I saw in the summer of 1987, and it scarred me for years. This came at a time in my life when I was very interested in all things occult, and conversely, all things having to do with demons and Satanism scared the living shit out of me. I remember hearing stories of people fainting during screenings of this movie, but now I think back on that and consider those stories as elaborate marketing ploys. As a kid who was devout Catholic and had a healthy sense of fear and curiosity of all things esoteric, this movie was almost made just for me.
The over-arching idea of an all-powerful cult, a cult that not only was “different” or “foreign” to me, but also practiced human sacrifice really unnerved me and frightened me the most as a kid. I remember hearing stories in the 80s about kids being kidnapped and killed in the name of Satan during the height of the “Satanic Panic.” Naturally, my cousin and I had to go see this movie. We were both horror film fans, and his older brothers introduced me to Death Metal from Sweden, and many of those rockers were self-proclaimed Satanists. Basically, the late 80s was a time when I could have easily joined a cult and served in the service of the Dark Lord, as my mother was often afraid would happen.
Aside from the overtly demonic elements of this movie, the paranoia, the sense of “there’s nowhere to turn” and the hallucinogenic aspects of the movie, the opening scene still fucks me up. This opening scene starts simply enough, and then milk is spilled. Gotta clean up the milk that is now a puddle on the floor. While cleaning up the puddle of milk, the mom in the scene also addresses a smoking and hissing coffee maker. When she touches the power button she’s immediately jolted with voltage and begins to be slowly electrocuted while her family looks on in horror and helpless ness. I literally didn’t go near spilled milk or coffee makers for about five years. And I always watched where I was standing when messing with appliances.
That’s the message of warning that I took from John Schlesinger’s The Believers – Mr. Coffee wants to kill you in the name of an Afro-Caribbean death cult.