Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: A crazy cult came out of the 70s? Get out of town.
Quick synopsis: The rise and….rise? of the Heaven’s Gate cult.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: There are still 2 members walking around right now! The website is up to date!
Fun Fact for History Nerds: I remember this vividly but always thought the cult was relatively new. Nope, this thing started in 1974.
My Take: This is not your normal cult documentary.
Generally speaking, cults follow a very specific script. They start as a positive force in people’s lives. People join, do their part, and it all seems very wholesome. Then, there is usually some weird jump in logic where a few people decide to hit the bricks, but others don’t think it’s so bad. Fast forward and the cult leader says he/she is God, people lose all their money, and the weird sex stuff comes to light. Cue the FBI and drop the curtain.
Heaven’s Gate didn’t go that way. First, the leader, Marshall Applewhite didn’t live in splendor and have sex with anything that walked. He may have been a closeted gay man, but it didn’t factor much into the cult. And while you may say these people were brainwashed, it is really hard to see how they were. It wasn’t run like the cults where they try and destroy you when they leave. People were cut off when they did, but the viciousness associated with leaving a cult didn’t exist.
Then again…. they did all kill themselves. Yup, cult.
Verdict: This is not nearly as salacious as a lot of other cult documentaries, but if you like cults and a deep dive into them, this is pretty good.
If You Liked This Try:
- Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO Max)
- I Love You, Now Die (HBO Max)
- American Murder: The Family Next Door (Netflix)
- Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Netflix)
- Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (Netflix)
- Holy Hell (Netflix)
- Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix)