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Loosely based on Herff Applewhite (co-founder), and the cult known as "The Two", or the UFO Missionaries. His partner died in 1985, and Herff continued leading the group. Sometime between 1994 and 1996, the group adopted the name "Heaven's Gate". Their theology had changed somewhat by this time since the co-leaders death. See more »
I got the chance to watch this twice on an obscure cable channel. Otherwise it's very difficult to get hold of (it didn't appear on IMDb for a number of years).
It's by turns quite dated and cheesy, and oddly creepy and atmospheric. We never do really find out what's going on. In that sense, it's quite close to "Picnic at Hanging Rock". Two cult leaders start indoctrinating people, and one by one they start disappearing. The lesson here, perhaps is about giving yourself over to the unknown, particularly when you don't know what its intentions are.
Basically this film is a reaction to the various UFO sects that have sprung up over the years (especially in the decade or so before the film) - Heaven's Gate, Raelians, Share International ("Maitreya"), George Adamski, the Aetherius Society etc, and also some of the tragedies resulting from New Religious Movements in general, e.g. the Jonestown Massacre, the Manson Gang etc. As it turned out, the film demonstrates a real concern, as there have been many more such tragedies since then. It's also about the souring of the hippie/New Age ideal, about peace and love distorted and gone horribly wrong.
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