Cults, Sects and Mind-Control - Thur. Oct. 3rd - 8PM

Oddball Films and curator Kat Shuchter present Cults, Sects and Mind-Control, a program of vintage films, trailers, original news footage and TV specials about the extremities of beliefs that can lead to brainwashing, violence and even murder.  It's October, and that means it's time to examine the darker reaches of our souls, beginning with the tenuous grasp we each have on our own self-will.  This program will investigate many of the most famous, most destructive cults of the 20th century, many of whom had their roots in San Francisco.  We will begin with two outrageous long-form trailers, one for the docu-drama Manson (1973) containing real footage of "The Family" and The Lash of the Penitentes (1936), a pseudo-documentary of a sect of Catholic flagellators.  CBS news looks into cult brainwashing tactics in Cults: Choice or Coercion (1979).  One young ex-Moonie stars as himself in a reenactment of his journey with the Unification Church until his benevolent capture and deprogramming in the super-rare TV-special Moonchild (1983).  Then, see an excerpt of real documentary footage of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon Day of Hope Crusade (1974) and his thousands of adamant followers.  Felix the Cat gets into the mind-control business when he learns how to hypnotize in Felix Hyps the Hippo (1924).  Witness an excerpt from the outrageous "documentary" Mondo Cane (1962) about a tribe of New Guineans that worship cargo planes.  And for such a heavy show, we'll need a bit of comic relief, in the form of Dan Akroyd starring as the didactic preacher of the Church of Jack Lord (from Hawaii 5-O) in a segment of the underground classic Mister Mike's M*nd* Video (1979).  And finally, from San Francisco's own News Outtakes, an original 1977 news broadcast of Jim Jones and members of the People's Temple after a fire was set at the temple on Geary, and original uncut footage of the 1975 Capture of Patty Hearst, the poster-heiress for brain-washing and Stockholm syndrome.  All films are original 16mm prints from our 50,000 title archive and most are not available to view anywhere else.  So start your October out at Oddball with a healthy dose of the morbid history of mind-control.

Date: Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 8:00PM
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to: 415-558-8117 or 


Manson Trailer (Color, 1973) 
This long form film trailer docu-drama terrifies us with actual footage of mass murderer Charles Manson and his girl gang. Meant for rubbernecking exploitation fans and disguised as an "insight"!

The Lash of the Penitentes Trailer (B+W, 1936) 
"Penitentes" were a secretive cult of Catholic religious zealots in New Mexico. During their ceremonies, they whip and lash themselves bloody until they fall into unconsciousness. In the early 1930s, documentary filmmaker Roland C. Price managed to secretly film some of their ceremonies before he was discovered and almost killed; during his escape he was shot several times and lost a finger. Several years afterward, exploitation specialist Harry J. Revier shot some new, and fictional, footage about a filmmaker trying to photograph a Penitente ceremony who gets involved in a love triangle and murder. The new footage included shocking (for the time) scenes of naked women being whipped. He combined this footage with Price's and passed the whole thing off as a documentary.

Cults: Choice or Coercion (1979, CBS)
Examines the reasons why young people are attracted to religious cults such as Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Includes interviews with a UC Berkeley professor, Dr. Margaret Singer, explaining cults’ recruitment techniques, one teenager who devoted two years to the Moonies, his parents, and the former Moonie who deprogramed him, in order to provide insight into the appeal of, techniques employed by, and psychological and emotional effects on cults.  Near end, montage of Moonies protesting outside United States Capitol Building, fact- finding panel by Senator Robert Dole who speaks on religion. - WorldCat

Moonchild (Color, 1983)
"I've been here for a week and I never knew you guys were Moonies"
A rare made-for-TV special. A reenactment of real life deprogrammers and ex-Moonies re-create the story of young man's journey through the Unification Church. Chris Carlson stars as himself to reveal how he unexpectedly got sucked into a cult, and it all started in San Francisco!  Youth recruiting tactics and high pressure indoctrination are exposed. This film attempts to show how the effects of cult brainwashing can be reversed by simulating the painstaking process of deprogramming.  Get a taste for it now with this opening clip...

Felix Hyps the Hippo (B+W, 1924)
Felix the Cat gets into the mind-control racket!  He gets duped by a hypnotist, but snags the man's "How to be a Hypnotist" book and declares "Hooray! I have the world in my power!"  When he sees a sign for a reward for a lost hippo, he tries to put his mind-control powers to work in order to cash in.

Reverend Sun Myung Moon Day Of Hope Crusade (Color, 1974 Excerpt)

Documentary about a gathering of the International Unification Church, orchestrated by Sun Myung Moon in New York.  With highly rhetorical narration on Sun Myung Moon’s role of leading America back to her true identity, to God and footage of Moon preaching to his faithful while gesticulating and jumping up and down maniacally as he talks, you can witness the thousands of people blisfully under his spell.

Mondo Cane Excerpt (Color, 1962)
An outrageous excerpt from the first Mondo Cane film that became a cult sensation, documenting strange rituals around the world.  The most (in)famous sequence- Cargo Cults- primitive tribes that worshipped airplanes as gods.

Mister Mike's M*nd* Video (Color 1979, Excerpt)
Dan Akroyd stars as the blustery preacher of the church of Jack Lord (from Hawaii 5-O) at the "Mainland Temple of the Perfect Wave" in a bit from this underground classic. Conceived by SNL writer Michael O'Donohue as a spoof on 1960's shock documentaries and intended to air on television, it was deemed too over-the-top and offensive by network executives. Eventually released as a short feature film where it became a midnight-movie staple, the origin of this print is a mystery and contains slugs for commercials.  Could this be the original program intended for late night TV in 1979? 

People's Temple San Francisco Footage (B+W, 1960s)
See ultra-rare news footage of San Francisco-era Jim Jones and the People's Temple shortly after their church had been set fire to.  They protest with signs and Jim asserts that they are being persecuted for their fervent beliefs.

Patty Hearst and the SLA (Color, 1975)
A rare piece of San Francisco's historical dark-side!  Original news footage of the local capture of Patty Hearst and the surviving members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a group of radical militants that kidnapped the young heiress.  Hearst was subjected to mind-control tactics like locking her in a closet for nearly 2 months until she began to side with her captors, even falling in love with one of them.  Patty and the SLA robbed a San Francisco bank at gunpoint, and she was later apprehended and convicted (though later presidentially pardoned).

Curator’s Biography
Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, artist and esoteric ephemera hoarder.  She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and The Cinefamily and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009.

About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.