Part ‘Blake’s 7’-style sci-fi, part fantasy and part schlocky horror, the film opens in 1947 with the venomous, foul-mouthed Crowley (John Shrapnel) being visited by a pair of students shortly before he collapses and dies. Flash forward to contemporary Cambridge, and we witness American inventor Dr Joshua Mathers (Kal Weber) and Cambridge student Victor Newman (Jud Charlton), setting up an experiment with a virtual reality suit that imbues the wearer with the thought processes of others.
Being a Crowley fan, Newman programs the suit with a complex set of equations inspired by Crowley’s black magic ceremonies and persuades bungling lecturer Dr Oliver Haddo (Callow) to wear it. It all goes awry, however, when Haddo emerges from the suit, not as himself but as a full-blown reincarnation of evil Crowley.
It’s at this point that it all turns ugly, with Haddo’s deranged Crowley figure embarking on a debauched quest involving flagellation, masturbation, urination and eventual death. Nice. Written by Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson and directed by former ‘Monty Python’ collaborator Julian Doyle, ‘Chemical Wedding’ is an anomaly most notable for Callow’s off-the-rails performance. Unfortunately, most other elements just don’t cut it: the plot is impenetrable, the special effects are reminiscent of early ‘Doctor Who’, and the whole has a dated ’60s ‘B’-movie feel about it.