Sunday, February 01, 2015

Heaven's Goat

Did I just dream Jeff Bridges had a Super Bowl Ad?

UPDATE: Pepsi started off halftime with a UFO animation, syncing yet again with Heaven's Gate saga. And Katy Perry entered as the Scarlet Woman of the Book of Revelation, riding a giant beast. 

In light of the recent revelation about the Heaven's Gate suicides, I've been thinking about the concept of the walk-in, and how it differs from the more prevalent idea of possession. 

I began to wonder if the classic New Age concept of the walk-in has ever been depicted onscreen, since The X-Files' treatments of the theme are oblique and ambiguous. Finally, I came up with two definite examples. 

But once I began pulling at the threads an entire synchrosweater began to unravel.

Supernatural (which had a number of X-Files veterans behind the camera in its early seasons) has been running for 11 seasons now riffing on the idea of angels and demons at war in another realm and wearing 'meatsuits', or human bodies, to carry out their work in the human realm. This concept got a few go-rounds in X-Files ('Revelations', 'All Souls', 'Terms of Endearment') but also in 1013s Millennium, with the Legion demons such as Lucy Butler and Aleister Pepper and angels such as Sammael and uh, Samiel.

Although I don't recall the term being used, one of Supernatural's lead characters, Castiel, is fairly close to a classic walk-in, a believer who offered up his body to an angel (enormous creatures of light, upon which humans can't gaze). More often than not, the meatsuit borrowing isn't voluntary. 

But that's corny old angel-demon stuff and doesn't fit the migrating ET spirit theme of the New Age walk-in as we know it:

Scully: "So, you started to tell me about walk-ins, but I'm not sure if I grasped the finer points." 
Mulder: "It's kind of a new age religion based on an old idea, that if you lose hope or despair and want to leave this mortal coil you become open and vulnerable." 
Scully: "To inhabitation by a new spirit." 
Mulder: "A new enlightened spirit." 

But as I was researching this a more nagging thought kept itching at my brain, something that I couldn't let go of; to any cineaste the term's "Heaven's Gate" has a very definite meaning. 

It describes a notorious disaster that sank the promising career of director Michael Cimino, and was part of a string of expensive flops (Spielberg's 1941, Altman's Popeye, Coppola's One From the Heart, Xanadu, Sgt. Pepper's) that had critics up in arms in the late 70s and early 80s.

Attempts have been made over the years to rehabilitate the film, with varying degrees of success. I don't remember seeing it, but may have back in the early VHS days when we rented everything. 

What interests me about the film is the cast. In the supporting cast alone, we have Geoffrey Lewis, Terry O'Quinn and Tom Noonan, all of whom had remarkable guest appearances on The X-Files.

The star of Heaven's Gate is Kris Kristofferson, who costarred with Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel and - wait for it - Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity, which depicted Dracula as one of the Anunaki. 

Reynolds co-starred in the 'Double Helix' mindfuck episode of The Outer Limits, the Heaven's Gate wetdream-come-true episode that somehow aired the week of their suicides. This was when Reynolds was a teenage Canadian TV nobody, not the movie star he later became (also, he's a Nine).

Heaven's Gate also features Jeff Bridges, who also starred with Kevin Spacey in what is generally acknowledged as one of the films following the classic walk-in formula- a man suffers terrible trauma and is then possessed by the spirit of an enlightened alien being traveling from a distant utopia.

I began to wonder; Jeff Bridges stars in a film about walk-ins and a film called Heaven's Gate? 


Bridges himself played a variation on the walk-in theme in John Carpenter's Starman, in which he reconstructed the body of a dead man using a strand of hair found in a brush. As we saw before, Wavelength writer/director Mike Gray was hired to produce the Starman series, based on the film. 

Gray lent a major effects rig to Carpenter, the big Stargate-like spaceship that is featured at the climax of both Wavelength and Starman.

By the way, there's only a small handful of movies about alien spiritual possession out there, but for some reason Robert Carradine, the star of Wavelength, has appeared in two of them; the Tommyknockers TV miniseries and John Carpenters' Ghosts of Mars. How about that for a "sync?"

Mike Gray went onto work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which borrowed the basic plot of Starman --a disembodied alien reconstructing a lost loved one-- for "The Bonding", Ronald B. Moore's first sale (Moore went onto fame with his adaption of Glen Larson and Leslie Stevens' Battlestar Galactica). 

"The Bonding" was produced during Michael Piller's first season as showrunner, and saw the reintroduction of Nine-like discarnate aliens capable of altering time and space. In this case they reincarnated a dead crew member (played by an actress who got her start in Glen Larson's company of actors), with the surname "Aster". 

Alice Astor was one of the original Round Table who channeled the Nine in Maine in 1952.

Mike Gray allegorized a disaster that had taken place during a remote viewing exercise in Wavelength, an attempt to contact non-human intelligences that may have used children as mediums that resulted in the death of personnel. 

A similar disaster has been allegorized in the The Outer LimitsThe X-Files and the Taken miniseries (aka "season 10 of The X-Files"). All three are considerably different enough as to not be copying each other but riffing on the same source material.

One possible source is a paper published and circulated in the USNET days by the Rev. Ray Boeche, a MUFON director who came into contact with the Collins Elite. Representatives from that group informed him what was being done in the black projects world:

Research is being done on teleportation, healing, extracting information from the brains of dead subjects, remote viewing, developing computers with the ability to interpret and record the waveforms of thoughts, enabling them to be recorded and or transmitted.

Several projects have been designed to study "negative healing", the psychic infliction of pain, injury, and death.
Kind of stuff you don't want circulating. Kind of stuff you create bogus programs to steer people away from. Which brings us to...

Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey would reunite in The Men Who Stare at Goats, the John Sergeant book on the First Earth Battalion and the Army's remote viewing program that some dismal, sniveling shill took credit for. Bridges played a character based on First Earth Batallion Jim Channon, who had extensive contacts with Esalen and is generally seen as a decent guy.

Spacey played a character based loosely on Major Ed Dames (with a little L. Ron Hubbard thrown in), who worked on the Army's RV program. I can tell you first-hand that people I spoke to in the Bay Area RV/psi world didn't think much of the Army's RV program and there are a lot of people out there who think much, much less of Dames.

It's the Dames orbit-- Courtney Brown, Prudence Calabrese, Art Bell-- that brings Heaven's Gate back into the mix. Brown and Calabrese had made the prediction on Bell's show that a planet-sized UFO was traveling in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet, which the Gate interpreted as their taxicab back to the stars. 

But that prediction didn't exist in a vacuum; all manner of outrageous nonsense had conveniently hit the airwaves just as a coalition of religious and skeptical fanatics were fighting to get the military out of the psi research business.

Prudence Calabrese

From an article by Don Ecker entitled "Aftermath of Heaven's Gate: Who Is Responsible?", we see the work of Major Ed Dames and get a sense of his mission in regards to remote viewing. Upon ostensibly leaving the military, Dames formed a company called PSITECH, which claimed to train remote viewers and offered their services to corporate clients :
 Many people have assumed that Dames was a project remote viewer, but he was actually a "monitor," who didn't remote view himself but assisted the remote viewers. 
Even though Dames claims 100 percent accuracy, I and others know he's "missed by a mile" in some of these predictions.
He claimed that remote viewers in his company, PSITECH, had remotely viewed a "platform coming in over our shoulders." Dames said he and his team were amazed to see this object and another land in northern NewMexico.
 According to Dames, the objects were transporting a race of dying aliens from a planet suffering a eco-holocaust… 
After the Hale-Bopp "companion" object was announced, Dames added to his doomsday prophecy by claiming that he and the remote viewers from PSITECH had examined the Hale-Bopp comet and viewed a "container filled with plant-killing pathogens." 
All of this went down just in time to cast the entire RV program into disrepute and ridicule. Never mind that the Stanford program had been created by two major league scientists, one of whom had been a pioneer in laser technology.

But back to Heaven's Gate. The film also starred Brad Dourif, who made his first splash in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, written by MK Ultra test subject Ken Kesey. 

Dourif also played a channeler/remote viewer in a key early episode of The X-Files, "Beyond the Sea." But it gets weirder. Dourif played another psychic on--you guessed it-- Star Trek, Voyager in this case.

But wait- there's more! Here's the late Philip Coppens, on PSITECH:
The truth of how the “remote viewing” project would be leaked and ridiculed, was also clear: by linking it to little grey aliens – extra-terrestrials. At one point, I typed in on my web browser, and arrived at a site operated by “Psi Tech”. The company (PsiTech) was apparently operated by two individuals, Jonina Dourif, President and Dane Spotts, CEO. So far, nothing wrong. But in 1995, I chanced upon a lecture by Major Ed Dames, who stated he was at the birth of PSI TECH. 
Jonina Dourif was, in fact, his wife, and the ex-wife of actor Brad Dourif. 
Huh. I guess the whole psychic thing isn't just make-believe in the Dourif family. Speaking of which, this:
In an interview with Alex Jones, Gunman Dean Haglund ("Langley") stated that agents from the FBI and NASA would approach Chris Carter with story ideas. Haglund also claimed that the CIA would send people to Hollywood parties to keep tabs on what was being filmed, and said that before The X -Files  premiered, a CIA psychic approached Carter and ensured him that his project would be successful.

Sometimes it seems other Hollywood projects aren't so lucky.

Christopher Walken also appeared in Heaven's Gate and had two very interesting movies premiere in 1983. One was The Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King novel. Walken played a man who received psychic powers after a near-death experience. The Dead Zone was later developed into a TV series by Michael Piller, of Star Trek 9: The Battle for Esalen fame.

The other was considerably more interesting. Like Wavelength, Brainstorm* was produced in 1981 but delayed, in this instance due to the death of its female lead, Natalie Wood. That case is still front page news on the tabloids, with many suspecting the death was the result of foul play. 

Brainstorm was directed by Douglas Trumbull, the effects man for 2001: A Space Odyssey. From iMDb:
Brilliant researchers Lillian Reynolds and Michael Brace have developed a system of recording and playing back actual experiences of people. 
Once the capability of tapping into "higher brain functions" is added in, and you can literally jump into someone else's head and play back recordings of what he or she was thinking, feeling, seeing, etc.… 
The government tries to kick Michael and Lillian off the project once the vast military potential of the technology is discovered...The lab starts producing mind torture recordings and other psychosis-inducing material. 
MGM tried to kill Brainstorm in the wake of Wood's death but Trumbull fought tooth and nail to keep it alive. But the battle ended his career in Hollywood. Like Wavelength, Brainstorm is a movie with heavy MK Ultra undertones. And like Wavelength a connection to Big Sur:
To prepare for the film, Trumbull took most of the key cast and crew up to the Esalen Institute, an experimental research facility in Northern California known for its new-age classes and workshops. 
I should add that this was during the time that the Nine were running Esalen, and were listed as directors in the Esalen catalog.

The story for Brainstorm was written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who returned to MK Ultra themes (in this case the experimentation on GIs in Viet Nam) in Jacob's Ladder, a script the studios wouldn't touch until Adrian Lyne, fresh off a string of box office smashes, took an interest in the project.

Incidentally, Christopher Walken also starred in the Prophecy films, a major influence on Supernatural, which we discussed earlier. He also portrayed Whitley Strieber in the film adaptation of Communion.

 Speaking of MK Ultra AND The Nine...

Louise Fletcher also costarred in this star-crossed film. Fletcher was an Oscar winner for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in which she appeared with Brad Dourif. A fine actress, Fletcher went from Cuckoo's Nest to Brainstorm to, you guessed it, Star Trek

Fletcher was a regular guest star on Deep Space (the) Nine, where she played Kai Winn, a Bene Gesserit-like priestess of the Prophets, or let's just be blunt here: The Nine.

Fletcher also appeared on the CBS show Picket Fences. The X-Files first walk-in drama 'Red Museum', that seemed to have such an impact on Heaven's Gate, was originally written as a crossover with Picket Fences but the plan was scuttled by CBS execs.

Back in 1013 world: Actor/director Grant Heslov, who cast Robert Patrick as a military contractor in The Men Who Stare at Goats, played opposite Patrick on the X-Files in the episode "Via Negativa," which was based heavily on Heaven's Gate.

So Jeff Bridges appears in Heaven's Gate, a walk-in movie, and a film directed by a guy who played a Heaven's Gate-based cultist. Got all that? Get this now...

Heslov played 'Andre Bormanis', a drug wizard who cooks up Iboga derivatives for a charismatic cult leader who does a Heaven's Gate on their followers (one of several references to the Gate on X-Files). Only this guy can do it telepathically, through remote influencing, astral projection, whatever you want to call it: 
Frohike: "We don't know why. But we might tell you how. You've heard of MK Ultra?"

Byers: "The CIA mind control project started in the 50s."

Langly: "They gave LSD to a bunch of people to see what would happen. Didn't bother telling them first."

Frohike: "They understood the power of hallucinogens to harness the mind."

Doggett: "Tipet was the one on hallucinogens, not his victims."

Byers: "The CIA invested millions trying to create psychic assassins, failing where Tipet has evidently succeeded."

Ahh, psychic assassins, remote influencing, bilocation, contact with NHIs, all the truly weird stuff the wicked wizards of Washington were really after. Interesting.

The name chosen for this quasi-MK Ultra drug chef, who cooked up drugs for a Heaven's Gate-inspired cult who all end up dead, led by a leader who inserts himself inside people's dreams, is rather curious considering who in fact he was named in honor of:
Andre Bormanis is an American television producer, screenwriter and author of the book Star Trek: Science Logs. Bormanis is most notable for his involvement in the long-running Star Trek franchise, and was the science consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. 
He also wrote several episodes of the Voyager and Enterprise series, as well as acting as science/technical advisor on the Next Generation films.
Huh. Heaven's Gate and Star Trek. Interesting.

A different kind of walk-in was later introduced on The X-Files, the supersoldiers, more accurately, the human replacements who were being dropped on Earth in place of abductees in order to kill off the population when colonization began (you can relax, it's come and gone). 

The main supersoldiers in season eight were Knowle Rohrer (played by Adam Baldwin of Full Metal Jacket fame) and Billy Miles (played by Zachary Ansley, who appeared in the show's pilot and became a recurring character beginning with "Requiem." 

The supersoldier program was named after an ongoing DARPA project, that has been wildly embroidered by Internet fantasists.

Ansley is very important since after The X-Files he went on to appear on The Outer Limits, in what I would call the most explicit and deliberate use of the Walk-In trope in any presentation that I'm personally aware of: "The Vessel", written by old Glen Larson hand Sam Egan (who was likely a Leslie Stevens hire, given the latter's long and fruitful association with the Larson organization).

It's interesting to note that the scene where the host communicates with the alien walk-in is a visual tribute to "The Galaxy Being" (aka "Please Stand By"), Leslie Stevens'† Outer Limits pilot. Which featured Cliff Robertson. Who was also in Brainstorm.

Unlike K-PAX, there is no ambiguity or uncertainty, and the method in which the host gives himself up to the Walk-In is played out in explicit detail. Heaven's Gate would have loved it (they'd have loved a lot of OL eps), it's a shame they didn't stick around long enough to see it. 

But they did miss Creed and Limp Bizkit, so maybe the joke's on us.

Need more Knowledge?  
Come enroll at the Secret Sun Institute of Advanced Synchromysticism.  

*Strangely enough, another movie with the title Brainstorm was released in 1965- it was Jeffrey Hunter's first major role after turning down the lead on Star Trek. He met an early end as well.

†  Remember that Stevens wrote an influential book called est:The Steersman Handbook in the late 60s. The acronym was almost immediately absconded by Werner Erhard, a former used car salesman who was part of the Esalen orbit in the late 60s, being close friends with co-founder Michael Murphy.