Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Stranger Things: Uncle Sam's Secret Sorcerers III

 "The truth, the truth! There's no truth. These men, they make it up as they go along. They're the engineers of the future. They're the real revolutionaries."† 

Stranger Things claims to draw inspiration from 80s horror but is entirely lacking in the gore and trauma that defined that decade. It is in fact more derived from 80s sci-fi, particularly the work of Steven Spielberg, than the mindless carnage of the slasher films that ruled the Eighties scene.

But 80s horror does dovetail quite nicely with the next chapter of our story, a year in which America-- and indeed, the entire world-- were buffeted by an endless series of traumas, both real and manufactured. 

And the seeds planted in 1968 would bear poisonous fruit for years to come. For some strange reason it all feels closer at hand this year than ever before.

How much of this was the work of the shadowy black magicians of the CIA's MKOFTEN, the real authors of the events we see unfold in Stranger Things? 

We may never know. But the damage is still done.

1968 began with the Tet Offensive, a major operation designed to destroy American morale and weaken the public's patience with the increasingly bloody and apparently futile war effort in Viet Nam. Despite heavy losses for the North, the offensive was a major strategic success:
On January 31, 1968, some 70,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launched the Tet Offensive (named for the lunar new year holiday called Tet), a coordinated series of fierce attacks on more than 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam. 
General Vo Nguyen Giap, leader of the Communist People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), planned the offensive in an attempt both to foment rebellion among the South Vietnamese population and encourage the United States to scale back its support of the Saigon regime. 
Though U.S. and South Vietnamese forces managed to hold off the Communist attacks, news coverage of the offensive (including the lengthy Battle of Hue) shocked and dismayed the American public and further eroded support for the war effort.
Although details of the horror wouldn't be known for another year, 1968 saw one of the most horrific and senseless atrocities of the Viet Nam War:

(A) company of American soldiers brutally killed the majority of the population of the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai in March 1968. Though exact numbers remain unconfirmed, it is believed that as many as 500 people including women, children and the elderly were killed in the My Lai Massacre... 
The public's patience with the war wore thin as details of the massacre were revealed. But it wasn't the end of the nightmare in Southeast Asia, not by a long shot.  

In early April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. A drifter named James Earl Ray would be arrested and convicted for the assassination but would protest his innocence until his death. 

A lot of other people would come to doubt the government's version of King's killing. From "
The Conspiracy to Kill Martin Luther King Jr: Not a Theory But a Fact, According to Our Own Legal System":
But there surely were people in the federal government who thought they had good reason to join a conspiracy to get rid of Dr. King. He was deep into planning for the Poor People’s Campaign, which would bring poor folks of every race and ethnicity to Washington, DC...That meant redistributing wealth -- an idea that made perfect sense to Dr. King, who was a harsh critic of the evils of capitalism (as well as communism). 
It also meant uniting whites and non-whites in the lower income brackets, to persuade them that the suffering they shared in common was stronger than the racial prejudice that divided them..
The resulting civil unrest crippled urban America:
Over the course of the following week, riots broke out in 125 cities nationwide. In many instances the National Guard was required to quell the violence...When they were over, some 39 people were dead, more than 2,600 injured and 21,000 arrested. The damages were estimated at $65m - about $385m today. 
But the real damage was rendered over a much longer term...The riots literally burned out the centres of major American cities, and in their aftermath few investors, insurance companies or businesspeople were willing to return. Dozens of inner cities, already under strain from the suburbs, simply collapsed, leaving in their wake a miasma of unemployment, crime and poverty.

Adding to the apocalyptic mood of 1968 were the Paris riots, which brought the entire country of France to a standstill and nearly collapsed the government.
The volatile period of civil unrest in France during May 1968 was punctuated by demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France.  
The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution...(t)he protests spurred an artistic movement...but also intense violence, which ultimately ensured their defeat and the Gaullist government to remain strong and unopposed by its socialist critics.
Similarly, Richard Nixon would be elected in 1968, in a three-way race with Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Southern segregationist George Wallace.  The unrest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago went a long way in establishing Nixon's cred as the "law and order" candidate. Nixon would crush George McGovern for re-election in 1972, despite the growing Watergate scandal.

Likewise the so-called Prague Spring, a brief period of liberalization, ended with tanks and troops invading Czechoslovakia:

The Prague Spring reforms were a strong attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. 
On the night of 20–21 August 1968, Eastern Bloc armies from five Warsaw Pact countries...invaded the ČSSR...That night, 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks entered the country. 


MKOFTEN consultant Sybil Leek would release her Diary of a Witch in 1968 and would work the talk show circuit to promote it. Witchcraft would become a major fad following its publication.

With LSD losing its cache with the glitterati (especially following the Beatles' disavowal of the drug in mid-67) UCLA student Carlos Castaneda would kick off the vogue for magic mushrooms with his book The Teachings of Don Juan, which he claimed was a field study of his time with an indigenous shaman but has subsequently been challenged as a work of fiction.

Kenneth Anger, flush with funds from the CIA-directed Ford Foundation and from oil heir John Paul Getty II, moved his Lucifer Rising operation to London in 1968 and fell in with The Rolling Stones, who were then recording their post-psychedelic album Beggar's Banquet. 

Mick Jagger would record some random doodles on the Moog synthesizer for Anger's film, which would end up as the soundtrack for Invocation of My Demon Brother, the filmmaker's tribute to Aleister Crowley. Stones siren Marianne Faithful would play Lilith in the Lucifer film.

Anger claimed the Stones recorded "Sympathy for the Devil" at his suggestion.

The Stones would be playing "Sympathy" the following year, kicking off a chain of events that led to Hells Angels pledges beat a young black man named Meredith Hunter to death at the Altamount Raceway. Hunter was filmed approaching the stage brandishing a firearm.

Altamount would be remembered as the anti-Woodstock, and the death-knell of Aquarian idealism.


Several films released in 1968 would continue to reverberate for years, often decades after their release, and some are still very much relevant today. With Satanism more visible than it has been since the late 60s, one film in particular stands out as a benchmark, and perhaps as a bellweather.

Rosemary's Baby, starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes,  was released in 1968 and caused a sensation. Curiously, it stuck to the novel's conceit of 1966 as "Year One" for the Satanist cabal who orchestrated the birth of the Antichrist. 

Is it simple coincidence that 1966 was also Year One for MK-OFTEN?

Part of the film's (and of course, the novel's) insidious power is the depiction of the cabal and its ruthless methods of achieving its ends. The use of an anagrammatic code becomes a key plot point in the film, something worth considering when looking at Rosemary author Ira Levin's experience in the Signal Corps.

What is also remarkable- and shocking for the time- about Rosemary is the depiction of the coven. 

Rather than being drawn as drooling maniacs or mustache twirlers in the LaVey mode, the Satanists are presented as kindly, caring, and rather charming 
eccentrics who have a legitimate grudge against society. This approach lends them a greater sense of reality than movie goers were used to. 

Rosemary still holds up as a master class in modern suspense. It marked an artistic high point for its director, Roman Polanski, who would stare into the face of real evil the following year, when his pregnant wife was murdered by Susan Atkins and other members of the Manson Family ("Susan" was one of the names Rosemary considered for her baby in the film). 

Polanski himself would later plead guilty to the statutory rape of a 13 year-old girl and flee to France to escape a fifty year jail sentence for the rape and other charges.

Rosemary was filmed at the famous Dakota building in New York City, a detail that would be recirculated when John Lennon was killed outside it by Mark David Chapman in 1980. Mia Farrow was part of the Beatles' entourage to India in 1968. Lennon composed the Beatles' standard "Dear Prudence" for Farrow's sister.

That song would be featured on the so-called "White Album", released in 1968, which would play a major part in the apocalyptic delusions of Charles Manson.

Kenneth Anger would claim that he was approached by Chapman at a film festival shortly before Lennon's murder. Chapman allegedly handed Anger a handful of bullets and said, "These are for John Lennon."

Anger would premiere Lucifer Rising in New York shortly after Lennon's death.

Like many films of the period, Rosemary's Baby would inspire reams of truly insipid social and academic commentary, a symptom of the total collapse of intellectual rigor inside the Ivory Tower following the convulsions of the 1960s. 

Like this mind-boggling nonsense:
Many interpretations of the film suggest that it harbors strong sentiments about the prevalent feminist culture of the 1960s, suggesting that Rosemary’s association with Satan’s child puts her in a position of power and authority, and therefore the reproductive power of women in general places the entire female population in a similar position. 
Unbelievable. Where do you start?

Let's start here: Rosemary is the victim of a brutal rape orchestrated by a Satanic conspiracy. Her baby is then stolen from her upon birth and she is essentially reduced to nanny status by the cabal, who are exasperated by the infant's crying.

Where exactly is her power or authority?

And any illusions that Polanski- a convicted rapist himself, remember- is some kind of feminist ally are pulverized by his treatment of his first wife, Sharon Tate:

Polanski filmed orgies at their house and showed the videos at parties, later reported to be sadomasochistic porno movies with many recognizable Hollywood faces.  He trolled Sunset Boulevard and its clubs for girls he brought home for threesomes. Sharon was totally intimidated by him. 

'(Polanski) told her (Yate) to dress; he told her what makeup he liked, what he didn't like. He preferred her with nothing, no makeup. But he ruled her entire life from the time she met him,' Tate's friend Joanna Pettet (said).
Did Polanski film those pornos for blackmail purposes? Might that explain some of Hollywood's irrational support for him?

Another of the national traumas of 1968 was the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles. Kennedy was the frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination and was killed at a campaign appearance, ostensibly by a Palestinian immigrant named Sirhan Sirhan.

But Sirhan's story got stranger the more one looked into it, filled with stories of Rosicrucians and second shooters and strange girls in polka-dot dresses. And that was only the start.

Sirhan may well have had contact with the Process Church, or whoever was using the church as cover: 

Ed Sanders, in the first Dutton edition of The Family: The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion, suggested that The Process Church had “a baleful influence” on Sirhan Sirhan....  
... Sirhan talked several times prior to Kennedy’s death about visiting a certain occult group in London...a Process member named Lloyd worked as a chef at the Ambassador Hotel at the time of RFK’s assassination...Sirhan visited a friend in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen only a day before the assassination. 
In the revised 2002 edition of The Family, Sanders recounted a 1974 investigation into “a satanic group of English origin” conducted by an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) criminal investigator named Richard Smith...
According to Sanders, an investigator working for him contacted Smith and was allowed to read his report, which stated, “English satanist cult members invited Sirhan Sirhan to a number of parties that were sponsored by television people in Los Angeles, and that one of the parties took place at Sharon Tate’s residence. At these parties, it was averred, sexual and ritualistic activities were reported to have occurred.”  
Conclusive? No. But yet more sulfurous smoke around the Process.


The nonsense written about Rosemary's Baby pales in comparison to the endless attempts to graft therapeutic social commentary onto another 1968 landmark, Night of the Living Dead. 

Created by a team of television commercial producers and distributed by a fast-buck outfit who curiously neglected to copyright the film, Night would spawn a genre that is more popular today than ever; the dehumanizing, sadistic zombie genre.

Zombies had been seen in pictures before but never like in Night:
Prior to the release of the film in 1968, “zombie” movies focused on “voodoo zombies”, which meant living victims that were turned into slaves by supernatural forces.  
Night of the Living Dead changed that by rebranding the zombie into a undead killer that hungers for human flesh (or brains). It also established much of the lore that surrounds modern zombies, such as the idea of having to destroy the brain of a zombie to kill it, zombies being afraid of fire and so forth...
Nearly every zombie movie since 1968 owes its roots to Night of the Living Dead, even those that deviate from the formula. 
Since its release, there's been a never-ending deluge of nonsense like this written about the film:
 Some film scholars argue that this film can be read as a subversive critique of 1960s American society with most of them interpreting the film as dealing with racism, the Vietnam War, a patriarchal society, and distrust of authorities.
Bear in mind this is a movie in which an 11 year-old girl is depicted eating her father's corpse.

Perhaps the efforts made to redeem the film are meant to disguise the way in which it was premiered to the American public: as a kids' movie.

Yeah, you read that correctly. A kids' movie.

Night of the Living Dead premiered on October 1, 1968 at the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh. Nationally, it was shown as a Saturday afternoon matinée – as was typical for horror films at the time – and attracted an audience consisting of pre-teens and adolescents. The MPAA film rating system was not in place until November 1968, so even young children were not prohibited from purchasing tickets. 
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert covered Night's premiere for The Chicago Sun-Times. His report is equally legendary:
There were maybe two dozen people in the audience who were over 16 years old. The rest were kids, the kind you expect at a Saturday afternoon kiddie matinee. This was in a typical neighborhood theater, and the kids started filing in 15 minutes early to get good seats up front. 
Ebert saw how the mood swiftly changed in the theatre as children- children- were subjected to what can only be described as an act of organized child abuse:
The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. 
There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying... It's hard to remember what sort of effect this movie might have had on you when you were six or seven. But try to remember.   
You read so much nonsense in the conspiratainment media about "trauma-based mind control", over the most innocuous images, like hands over eyes or broken mirrors.

This was the real fucking thing. 

I felt real terror in that neighborhood theater last Saturday afternoon. I saw kids who had no resources they could draw upon to protect themselves from the dread and fear they felt.  
Lest you think this was some kind of oversight, or a case of mis-marketing, be aware that it most definitely was not:
"Night of the Living Dead" was passed for general audiences by the Chicago Police Censor Board. Since it had no nudity in it, it was all right for kids, I guess. This is another example, and there have been a lot of them, of the incompetence and stupidity of the censorship system that Chicago stubbornly maintains under political patronage.
Incompetence? Rest assured that if there had been a nipple accidentally exposed for a half-second that the film would have been pulled.

No, this was deliberate

The effects that extreme horror can have on the viewer are well-known.
Research from Joanne Cantor, the outreach director of the Center for Communication Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests horror movies generally keep many people scared long after they’ve seen horrific images. 
“These findings reveal that scary movies have an overwhelming tendency to stay with the viewer for a long time, long after the viewer understands that the lingering response is to some extent irrational,” wrote Cantor. 
She says that even though we know a specific killer never lived and that murders we witness in a horror flick never took place, the story vividly reminds us of real threats that do exist in the world around us...realistic fiction is highly plausible and can therefore profoundly affect the way we see and respond to our own world.
That study was done on adults. Recently. 

Just imagine children in 1968.

Studies like this have been done for a long time. Despite the protests by producers and their shills, the effects of exposure to endless gore and extreme violence are unambiguously negative.

Now, horrific imagery has its place in storytelling. But most of the films that followed in Night's wake reveled in gore simply for its own sake, devoid of moral or ethical content. And what exactly is the moral content in Night of the Living Dead? It ends with nothing but death and despair.

And it was originally marketed for children.

Night of the Living Dead didn't pioneer the use of gore in exploitation film. 

That honor goes to the mind-numbingly misogynistic Blood Feast, a moronic twist on Hitchcock's Psycho made by fast-buck artist Herschell Gordon Lewis. 

It's considered the first "splatter" film.

The movie is uniformly awful in every conceivable manner, but is distinguished by a curious use of occult imagery (note the Sphinx behind the title card):
Blood Feast is a 1963 American splatter film directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. It concerns a psychopathic food caterer who kills women so that he can include their body parts in his meals and perform sacrifices to his "Egyptian goddess" Ishtar. 

Dozens of imitators would follow. Including, arguably, Night of the Living Dead. But the sadism and cruelty of the 60s slasher films was cartoonish compared to what would come in the 1970s....
...notably Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The psychopathy, misogyny -and indeed, misanthropy- depicted in House was so extreme that the film's distributor was forced to try to redeem the film with a ridiculously-disingenuous therapeutic disclaimer:
 “The movie makes a plea for an end to all the senseless violence and inhuman cruelty that has become so much a part of the times in which we live. WE DON’T THINK ANY MOVIE CAN GO TOO FAR IN MAKING THIS MESSAGE HEARD AND FELT!”  
John Carpenter would up the ante in 1978 with Halloween, which invited the audience to see the carnage from the killer's point of view:
(critics) blame the film for spawning the slasher subgenre, which they felt had rapidly descended into sadism and misogyny...Mick Martin and Marsha Porter critiqued the first-person camera shots that earlier film reviewers had praised and later slasher-film directors utilized for their own films... Claiming it encouraged audience identification with the killer, Martin and Porter pointed to the way "the camera moves in on the screaming, pleading, victim, 'looks down' at the knife, and then plunges it into chest, ear, or eyeball. Now that's sick." 
Halloween would have no small effect. 

Besides launching a franchise of films, there would be no less than 293 "slasher" films made in the 1980smost of which centered on the brutal murders of young women. 

That's not including the non-slasher "splatter" horror films.

What would be the effect of making serial killers "Hannibal Lecter", "Jason" and "Michael Myers" and "Freddie Krueger" into cultural heroes? 

Concurrent with the rise of the slasher film in the 60s would be an explosion of serial killing, particularly in the United States. 

The 10 worst serial killers in the world all date from the slasher era of Hollywood, as do nearly all of the worst serial killers of the 20th Century.

In fact 76% of all known serial killers in the past 100 years are American.

And by sheer happenstance, the serial killing in America rose and fell with the depiction and glorification of these psychopaths in motion pictures.


1968 saw the rise of the so-called Zodiac Killer, a masked madman who liked to taunt the media with codes and cyphers. He operated out of the San Francisco Bay Area, as would several other serial killers at the time:
The self-proclaimed Zodiac Killer was directly linked to at least five murders in Northern California in 1968 and 1969 and may have been responsible for more. After he taunted police and made threats through letters sent to area newspapers from 1969 to 1974, further communication from him abruptly stopped. Despite an intensive search for the killer and the investigation into numerous suspects, no one was ever arrested for the crimes and the case remains open.
And when would his first communication arrive? On Lammas, the same day we saw Charles Whitman inaugurate the era of mass shooting:
On August 1, 1969, the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle and Vallejo Times-Herald each received an identical handwritten letter in an envelope without a return address. Beginning “Dear Editor: I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmas at Lake Herman . . .” the letters contained details from the murders that only the killer could have known. 


Part of his terror campaign was waged through the media, as if he understood that the fear he was arousing was as effective in traumatizing the city as the killings themselves:
The killer went on to threaten further attacks if the letters weren’t printed on the front page of the papers. Each closed with a symbol consisting of a circle with a cross through it and was accompanied by one part of a three-part cipher that he claimed contained his identity.
But the Zodiac killings suddenly stopped in 1974:
Then, in 1974, the letters stopped...At least five other murders have been tentatively linked to the Zodiac, including the 1963 shooting of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards near Santa Barbara, California, and the 1966 stabbing death of college student Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California. However, in both these and the known Zodiac murders, no suspect has ever been arrested.
Strangely enough there would be two other serial killers working the Bay Area around the same time who were never caught- the so-called "Original Night Stalker" and the "Doodler".

The case has become an obsession for amateur sleuths:
(F)ormer San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith wrote two separate works on the Zodiac...ultimately identifying a man named Arthur Leigh Allen as the most likely suspect. Allen died in 1992, however, and was never conclusively connected to any of the murders. 
Most recently, (author Gary Stewart claims) to have uncovered that his father, Earl Van Best Jr.—who bears a strong resemblance to the man pictured in the police sketch—was the Zodiac Killer. As with Allen, however, there is no conclusive proof to connect Van Best to the murders.
Other suspects have been named by Zodiac hobbyistsBut they can't all be right. 


What if they were? What if the Zodiac killings were an op, by some cult or agency? And as such were performed by a team?

Note that 1974 is the same year the Process Church splintered and Robert DeGrimston was forced out. What if the Process- or the Zodiac- were no longer useful to whoever was working behind the scenes, if such parties did indeed exist?

The Zodiac symbol is not entirely unlike the Process symbol (both arguably based on solar wheels), and do note this was a killer who loved his symbols and his cyphers.

And bearing in mind theories that Charles Manson learned his race-war-apocalypse theology from contact with the Process, note that the Zodiac symbol is also identical to the so-called Celtic Cross, used by Neo-Nazis since the Second World War.

It's not like cults- especially in the Bay Area- haven't been fronts for other intelligence operations before.

Now this all sounds crazy until you realize that the Son of Sam killings (originally called the "44 Caliber Killer") were widely compared to the Zodiac killings in the late 70s, and the Son of Sam killings have been widely linked to the Process Church, or at least a splinter group of which.

Linked most recently by that hotbed of conspiratainment....uh,  New York Magazine. 
In his 1987 book The Ultimate Evil, Terry, a former business journalist for IBM, proposed a bold new theory of David’s crimes, and also of his character. In Terry’s view, David’s fundamental flaw wasn’t insanity or emotional instability but an abiding gullibility.  
“Berkowitz was susceptible to any line of shit,” says Terry. His failing, the one that underpinned all others, was an intense loneliness, a vulnerability....He “thirsted,” as he put it, for normal relationships with people. One night, outside his Bronx building, he ran into Michael Carr, son of Sam Carr, the neighbor whose dog did or didn’t speak to David. Michael Carr invited David to a nearby park, which Terry says was a meeting place for a Westchester affiliate of (the Process Church).   
David began attending meetings in the woods. “Before long he was cutting prints in his finger and pledging to Lucifer,” says Terry...(t)he group got into small-time arson and animal sacrifices, and then it escalated.
Serial killers are notorious for trying to pawn off their crimes on other suspects. The problem here is that witnesses described shooters who matched the Carrs' descriptions.

Terry says the cult was behind the Son of Sam killings. There’s long been circumstantial evidence that David didn’t act alone. Six police sketches based on eyewitness accounts look dramatically dissimilar (and one closely resembles Michael Carr’s brother, John). 
The most compelling corroboration, though, comes, as usual, from David. In 1993, Terry interviewed him in prison for Inside Edition. (Berkowitz said), “The killings were another sacrifice to our gods...We made a pact, maybe with the devil, but also with each other … We were going to go all the way with this thing. We’re soldiers of Satan now." 
And there are other reasons to suspect Berkowitz didn't act alone, including the suspicious deaths of his alleged accomplices not long after his arrest (cough, star chamber, cough):  
And yet, enough suspicious coincidence swirls around the case to give pause. Soon after David’s arrest, John and Michael Carr both died mysterious deaths, one an unsolved murder, the other possibly a suicide.
Even the Queens district attorney at the time believed David didn’t act alone. In talking with me, David doesn’t deny his involvement with the Carr brothers. Officially, a police investigation is still open...
The Son of Sam traumatized New York City during a time of blackouts and bankruptcy. It would set the stage for the massive expansion of the NYPD and their powers, which only grew in the Crack Years.

But the Zodiac Killer paved the way. So much so that an analog would be featured in Clint Eastwood's 1971 law and order manifesto, Dirty Harry.

Who also carried a .44 caliber.

But the national trauma sweepstakes wouldn't be truly complete until 1969, when all those flower children suddenly didn't seem so flowery....

UPDATE: Siskel and Ebert from 1980, when mainstream theaters were deluged with slasher sludge. They differentiate the exploitation pictures from Halloween and explore the sick impulses behind the trend. Here's part one. 

UPDATE: Read "Martin Luther King assassinated by US Govt: King Family civil trial verdict"


Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter, 'Tunguska', The X-Files