Lucifer Rising (partially found original versions of experimental short film; 1966-1967; 1973)
1967 poster promoting the first Lucifer Rising cut.
Status: 1966-1967 footage - Partially Found / Jimmy Page cut - Found
Lucifer Rising is an experimental short film directed by Kenneth Anger. A cut was initially completed in 1973 featuring a soundtrack from Jimmy Page, though a full release would not occur until 1980. However, it is known that an earlier version of the film had been in production since 1966. The original version, featuring future Manson Family member and murderer Bobby Beausoleil, went uncompleted as Beausoleil allegedly stole much of the footage in 1967 and had it buried in the Californian desert. However, Beausoleil and his supporters contest that the supposed footage never actually existed. Additionally, the Page cut of the film was also considered lost for three decades, having only received a limited release during the 1970s.
Lucifer Rising features Marianne Faithfull as the goddess Lilith, with the narrative depicting the summoning of dark angel Lucifer (portrayed by Leslie Huggins) by Egyptian gods, with the intent to establish a new occult age. Said occult age reflected the values of the Ordo Templi Orientis, an actual occult greatly influenced by Aleister Crowley and of which had indoctrinated Anger as a member. Beginning production in 1966, Lucifer Rising was conceptualised in response to growing 1960s counterculture movements. However, there were various issues throughout filming. For instance, Faithfull accused Anger of hypnotising her into doing actions against her consent. Anger however contested that Faithfull was experiencing heroin addiction, and had even smuggled the drug into Egypt, risking serious legal trouble if caught. Another concern the film had involved the casting of Lucifer, who was less an evil deity and more so based on Crowley's depictions of him as a disobediant yet heroic being. Having lived at Westerfeld House in San Francisco nicknamed "The Russian Embassy", Anger invited numerous young men to stay around, even offering those that stayed long-term the role of Lucifer.
However, Anger found his desired actor for Lucifer while attending the Invisible Circus featuring The Diggers and The Bay Area Sexual Freedom League. At the event, he encountered a young Bobby Beausoleil, who was performing for his band The Orkustra. Anger was highly impressed by Beausoleil, and upon visiting him at a car park post-performance, exclaimed to him "You are Lucifer!". Initially confused by Anger's statement, the young musician eventually opted to replace another man in line for the role, while also deciding to live with the eccentric filmmaker at the Russian Embassy. This was done as part of a deal where any living expenses Beausoleil accumulated were paid for, in exchange for the musician receiving no income for his performance. The film would not be his debut into acting, as he previously appeared in pornographic works like Ramrodder and the documentary Mondo Hollywood. His dedicated involvement in Lucifer Rising alienated his relationships with fellow Orkustra members, leading to the band's breakup. Nevertheless, Beausoleil quickly established the jazz group The Magick Powerhouse of Oz, before successfully convincing Anger that they could produce a viable soundtrack for the film.
The Alleged Stolen Footage
Filming initially started smoothly in 1966, with Beausoleil featuring a few scenes, one of which depicted him weightlifting. Alas, Beausoleil's relationship with Anger would also deteriorate overtime. The young musician claimed Anger's homosexuality and his heterosexuality brought personal conflict, but the pair would also clash on the film's production. Particularly, while Anger appreciated Beausoleil's proposed soundtrack, he felt the musician became too demanding with his ideas for the film. In contrast, Beausoleil became increasingly annoyed with the slow production, something Anger's investors were also questioning.
Finally, the two completely split following a disastrous event called the Equinox of the Gods, held to raise additional funds for the film's production. Held at The Straight Theater, the event featured a performance by The Magick Powerhouse of Oz, as well as showcasing footage from Lucifer Rising. Anger also performed a magick ritual, which was compromised by technical issues and Anger taking LSD before the performance. In a compromised state, Anger ended up breaking a cane, inadvertently causing shards of it to wound an editor for the San Francisco Oracle.
Beausoleil claimed he finally had enough following this incident, and departed from the Russian Embassy in September 1967. Anger in contrast recalled kicking out Beausoleil when he discovered a kilogram of marijuana the musician purchased with Anger's own money. While he insisted that he merely took his personal belongings with him, Beausoleil was swiftly accused by Anger of not only stealing his possessions, but also four reels totalling 1,600 feet of footage for Lucifer Rising. The reels were allegedly taken from a locked trunk dwelling within the Straight Theater. It was not the only alleged robbery Anger faced, as he also lost a Bolex camera at his apartment days later. Anger also accused Straight Theater's Reg Williams of the theft, which the latter denied.
Despite placing underground newspaper advertisements demanding the safe return of the reels, they have ultimately been left unaccounted for. Anger remains adamant that someone, possibly Beausoleil, either destroyed the reels or eventually buried them somewhere within the Californian desert. It should be noted Beausoleil not only denied stealing the reels, but also alleged no such additional footage even existed. He claims Anger's theft accusations were merely to placate his investors that significant production had been achieved, and that in reality, only some test footage was completed within the available budget prior to Beausoleil leaving the project.
Outraged by the chain of events, Anger promoted in an October 1967 issue of Village Voice his "death", with the declaration "IN MEMORIAM. KENNETH ANGER. FILMMAKER 1947–1967". This culminated in Anger burning some of works before departing for the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Beausoleil left San Francisco and began living with music teacher Gary Hinman in Topanga Canyon. It would not be long before he met Charles Manson, apparently after his van broke down not far from the Spahn Movie Ranch. Manson had recently been released from federal prison and had begun developing a cult that consisted primarily of young girls and women. Beausoleil would soon become integral to the Manson Family, spending considerable time at the Family's Spahn Ranch, bonding with Manson over their love for music, women, and sex. One account alleged the two held the stolen Lucifer Rising footage and demanded a $10,000 ransom, which Anger refused to pay out for. The footage presumably went missing following the failed demand.
On 25th July 1969, Beausoleil visited Hinman, with him accompanied by fellow Manson Family members Susan Atkins and Mary Brunner. The motive surrounding this visit is disputed, though the main theories speculate it was over money from a failed drug deal to Hinman allegedly inheriting a considerable fortune that Manson wanted a share of. Regardless, the visit ended with the torture and murder of Hinman, whose body was discovered six days afterwards. Manson apparently contributed to the torture, slicing one of Hinman's ears off with a samurai sword. Beausoleil then later stabbed Hinman to death, later claiming he did so to avoid Hinman outing him to police. Another theory suggests Manson wanted Hinman murdered with the intent to trigger a race war, ordering Beausoleil to frame it as if black revolutionaries caused the murder. Evidence supporting this includes some of Hinman's blood being used to write "Political piggy" and to draw a Black Panthers symbol on a wall nearby.
Stealing Hinman's Fiat, Beausoleil fell asleep in it after the car broke down. Police suddenly apprehended him on 6th August, discovering the knife used to kill Hinman. Days later, other Manson Family members, including Atkins, would carry out the Tate-LaBianca murders, which some theorise were carried out to convince police they had not actually captured Hinman's killer. Beausoleil, in part thanks to a testimony from Brunner, was convicted for the torture and murder of Hinman, and was initially sentenced to death, reduced to life in prison once the death penalty was removed in California. To this day, Beausoleil remains incarcerated, with 20 attempts for parole over the years being denied by respective Governors of California.
Lucifer Rising's Completion
Surprisingly, Beausoleil's involvement with Lucifer Rising did not end after 1967. Now living in London, Anger released Invocation of My Demon Brother, an 11-minute film contained surviving footage from the original Lucifer Rising cut. Obtaining financial backing from German television company NDR, the UK's National Film Finance Corporation, and the US' National Endowment for the Arts, he set about re-creating the film, shooting scenes in London, Germany, and Egypt. Initially, Anger wanted Jagger to portray Lucifer, but while Jagger was happy to record a soundtrack for the film, opted not to star in it. Instead, he recommended the services of his brother Chris. Alas, relations between Anger and the Jaggers deteriorated, leading to various altercations and Anger firing Chris following another argument. Eventually, Anger settled on Leslie Huggins, and filming slowly commenced over the decade. He also struck a deal with Led Zeppelin musician Jimmy Page to produce a third soundtrack for the troubled work, the soundtrack lasting for a total of 23 minutes. This also attracted conflict, as Anger lambasted Page for apparently taking three years to produce a "droning" soundtrack lasting that was inadequate in length for a 28-minute film.
Anger nevertheless mostly completed the film in 1973, occasionally showcasing part of the film with Page's soundtrack throughout the decade. A version titled Lucifer Rising, Part 1 was also made available to help raise funds for more development. However, upon hearing of Page leaving the project, Beausoleil expressed interest in composing yet another soundtrack for Lucifer Rising in a letter he wrote to Anger. Eventually, both made an agreement at Tracy Prison, with Beausoleil establishing the Freedom Orchestra consisting of himself and other inmates harnessing instruments and equipment they acquired from a prison teacher. In 1980, Beausoleil released the Lucifer Rising soundtrack, lasting 44 minutes. Ecstatic with the work, Anger incorporated it into his film and finally fully released it in December that same year. The relationship between the pair improved following this, with Anger later dropping the original theft accusations against Beausoleil and instead claiming some unknown youths were responsible for the reels' disappearance. In later interviews, Anger expressed belief Beausoleil would have led a much different life had he not met Manson.
The status of the original Lucifer Rising cut depends greatly on which side was being truthful with their account. If Anger did indeed produce four 400-feet reels of footage, their survival status remains completely unclear, as they were either destroyed or buried in the Californian desert by Beausoleil and/or Manson, or are in the possession of unidentified individuals. If Beausoleil's account is to be believed, no such footage ever existed. The only confirmed remnants of the original cut were included in the 1969 film Invocation of My Demon Brother, which has since been made viewable on YouTube. A photo featuring Beausoleil in the original cut has also resurfaced.
Interestingly, the supposed lost footage from the original cut was not the only missing Lucifer Rising cut. The version featuring Page's soundtrack received only a limited release, with approximately four copies known to have existed by the mid-1980s. It then became forgotten for about three decades. The film would not be seen again in public until March 2009, when a VHS rip was suddenly made available for download via torrent. Another cut was discovered by Brian Butler in April 2014 while searching through Anger's archive, discovering the footage that was misplaced in an unlabelled box many years previously. This early cut, described as "The holy grail of lost films" according to Cinespia, has since been uploaded to YouTube, and contains footage that was removed in the final cut. In March 2012, it was reported Page would not only release his uncut Lucifer Rising soundtrack titled Lucifer Rising and Other Sound Tracks, but also worked to fully complete it and produce it in a remixed format. Original and remastered versions can now be listened to on YouTube.
- Charles Manson's letters to Leslie Van Houten (lost prison letters from Manson Family leader to follower; 2013)
- The Commune (lost Manson family-inspired film; 1970)
- Completion (unreleased Charles Manson album; 1984)
- Leslie Van Houten's sexual letter relationship (lost letter communication between Manson Family member and unknown double murderer; pre-2016)
- The Manson Massacre (partially found original English version of horror film; 1971)
- Untitled Charles Manson Project (unreleased recordings; late 1960s)
- Open Screen Journals providing a analysis of the film itself and documenting its troubled production. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- The Guardian where Anger reflected his time on producing the film, and his relationship with Beausoleil. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- 366 Weird Movies providing key facts on Lucifer Rising. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Pleasure of Past Times detailing the strange production of the film, including the stolen footage, and four different soundtracks. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Anger: The Unauthorized Biography of Kenneth Anger providing a detailed account into the filming of Lucifer Rising. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- The Lineup summarising the Ordo Templi Orientis. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Bobby Beausoleil's account of filming for Lucifer Rising. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Venetian Vase summarising Beausoleil's life, crimes, and his roles in Lucifer Rising. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- All That's Interesting documenting Beausoleil's film career, and descent into crime. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Sinister Forces: The Manson Secret detailing the conflicting Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- The Exploding Eye summarising the various thefts, and Anger's advertisements pleading for their return Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Charlesmanson.com documenting the life and murder of Hinman. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- All That's Interesting documenting the murder of Hinman and theorises surrounding it. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship & Rock'n'Roll summarising the Manson and Beausoleil ransom rumour and the latter rekindling his friendship with Anger. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Rolling Stone detailing the murder of Hinman and noting the Tate-LaBianca murders copycat theory. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Daily Mail reporting on Beausoleil being denied parole for the 20th time. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Something Else! reporting on Page's soundtrack seeing a public release. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- KCET reporting on Butler rediscovering the original Page cut of the film. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Peromyscus reporting that the Page-cut of the film had been made downloadable by torrent. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Prog Archives page on Beausoleil's Lucifer Rising soundtrack. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship & Rock'n'Roll summarising the main theory surrounding the lost footage and providing a photo from the original cut. Retrieved 14th Apr '23
- Cinespia reporting on the recovered Page cut of the film. Retrieved 14th Apr '23