Heaven's Gate links to Hollywood | EW.com


Heaven's Gate links to Hollywood

We explore some of the San Diego suicide cult's coincidental connections to pop culture

The very name has Hollywood overtones. ”Heaven’s Gate,” the most recent moniker used by the San Diego suicide cult, was also the title of a slightly less serious tragedy: the notorious 1980 mega-flop Michael Cimino movie starring Kris Kristofferson. A bizarre coincidence, to be sure, but that’s not pop culture’s only connection to the self-massacre discovered March 26. Herewith, a look at some others:

— A former cult member told CNN that the 1985 movie Cocoon had inspired the group to move to Galveston, Tex., where they bought a houseboat so they could go out and ”maybe be picked up.”

— Investigators found a list of approved and forbidden videos for the final week. Films that were allowed included Eddie, Chain Reaction, and The Frighteners. Among the verboten: Multiplicity, Goldeneye, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. According to ledgers, the members also recently went to see Secrets & Lies.

— Among the victims was Thomas Nichols, brother of Nichelle Nichols, better known as Star Trek’s Lieutenant Uhura.

— On CNN’s Capital Gang, panelist Mona Charen said the cult was strongly influenced by a tonal system of communication, a la Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

— San Diego medical examiner Brian Blackbourne observed that a picture of an alien that sat on the cult’s mantelpiece ”looked like The X-Files.”

— Two recent episodes of Fox’s dark thriller Millennium featured eerily familiar plots about cult suicide. A spokeswoman for Fox says there are no plans to rerun either episode any time soon. But, she adds, ”we haven’t set our summer schedule yet.”