There are truly wheels within wheels -- although this film has shed some light on Smithee's oeuvre, it still raises more questions than it answers. For instance, his shunning by the Hollywood mainstream, which here finds its allegorical voice in Smithee's daring denunciation of Scientology (suffice it to say that Smithee will not be directing any of Tom Cruise's upcoming vehicles). Pare plays a thinly-disguised L Ron Hubbard who is not only trying to bring about a one-world socialist dictatorship, but is in fact in league with the devil (conjuring the evil one up to kill a right-wing senator prone to ranting about the "New World Order" at one point). At one point Pare/Hubbard says "Don't you think it would be better for a few troublemakers to die than for the whole world to suffer?" A truly chilling indictment.
I had heard rumours of Smithee's involvement and subsequent falling out with that branch of the O.T.O. centred around the jet propulsion lab in Pasadena (where he may have met Hubbard personally). I had just not expected it to find such striking allegorical voice. Perhaps some of my colleagues could further enlighten me.....
Oh, and Al, thanks for reminding me about SLEEP WITH THE DEVIL. Had you not done so, the reference would have just passed me by.
I recall a FILM COMMENT piece detailing the director's early days at Oxford. It seems he was quite taken with a young man taken to wearing violet nehru jackets and Eye-of-Horus earrings whilst parading down Carnaby Street on weekends.
The young man was Luca Crowley (and the true inspiration for the Suzanne Vega song of the same name, BTW), and Smithee formed a near-homo-erotic bond with this flamboyant character.
Often, night would find the two doping up sqatters (some say his problem with Karen Black originated here), taking them to Luca's bizarre manse, and spraying them with an odious concoction made of equal parts goat blood, Pymms cup, and seltzer. Then the victims would be trussed up by their knees (it was Luca's belief that the soul was located in the knee). At this point, reports differ wildly. What is know for certain, is that one night Luca went to far, and Smithee ended up running through a particularly humid summer night, awash in weird red goop, screaming about the goddesss Kali and Oscar Wilde, until taken into protective custody by baffled bobbied.
That fall, Smithee moved to Florida, and began studying cinema at Oshogee U.
To this day, he refuses to speak of those times, though the image of the goat is a ubiquitous one in the Smithee canon, always signyfying Evil in its most loathsome incarnation.
At least from his POV.