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‘Deadly Cults’: Choose your own viewing horror

Dan Webster

In our house, a nightly movie viewing is more than mere ritual. Beside writing this blog, I — along with my wife, Mary Pat Treuthart and our partner Nathan Weinbender — produce a weekly movies-themed show for Spokane Public Radio.

Yes, the show was on hiatus for a few weeks, courtesy of the COVID-19 quarantine. But a couple of weeks ago we started recording new episodes, which are now being broadcast at a new time: noon on Thursdays. We've been assured that, some time in the future, the show will move back to its regular time slot of 6:30 p.m. Fridays.

In any event, the world moves on. And those of us fortunate enough to have places in which to live, some kind of internet access and the tools with which to get online, are still watching movies — not just by sorting through our DVD collections but by streaming through our various services.

One type of series that is popular in my house is Scandinavian noir, which can be accessed through a number of services. One we've watched the first season of is titled "Murder by the Lake," which is available through MHz Choice and about which I've already written.

But if you're into even more offbeat material, then you might want to check out the series "Deadly Cults." Broadcast on the cable channel Oxygen, and available through the Oxygen app or through iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and VUDU, the series — now in its second season — documents the genesis and ultimate demise of various cults.

The latest episode, which we watched Sunday night, involves the so-called Heaven's Gate religious group that committed ritual suicide — all 39 active members — in an upscale San Diego County home in 1997.

Yeah, I admit. This is barely above trash journalism. And sometimes I have to seek out Disney films to cleanse my mental palate after watching. That said, I've seen actual horror movies that proved to be less frightening.

And besides, finding something essentially harmless to be afraid of is a welcome relief from thinking about what potential horrors this pandemic holds — horrors that include the coronavirus itself but even more so some of the headline-making reactions to it.

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