The Wormwood Star


I’ve waited about 20 years to see this one, after first learning of it via a Curtis Harrington interview in Michael Weldon’s Psychotronic magazine in the 1990s. The Wormwood Star (1956) is a 10-minute study of the occult art and witchy persona of Harrington’s friend Marjorie Cameron (1922–1995), best known these days for her memorable incarnation as the Scarlet Woman in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), a film in which Harrington also appeared. With her flame-red hair, green eyes and basilisk gaze, Cameron (as she preferred to be called) would have made an impression wherever she landed. Her presence in Anger’s film is so striking that stills of her face have often been used to stand for the entire Magick Lantern Cycle.


In The Wormwood Star Harrington ramps up the mystique with oblique shots and at least half the running time given to Cameron’s strange drawings and paintings. The subtitle, “Concerning the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” harks back to the 1940s and her husband, Jack Parsons, a rocket researcher and, for a time, the American head of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis. Harrington later gave Cameron a wordless role as the “Water Witch” in his low-budget horror film, Night Tide (1961), where she drifts around Venice Beach looking suitably mysterious. Night Tide is out-of-copyright so can be watched in full at YouTube. The Wormwood Star appeared on a Curtis Harrington DVD only last month which is no doubt where this copy originates. It may not stick around so watch it while you can.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Street Fair, 1959
House of Harrington
Curtis Harrington, 1926–2007
The art of Cameron, 1922–1995
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

4 thoughts on “The Wormwood Star”

  1. Yes, thank you very much. I really enjoyed Night Tide when I caught a late night showing of it on TCM a few years ago. It came on right after Night of the Iguana…I’m sure there’s some odd significance behind that juxtaposition. (Aside from them both being set beside the ocean.)

    Did anyone read the biography of Cameron, also titled “Wormwood Star,” that was published a few years ago?

  2. So glad that you posted this! I’ve been wondering if someone would post it on youtube. I watched it twice last night… captivated by Cameron.

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