Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults

Watch Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults

  • TV-MA
  • 2020
  • 1 Season
  • 7.2  (2,959)

Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults is a four-part docuseries available on HBO Max that delves into the elusive and infamous Heaven's Gate cult. The series revolves around interviews with former members of the cult, experts in the field of religious studies, family members of the deceased, and archival footage that sheds new light on the events that led to the group's ultimate demise in 1997.

The show follows the history and evolution of the cult, from its early days as a spiritual movement promoting ascension to a higher level of existence to its dramatic descent into mass suicide. The series offers a stark insight into how a group of people were able to abandon their lives, relationships, and personal identity in an attempt to transcend to a higher level of existence.

The cult was founded in the early 1970s by a man named Marshall Applewhite and his partner, Bonnie Nettles. The two claimed to be prophets and claimed that they were from a higher spiritual existence. They believed that the Earth would undergo significant changes and the only way to escape these transformations was through death and ascension to a higher plane.

The series examines the cult's methods of recruitment, isolation, and brainwashing of new members, and the role of technology in advancing their cause. The members were required to relinquish all worldly possessions, including their families and friends, and adopt a life of celibacy, fasting, and meditation.

The series explores how the group's ideology evolved over time, from a religious group focused on ascension to a more technological and business-savvy one, selling their message on video tape and exploiting the burgeoning online world. The cult became increasingly isolated from mainstream society, alienated from their families, and controlled by Applewhite, who was referred to as "Do" by his followers.

The docuseries is not limited to exploring the cult's history, as it also delves into the aftermath of the mass suicide. The series features interviews with family members, victims, and survivors who recount their experiences with the cult, the struggle to cope with the loss of loved ones, and the difficulty of moving forward from such a horrifying event.

Moreover, the series calls into question the balance between religious freedom and government intervention. The cult was openly declared illegal by the FBI, and they monitored the group for years. The series explores the FBI's role in the cult's ultimate fate, including their handling of the investigation after the mass suicide.

Janja Lalich, an expert in cults, and a former member of a cult herself, was one of the key interviews for the series. She offers insight into the psychology of a cult member and how they can become completely consumed by a group's ideology.

Robert Balch, a religious studies expert, is also featured in the series, and he provides commentary on the cult's religious framework and the extreme lengths that members were willing to go to in the name of their beliefs. Benjamin Zeller, another religious studies expert, examines the cultural context that led to the formation and popularity of the cult.

In conclusion, Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults is a fascinating and comprehensive look at one of the most notorious cults in American history. The series is both thought-provoking and emotionally gripping, offering new insights into the cult, its members, and the events that led to their ultimate downfall. It's a must-watch for anyone interested in religious groups and cults or interested in delving into a tragedy that shook the world.

Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (4 episodes). The series first aired on December 3, 2020.

Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults
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The Exit
4. The Exit
December 3, 2020
The 1997 arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet spurs the group to prepare for their departure, though their plan to commit mass suicide goes undetected. After an anonymous 911 caller alerts the authorities, Heaven’s Gate, deemed the first "internet cult," becomes a media and pop culture phenomenon - but the suicides have a very different effect on those closest to them. Today, former members, loved ones, and experts reflect on the legacy of Heaven’s Gate, offering a chilling reminder that indoctrination can happen to anyone.
The Second Harvest
3. The Second Harvest
December 3, 2020
Using a popular sci-fi TV series to help bolster his teachings, Do encourages asexuality and individual submission for the benefit of the collective - and even initiates voluntary castrations. Having dwindled in number, the group starts recruiting again, but they’re met largely with derision and skepticism. Seeing this as a sign, Do begins planning their exit to the next level.
The Chrysalis
2. The Chrysalis
December 3, 2020
As the Heaven’s Gate "Classroom" begins, Bonnie and Marshall - who call themselves "Ti" and "Do" or "The Two" - enforce strict rules of no family communication. After Ti dies from cancer in 1985, a distraught Do briefly allows members to visit their families, and a few consider leaving the group for good. When the members return, Do becomes much more controlling - and opens the door to group suicide.
The Awakening
1. The Awakening
December 3, 2020
March 1997. Thirty-nine members of the Heaven's Gate cult are found dead in a Southern California mansion - the largest mass suicide in U.S. history. The inception of this mysterious group dates back to 1970s Oregon, where founding members Bonnie Nettles and Marshall Applewhite begin to recruit individuals interested in end-of-the-world Christianity, new age religion, and UFOs - but the disappearance of new members soon drives media attention and family concerns.
Where to Watch Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults
Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults is available for streaming on the HBO Max website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults on demand at Max and Amazon Prime.
  • Premiere Date
    December 3, 2020
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (2,959)