HBO Max will explore one of the nation’s most notorious cults in its new docu-series, “Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults.”
The series will examine the UFO cult led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The radical religious group was founded in 1975 after convincing 20 people in Oregon to abandon their lives and relocate as a group to eastern Colorado. Nettles and Applewhite convinced the group that an extraterrestrial spacecraft would transport them to the “kingdom of heaven.” The leaders promoted suicide, telling their followers that their bodies were mere “containers” that must be left behind to board the unreal alien spacecraft. The cult resurfaced in the early ’90s and began recruiting new members. Sometime between March 22 and March 26th, 1997, Applewhite and his 38 followers committed a group suicide by drinking a lethal concoction of phenobarbital and vodka to leave their bodily “containers” and enter the spacecraft. The bodies were located on March 26th inside a rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, where the group lived for months.
The series will take viewers through the cult’s wild crossbred Christian and alien ideologies. Former members and loved ones will explain the intense day-to-day operations of the cult. Never-before-seen footage will take viewers on a journey through the leader’s control tactics and how they led to mass suicide.
CNN and Campfire will produce the HBO Max Original. Clay Tweel will direct and executive produce the series. Campfire CEO Ross Dinerstein, Shannon Riggs, Chris Bannon, Eric Spiegelman, Peter Clowney, and Erik Diehn will also executive produce.
In the trailer for the clip, a male’s voice, seemingly a law enforcement agent, is heard calling in assistance for the nation’s largest mass suicide while archival footage of the Heaven’s Gate cult’s mansion plays in the background.
“Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults” will premiere on HBO Max later this year, though an exact date has not been announced.