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The Profit

Year: 2001
Production Co: Courage Productions
Director: Peter N Alexander
Writer: Peter N Alexander

Proof censorship doesn't work. The only reason to watch this so-bad-it-must-be-3am movie is because it's a sideswipe at the Church of Scientology. They promptly got it banned and gave a movie with cheesy dialogue and soap opera-ish charcters instant underground cred where it might otherwise have been completely forgotten.

Don't believe a word you read about how it's a satire on 'religion' rather than the life of L Ron Hubbard. The cleverly-named (not) Leland Conrad Powers is an army officer when he comes across a strange cult that operates in the genteel suburbs of California in the 1950s. Insinuating himself into the life of the cult leader, he appears to steal the demonic power being wielded (along with the man's wife), but that's the end of the supernatural element.

Going from strength to strength, the charismatic, square-jawed anti-hero establishes a dubious mode of thought called iMind which is soon revealed to be a scam. He uses shady private detectives to cover up any wrongdoing and deflect blame and creates a church instead, supported by armies of followers who pay him a fortune, a pseudo-scientific technology and a huge yacht he ends up spending most of his time on to escape tax evasion and fraud (attended to by scantily clad teenage girls, as Hubbard is said to have been).

Descending into paranoia and isolating everyone around him, he ends up a defiant but wholly crazy figure, entrenched in his great con with powerful lawyers and crooked minions dispatched from every side to do his bidding. Sound familiar?

It's worth seeing for the dig some brave filmmakers were willing to put into one of the most powerful and notoriously litigious institutions in the world rather than for any kind of creative merit.

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