5 Scorching Scorpio Movies for the Month Ahead
See you on the other side!
Every year on Valentine’s Day, people get together to celebrate romance. Nine months later, a bunch of Scorpios are born. I’m definitely not saying that Scorpios are an Illuminati-like cabal of shadowy influencers who have, among other things, invented a holiday purely to perpetuate their dark reign, but I also wouldn’t put it past them. Look, even if you don’t believe in astrology even a little bit, you have to admit: You notice when someone tells you they’re a Scorpio. Even the word itself exudes a fierce sensuality. It’s evocative. If a Libra has charm, then a Scorpio has charisma.
Think about what’s going on outside right now: The leaves are falling, the air is colder, and the days are getting shorter and darker. As we celebrate Halloween, our thoughts turn to all things macabre, we relish in images of death and decay, and we genuinely indulge the voluptuous sensation of fear. But to write off the complexities of Scorpio season by ending things there does this sign a huge injustice.
Scorpios are ruled by Pluto, celestial embodiment of death, rebirth, the subconscious, and the “iceberg beneath the surface.” What gets them up in the morning is the deep stuff, the dark stuff, the taboo stuff and the potent stuff. They see through your social niceties and know exactly who you are within two seconds of meeting you (sorry). Like avant-garde fashion designer Rick Owens, or Cubist painter Pablo Picasso, they’re often the kind of trendsetters who don’t seem to care what you think. They also don’t much care for small talk. And they’re so incredibly, stupidly, nakedly magnetic that all it takes for you to melt is a simple “Hey, girl...” or a well-timed “all right, all right, all right.” Both Drive and True Detective, by the way, are high on the list of Scorpio honorable mentions.
As directors, these fixed water signs aren’t as common as auteurs of other astrological persuasions, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective: Consider Martin Scorsese’s unwavering intensity, or Ang Lee’s emotional electricity, or Sam Raimi’s shocking sensibilities, or even Morgan Spurlock’s utter willingness to put his body on the line. Actually, one could argue that cinema’s very relationship to death and desire makes it an inherently Plutonian medium. That would mean that all movies are on some level Scorpio movies, but some are way more Scorpio than others. And these five are, for various reasons, more Scorpio than most — so enjoy, and remember: What doesn’t kill you...makes you stranger.
Sylvia dir. Christine Jeffs, 2003
This recommendation is about establishing the “Scorpio Difference.” What exactly is the “Scorpio Difference”? Let’s put it this way: Gwyneth Paltrow is a very good actress and she certainly looks the part of the doomed poet Sylvia Plath, bless her heart, but she’s a classic, textbook Libra. And that’s why none of us can truly believe in her portrayal of the Scorpio queen and author of The Bell Jar, among many other brilliant, evocative, and brutal written works. Can Paltrow deliver a classic Plath line like “I eat men like air,” and convince us? With all due respect to director Christine Jeffs (who also helmed one of my Virgo season picks, Sunshine Cleaning), the answer is “not really.” That’s the Scorpio Difference.
Heathers dir. Michael Lehmann, 1989
Pop quiz: Whose “teen angst bullsh*t,” as unlikely heroine Veronica Sawyer puts it in Heathers, is most likely to have a body count, astrologically speaking? That would be Scorpio, hands-down, no room for argument. You do not want to be on these folks’ bad side. They don’t even really care what you do to them — but when you start messing with the people they care about, well, it’s over for y’all. Thank you for coming to my Scorpio TED talk.
Like a stinger primed to stab, Heathers positively drips with venom. It’s a movie (literally) about explosive romance and righteous vengeance, and that’s all very, very Scorpio. But it’s also a movie about going through hell and coming out the other side, bloody and smoking (and smokin’), which is honestly about as Scorpio as it gets. Veronica’s astrology is unknown, but she is portrayed by none other than Winona Ryder, whose birthday just happens to be later this month. Now just for fun, imagine Ryder next to Gwyneth Paltrow for a minute. Are you seeing what I’m saying?
The Wait dir. M. Blash, 2013
In the wake of their mother’s death, a family’s grieving is disrupted by an unexpected phone call and an even less expected promise: resurrection. Double Scorpios Chloë Sevigny and Jena Malone play sisters who are forced to grapple with this news and its implications. They are plunged into destabilizing and dreamlike between-ness throughout which no-one, least of all the audience, has a handle on exactly what’s possible or even real. All of this to say, The Wait’s Plutonian energy is so heavy it could crack the metaphorical floorboards! While the symbol for Scorpio is (obviously) the scorpion, it’s a little-known fact that, like a Pokémon, Scorpio actually has seven forms, and its final form is a phoenix risen from the ashes. You can’t have rebirth without death — no pain, no gain.
Watch Now: You actually don’t have to wait, because The Wait is available for instant streaming on Fandor.
The Fly dir. David Cronenberg, 1986
Director David Cronenberg is the king of — well, some would call it body horror, but for the purposes of our current astrology, we’ll call it metamorphosis. Sometimes, metamorphosis is beautiful, like a brightly-colored butterfly fluttering majestically out of a cocoon, or a snake smoothly slithering out of its own skin. And sometimes, it’s really painful and disgusting and hard to watch. Guess which one this is?
As the eccentric yet beguiling inventor Seth Brundle, who will settle for nothing less than changing the world, Jeff “Zaddy” Goldblum rants about “penetration beyond the veil of the flesh” and “insect politics” — you know, just Scorpio things — as he gradually transforms into a monstrous, abject, trans-human hybrid who can liquefy people with his saliva. Scorpio energy isn’t afraid to embrace the horror or step into its power. It welcomes being turned inside-out for the purposes of evolution. It metaphorically embraces the intimidating, defensive carapace of an exoskeleton, and the hot liquid guts inside. This is why Scorpios always give off a distinct quality of “I’ve seen some sh*t:” They have.
Closer dir. Mike Nichols, 2004
Whoever first asked, “How well can you ever really know a person?” was likely a Scorpio, and it’s not clear whether or not they were being rhetorical. “Scorpionic” romance, as you might imagine, is not a walk in the park. As Khaela Maricich croons in her band The Blow’s Scorpio anthem, “The Love That I Crave,” “The love of my dreams is the stuff of my nightmares/When I wake up in screams, that’s how I’ll know that I really care.” What does this have to do with Closer? Well, it’s basically a masterclass in Scorpios at their worst: obsessive, manipulative, secretive, paranoid weapons of mass seduction. Closer reminds us that someone who both offers and craves passion, connection, and consuming attraction could blow into your life like an emotional maelstrom, practically demanding your intimacy and vulnerability, at any time. And then, one day, you’ll realize that they never even told you their real name! It’s so cold that it’s hot, and that’s how you know: Scorpio.