This December HBO Max is exploring one of the most shocking cults in American history. Today, the streaming service released the official trailer for Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults. All four episodes of the docuseries will be made available on December 3.
When you think of religious cults, Heaven’s Gate is likely one of the first that comes to mind. Based near San Diego, the religious organization was led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The cult believed that the Earth was destined to be destroyed and recycled before 2027. The only way members could survive was to kill themselves at a certain time, thereby abandoning their human bodies but saving their consciousness. It was then believed that their consciousness would be allowed onboard a spaceship connected to the Hale-Bopp Comet that would take them to heaven, which was also referred to as “the next level.” This elaborate belief system centered around aliens led to a deeply depressing tragedy.
Applewhite convinced his followers that the only path to salvation was to kill themselves before the passage of the Hale-Bopp Comet. Over the course of three days in March of 1997, 39 members of Heaven’s Gate took phenobarbital mixed with apple sauce or pudding and ended their lives.
HBO Max’s upcoming docuseries will offer a more personal view of this chilling UFO cult. Told through the testimonies of the cult’s former members and their loved ones, the upcoming series will offer never-before-seen footage and first-person accounts. The docuseries is directed and executive produced by Clay Tweel. The HBO Max, CNN Original Studios, and Campfire joint project is also executive produced by Campfire CEO Ross Dinerstein; Shannon Riggs, Amy Entelis, and Lyle Gamm for CNN Original Studios; and Chris Bannon, Eric Spiegelman, Peter Clowney, and Erik Diehn from Stitcher. If you’re a diehard true crime fan, those last few names may ring a bell. Stitcher is the podcasting company that created the Heaven’s Gate podcast in 2018.
All four episodes of Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults will be available exclusively on HBO Max Thursday, December 3. But if you’re not an HBO Max subscriber yet that’s not a problem. The first episode will be available to stream for free on HBOMax.com/watch-free starting Friday, December 4 at 11/10c a.m. Check out the trailer above.