I understand that Satanis is supposed to be viewed as camp since its video and DVD distributor is Something Weird and not Criterion. And furthermore, this documentary about Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey is plagued with the typical problems – mainly there are too many talking heads and it’s boring as fuck – but, if a documentary’s primary purpose is to inform and teach you something you didn’t know, then it certainly accomplished that.
I don’t take Satanism any more seriously than voodoo, white magic, black magic or witchcraft. I throw them all in the same juvenile pot of goofiness that serves as a bit of fun on Halloween (or hell, any time!) and that’s about it. And I’m assuming my ultra hip, post modern friends feel the same way. However, I’m not everybody and henceforth, it’s come to my understanding that real Satanic cults have actually murdered people and there were those church burnings in Norway from the black metal kids (yeah, I know they’re not Satanists. They’re Odinists). And then I saw this:
If you didn’t watch the clip, basically, Anton LaVey’s daughter Zeena and her husband or fiance Nicholas Schreck are self proclaimed Satanists and Social Darwinists; they apparently held a faux-fascist rally in which they watched the video of the Tate-Labianca murders and they rationalize the Holocaust as a reaction against the Judeo-Christian influence on modern society. And I thought; is this what Anton LaVey taught them?
NO, NO and NO again!!!
Initially, when I saw Anton LaVey’s photograph, I pictured him as a humorless “intellectual” who speaks really slowly and tries to be philosophical. But nothing could be further from the truth! In spite of his “evil” demeanor, he’s a jolly, slightly overweight guy who talks about the Church of Satan and his beliefs like you would talk about the football game! I mean, he’s right isn’t he? The Christian church makes you feel guilty for having premarital sex or being a homosexual. And he stands against that. All of his followers are hippie weirdos who enjoy a good ol’ romp in the sack and hanging out in dimly lit rooms. And their attitudes are very liberal; quite the opposite of those held by his daughter and Nicholas Schreck. At first I thought, “what got lost in translation?” Then I realized: Zeena LaVey isn’t very smart.
Like I said, the documentary is very boring. Out of 86 minutes, at least 30 could have been cut. There is just too much talking! But some of LaVey’s buddies sure are fun! There are a couple of queers, an adorable old lady who blatantly proclaims “I hate bigotry in all its forms” and what I think is a lady but looks like Mick Jagger with saggy boobs. And I know this because she/it did her/its interviews naked.
On the plus side we get to see inside a Satanic mass which did not include the spilling of goats blood or live human sacrifices. Instead the mass scenes included Anton LaVey wearing a hat with devil horns, some people wearing funny Halloween masks, a few naked people leaning up against an inverted pentagram and a few folks chanting their gibberish as the proceedings went on. Some of them even looked a little embarrassed on camera. There’s also a segment addressing the story of when LaVey adopted a baby lion; “it was cute at first since it was like a big cat but those things grow up.” Hahahaha!!!
The funniest segments, however, were the interviews with LaVey’s neighbors. All of them treat him and his “church” as a case of an overgrown manchild living in a world of his own creation. Also, why can’t he cut his damn lawn? It’s too funny.
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