A profile of Anton LaVey and the Satanic Church that he founded in San Francisco is presented through interviews - with Le Vay himself, congregants including his current (second) wife, Christian religious leaders and people who live in the neighborhood of the church - and sequences of church services. As Le Vay states indirectly that the church was created as a response to the repression of traditional Christian religions, the rituals of the services are steeped in Christian fundamentals. Despite the use of the term "Satan" and its general implications, Le Vay also states that the church is not built on evil, but rather embracing the sin, especially of the flesh, that is inherent within humans as opposed to Christian churches which try to hide and quash them. The congregants talk about what attracted them to the church, with a small subset talking about the connection to witchcraft. Religious leaders and Joe and Jane Public talk about what they can see of the church from the outside, ...Written by
[referring to a collection of macabre art objects in the church]
These, ah, do not imply in any way that we're the least bit eager to die or have any sort of Freudian death wish. On the contrary, these are constant reminders that death is around the corner and death doesn't present a better, ah, than what we have now world. Death presents a negation of many of the pleasures of the flesh and certainly most of them. And, ah, so we feel that the more things that can remind us of this, the more ...
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This film swings the doors to the early days of the Church of Satan (CoS) wide open and was, for quite some time, the only interview footage of Anton Szandor LaVey available. (Scenes from this film are still in use today in news specials and documentaries, often times used as propaganda by some groups to turn people FROM Satanism. Most of the humor in this film will not be seen by the audiences that these groups are trying to influence.)
This documentary interviews neighbors, friends and enemies of Anton LaVey and his church and helps shed some light (dark?) on origins of the philosophies that were codified in this unique religious movement. This ilm is not without it's tongue-in-cheek moments. During one of the opening scenes, one of a Satanic ritual, the participant's solemn mood is broken when the Priest of the ceremony (LaVey) says, "Okay, that's enough for that part." Perhaps it was the director's idea to show some incidental humor in the film.
One thing that will probably strike everybody as strange is the sense of humor shown throughout the film by most of the people that are interviewed. Satanists are often seen as dour, humorless folk, but, as Anton LaVey points out in the film, a person without a sense of humor is intolerable at worst, and doesn't make a good Satanist. Humor abounds and stands in stark contrast to the rituals.
Also seen, as noted before, are some of the enemies to LaVey's cause. There are interviews with Mormon missionaries and priests from the area and they are given a chance to voice their outrage towards this philosophy. This film is highly recommended as a documentary of a rather maligned religion. It can be a bit hard to find, but it is available.
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