Satanis: The Devil’s Mass (1970)

aka Satanis
Article 2653 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-15-2008
Posting Date: 11-17-2008
Directed by Ray Laurent
Featuring Anton LaVey, Isaac Bonewits, Diane LaVey
Country: USA

This documentary takes a look at Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan.

One of the aspects of the same year’s documentary on witchcraft, WITCHCRAFT ’70, is that it also features footage from Anton LaVey’s black masses; the commentator in that movie couldn’t help but notice how lifeless and dull these ceremonies were. This documentary gives us ample Anton LaVey black mass footage to chew on, and… well, I have to agree with the commentator of the other film. You’d think that a ceremony that involves naked women dancing with snakes would hold the interest, but, sadly, this sequence is interminable and interminably dull. Part of the problem is that everyone looks bored; the worshipers, the naked women, even LaVey himself, though I can’t speak for the snake. It also doesn’t help that the perpetually moving camera during these scenes seems unable to focus on anything, or that some of costumes are (in a word) silly, especially that devil-mask with the horns. In between, we get interviews with LaVey, the worshipers, and neighbors. To me, very little of interest was said by anyone; the most interesting part of the movie is when it turns to the subject of LaVey’s pet lion. With its plentiful nudity, it was no doubt a sensation in its day. Still, for a dull documentary on a potentially interesting subject, I will give the movie one big point; it saves the most telling comment made in the various interviews for the last line of the movie, as this one line manages to put into perspective much of what we’ve seen. It’s best viewed as a curio.



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