A sub-division of oldpunks.com

Monday, November 28, 2005

Review: Anton LaVey - Speak Of The Devil VHS

Speak Of the Devil came out in 1993 but uses so much old and beat up footage it looks like something from 1967. The title cards and effects are cheap enough to evoke grindhouse films of yore. This 89 minute self-promotion reel from Church Of Satan founder Anton LaVey is interesting mostly as a study of what his daughter Zeena describes as"a notorious figure of the 1960s' subculture of social experiment". It's a cult of personality where the leader is goofy beyond belief, and you can't watch this and not think Anton himself knows he's a light-hearted scam artist of middling success.

On the other hand, Zeena and her husband with the obvious fake name of Nikolas Schreck run their own Satan-based group, which claims her father's take on it was insincere and carny. There are also accusations of animal cruelty, domestic violence and sexual perversion that for all I know may have touched Zeena in more ways than one. It's obvious she thinks her father was evil, and not the good kind of evil either.

If Hollywood made a film on the life of Anton LaVey it might have the same vibe as Ed Wood. Here's a shlub fascinated with cheap novelty gags and carnivals who created a persona for himself that's too campy and cheap to be taken seriously. He chose "Satan" as a hook but what he was really about seems to be Paganism, Ayn Rand's Objectivism, 60's free love and a geek love of noir campiness.

If Zeena's stories are true I have no sympathy for Anton, but in Speak Of The Devil he comes across sincerely as a lovable, lonely, introverted, animal loving nerd who builds his own mannequins to sit in the bar area of his home, which he calls his "Den Of Iniquity", and loves nothing more than sitting at the pipe organ playing midway tunes. A surprisingly halting and boring speaker, he waxes semi-poetic on his love of the sea and of jobs he may or may not have actually held. The Johnson Smith gag catalogs of his youth may have been the turning point in his life that led him to create Satanism.

What to make of his invocation to Satan for "civility, understanding, tranquility, compassion, vengeance, sensuality, love and triumph", or when he says "Death is not a flattering thing." He comes across as the last guy you'd consider evil. He looks like he needs a hug. The film contains interviews with two young priests in the Church Of Satan, and they come across as angry and hateful. Anton, on the other hand, is more like a an adult child.

Anton Szandor LaVey was born Harold Stanton Levey in 1930. He died in 1997. He named his children Karla Maritza, Zeena Galatea and Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey.


Post a Comment

<< Home