Review of documentary ‘hail satan!’

Despite writing this not that long ago, Threadreadapp refused to unroll it, perhaps it was cursed by the Satanists, I really don’t know.

So Hail Satan turns out to be much like it shows in its trailer (above).  A completely uncritical look at ‘modern Satanism’.  In fact, it is more than uncritical, it’s fawning.  It’s a good metaphor for where the liberal left have gone wrong.  

First we see the Satanists desecrating the grave of the Westboro Baptist Church leader’s mother, cue a same-sex couple kissing over the gravestone, and the Satanic Temple’s leader getting his balls out on the headstone.  

Quirky music plays as it is explained that Anton LaVey was the forefather of the current movt.  Again no criticism of LaVey is attempted.  LaVey is shown making a rather bizarre comment about masturbation and we are back to current days Satanists. 

“You’re a satanist if you’re a rebel, whether you like it or not” says one of the many talking heads, some of whom are anonymous (though this anonymity is never explained).  Also, challenging authority and activism is satanic practice.  (Queer Theory alert.) 

One suspects the leader, Lucien Greaves, wears a cosmetic contact lens to make his eyes look weird.  The director, Penny Lane, isn’t going to ask him any hard ball questions so the most obvious (“what happened to your eye dude”) is never asked.  

The group decide to hold a Black Mass in Catholic Boston.  60,000 people turn up to protest their protest.  The Satanists whine that America is supposed to be secular, and finally are moved off public land to hold their Black Mass in an upstairs room of a Chinese restaurant.  

Then they want to put a goat-headed statue next to a Ten Commandment statue – a story which continues to be told undramatically throughout.  The Baphomet figure is accessorised to have a child either side, and of course it is necessary for them to use real children in the modelling of that statue.  

Then we meet Sadie Satanas, leader of a chapter, who states that “Christian privilege is a huge problem” as it “dictates what bathrooms I can use in some States”.  Satanas is a man. (Screenshot below from his Instagram account.)


The talking heads inarticulate why they were drawn to Satanism – they’re not really group people, they’re introspective, they had a religious upbringing, atheism is boring.  What they really mean is, they think they’re special and want a bit of excitement.  

Again, Lane isn’t going to throw them any hard ball questions, like why choose Satanism (which is the devotion to evil in the final analysis) over atheism.  It is significant also that Greaves appears to have recruited at an atheist convention. 

Then an academic talking head pops up and says that the myth that America is a Christian nation was cooked up in the 50s (?).  This is the main supposed bug bear of the Satanists, that the Constitution is secular and that America is *not* a Christian country. 

The group create an “After School Satan Club”.  A distressed and ordinary mum shouts at them that they’ve frightened school kids across the whole of the school district.  We see a child working from “The Satanic Book of Activities”.  And they still get a completely free pass from the filmmaker.  

Then a man called Hollow Axis talks about the hurt he experienced during the Satanic Panic and that he was targeted because he used to play Dungeons and Dragons.  Sad music plays this time.   

Oh, but they do good things too!  Time for “Menstruation with Satan” – yep a period poverty charity for the homeless.  They also pick litter up with pitchforks. 

Then they go head-to-head with anti-abortionists.  And by going head-to-head, I mean adults dressing up in nappies, rubber masks and S&M leather harnesses.  They describe it as performance art.  No fucks are given to the women who might be attending the clinics at the same time all this is going on.  

The woman who leads the Detroit chapter gets the axe, ostensibly because she calls for Trump’s execution and there’s a strong whiff that Greaves’ motivation for getting rid of her is something else and that it isn’t the naked men in harnesses and pig heads on spikes.  But don’t expect the filmmaker to question it!  That’s not what she’s there for! 

For the second time we see an inference created between single sex bathroom and “Christian privilege” through montage and voice-over.  

The crux of the problem with the Satanists (not that the filmmaker would recognise it) is that they are an absolute gift to the anti-abortion and right wing conservative lobby.  As a Missouri Baptist leader states: “if we’re being sued by the Satanic Temple we’ve gotta to be doing something right”.  And who could disagree?  

The filmmaker presents them as being ‘quirky’ and ‘satirical’, but normal people, whether left or right, just see a bunch of people with an over-eager interest in sexual expression and children.  The final message from the filmmaker, after the credits have rolled, is the suggestion that is all satire.  Satire is normally funny though, and this wasn’t.  

PS. After I finished the thread I had a quick look about, and found they had run a queer strip club the week before. Their politics are very clear.

One comment

  1. The Missouri leader in the trailer, bragging about being sued, looks like the former governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens. Greitens was forced to resign. Fun guy.

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