Sunday 8 September 2019

Film: 'Hail Satan?'

Fairly entertaining documentary on 'The Satanic Temple' organisation/religion focussing on its campaign in the U.S.A. to extend the doctrine of 'Freedom of Religion' to include all religions, including Satanism, and in particular to end the heavy bias in favour of Christianity. It's main target is to counter the spreading practice of erecting stone monuments of the Ten Commandments outside certain regional government offices, and rather than have these removed. to have put up here (in Little Rock, Ark.) their own statue of Baphomet, representing Satan, in close proximity but even larger - and featuring two small children gazing lovingly into the seated god's eyes.  
There are a number of talking heads, especially that of the Temple's founder, Lucien Greaves, as well as other members and their legal representatives. I think I'm right in saying that none of the 'other side' talked directly to camera, with their words, all on film - some being archive footage, including Billy Graham - or in TV interviews conducted mainly with Fox News, more or less condemning themselves out of their own mouths. (No prizes for guessing whose side Fox News is on!).
The film takes a none-too-serious stance, not being markedly anti either side though it's clear that it's the Satanists who are both the more articulate and knowledgeable when it comes to the American constitution and politics whereas with the Xtian side one could write their words and arguments before they are even vocalised. Their position has been fixed for years, perhaps their entire lives, and nothing will make them change their minds. (Rather like a certain section of the current American electorate?) But they still protest and gatecrash Satanist meetings, talking as only they had that right - while demonstrators line the roads saying their prayers and their rosaries. 
Incidentally, the term 'Satanist' is used as a term of convenience rather than the featureless word 'atheist' ("boring" one speaker calls it) and it doesn't mean that they practice human or animal sacrifices, drinking blood or any of the rituals that have come to be associated with such people. Their rules for life conduct (respect for all life, non-injury etc), covered in their Seven Tenets. all seem eminently sensible. In fact the more I heard about it the more attractive it sounds. 

Director Penny Lane ("the barber shaves another cuss-tomer") keeps such a sensible distance from getting involved with the subject matter that it's easy to both laugh at and get maddened at certain contributions shown, the latter being entirely on one side, incidentally.

My sole reservation is that the film's focus is rather narrow, all on this particular section of Satanism. I would have preferred it to have cast a wider net, though of course that hadn't been the director's intention. 

Good food for thought without being over-demanding. Recommended...............6.

(IMDb......................7.2 / Rott. Tome..............4.1 / 5 ) 


  1. What a fascinating bunch they are.
    I will still pass on the movie though.

    1. To be honest, I was expecting something with a bit more 'kick' but what there is here still deserves a viewing.