Apr 10, 2009

Speak of the Devil

After reading a few books by Church of Satan founder and High Priest Anton LaVey, I felt I needed to see the documentary Speak of the Devil. Aside from LaVey’s biographies, Speak of the Devil is probably the most personal document you will ever find on LaVey. Although I am not a Satanist, I find Anton LaVey to be an interesting character, who said and wrote things that most people cannot even handle hearing without reacting in hysterics. A true follower of the left-hand path, Anton LaVey was a carny with brains and devilish insight, truly one of the last of his kind. Although obviously having low production values and sometimes tedious, Speak of the Devil is a documentary I plan to watch again anytime I have the urge to see a dark one man carnival.

It is now surprising that Anton LaVey was able to give the horrific Tod Browning film Freaks (1932) new life after the film had been nearly buried via past public outrage and banning upon it’s initial release. Speak of the Devil follows Anton LaVey in his home which looks like it could have been in an 1940s Gothic horror film. LaVey has a personal library with a sign that threatens bodily harm for those that might have the curiosity of picking up one of his rare books. Anton LaVey also has a room full of androids as he had come to prefer to be in the company of virtual humans instead of your typical boring real-life humans. LaVey was friends and influenced by a man named Cecil Ex. Nixon, who happened to have built a brilliant automaton by the name of Isis. In Speak of the Devil, Anton LaVey goes into discussion about how he both hates people yet loves to study them. I found this discussion to be one of LaVey’s most insightful to who he really is in the documentary.

Anton LaVey also was once the proud owner of a Nubian lion named Togare. Speak of the Devil features stock footage of the LaVey family and Togare on a children’s television show. Anton LaVey is sporting hair on this show as this was before he shaved his head and started the Church of Satan. LaVey’s daughter Zeena can be seen as a child in this footage. She later would go on to denounce her father and claim she was responsible for his death via ritual curse. Speak of the Devil also features Anton LaVey playing the calliope in true carny fashion. During his eerie carnival-like performances, footage of the carnival and vaudeville appear giving the documentary it's most powerful moments.

As stated before, Speak of the Devil does suffer from low quality production as it has the bad video quality so prevalent during the early 1990s. I would have preferred the documentary to have had a sort of German expressionist or film noir aesthetic but one can only dream. For those somewhat interested in carnivals, the occult, and the left-hand path, Speak of the Devil is a must see. The documentary goes as a great companion piece to Blanche Barton’s The Secret Life of a Satanist which is also endsored by author Barton in Speak of the Devil. One also cannot pass up a film featuring Boyd Rice bowling.

-Ty E


Keith said...

I always found him to be an interesting character. I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have read some of his books. Much of what he says is common sense if we really admit it. I've never seen this though. I always thought it would be fascinating though.

Soiled Sinema said...

Keith- "Speak of the Devil" is on YouTube in it's entirety. Although the quality isn't the greatest, I still recommend you checking it out. Hopefully, it will get a DVD release sometime soon.

-Ty E