Sundance 2019: Hail Satan?

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As an armchair satanic panic historian/debunker, I was clued in very early to the activism of what would soon become the Satanic Temple. A local Utah self-styled ‘therapist’ sought to exploit a mentally ill woman and write an awful satanic ritual abuse ‘memoir’ in the vein of “Michelle Remembers” for profit. Through various online efforts, I saw Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves and his associates aggressively debunk the book and its unscrupulous author, and advocate for the woman’s well-being. Continue reading

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Being A Witch Ain’t One

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October 17, 2017 – Do we have a witch problem in recent horror cinema? Or are some filmmakers taking a mirror to something around us? I’m referencing three semi-recent films that look to me like a brutal, radical trifecta of witchcraft. Are they more Malleus Maleficarum, or more like a horror movie Valerie Solanas might have cared to make? Continue reading

Six Trash Movies From the Satanic Panic Era!

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PamDawberMuffinOctober 12, 2017 – As I’ve chronicled on a prior version of this blog, satanic panic is de rigeur in recent horror cinema. From the possession and exorcism genre revived by The Exorcism of Emily Rose to retro satanic cult thrillers like House of the Devil. From the franchising of Ed & Lorraine Warren’s infamous devil-busting “true stories” to the conflation of witchcraft with devil-worship (Lords of Salem, The VVitch). From flirtations with affirming the 1980s moral panic of Satanic Ritual Abuse (HBO’s True Detective) to challenging it (Regression).

My suspicion is that current filmmakers are as fascinated as I am with it, some of them having studied its history and some of them having lived it. But I also suspect it’s failing to strike any basic nerve or chord with today’s audiences, except perhaps in the more insane conspiracy theory circles out there.

So I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight six made for TV movies made straight out of the Satanic Panic era! I chose these primarily because they earnestly traffic in the lurid prurient headlines of the times with zero irony and Lifetime TV Production panache. Some have very high profile actors involved, which makes them simultaneously awful and delightful. Continue reading