When you think of “Satanic Temple” you think evil devil worshippers don’t you? Hell I think back to the early 80’s during the entire Satanic Panic craze that swept the nation. Heavy Metal Music, Dungeons & Dragons, Horror Movies, all of this was the tool of the Devil to get you to worship him and commit human sacrifice. I’m sure if your of age you remember all the Specials on TV warning parents about the dangers of the devil getting a hold of your children. The most memorable is the Geraldo Rivera Satan special that actually aired in prime time. Its pretty laughable now but back then it was serious business. One of his guests at the time was Anton LaVey. He is the founder and at the time high priest of the Church of Satan. Which is exactly what it sound like. A church for devil worshippers. Its actually still around to this day. Now a new documentary has just arrived entitled “Hail Satan?” you would think that its all about this, but in fact its not.
Hail Satan? (notice the question mark at the end) is not really about Satan at all, unless you think Satan is the Constitution of the United States, or in their case Rebelling against the social normality. It’s a real church, sort of. It was formed as a satanic faith organization that would meet all of the (at the time) Bush administration’s criteria to receive funding and get tax breaks, but would offend them. It worked. The IRS recognizes them as a full fledge church. They don’t pray to Satan however. They primarily protest against the separation of church and state.
Director Penny Lane found this fascinating enough to make a documentary about the group entitled “Hail Satan?” Its part documentary, part unintentional comedy. It focuses on the groups many protests where as they dress up in satanic garb and wear horn masks and other eye catching appeal to protest the separation of church and state and free expression. They can really get a crowd going to. Holding signs like “Burn Pseudoscience not Witches” There clearly an intelligent group of misfits as opposed to simple smart ass troublemakers. In 2016 the did this in Arizona, which ended up being one of their largest gatherings and were able to get the Phoenix City council to do away with the separation entirely.
Another topic the documentary details is the group trying to get a big goat headed demon statue holding a couple kids built at state capitol buildings around the world. Of course that didn’t work out, but they never really had any intention of doing it. They wanted to show how silly it was that places like Oklahoma and Arkansas when those respective states had their religious commandments removed. That didn’t really work either but it made the states in question look very foolish, it also attracted a good number of Christian protesters to rally against them.
Its satirical and though provoking at the same time. Showing how such staunch right minded individuals has clouded fact and judgements. We meet many different members of the organization and come to see them more as free thinkers as opposed to a group of simple troublemakers. I wish we could have seen a bit more of the founder in the documentary, but he prefers to be cloaked in a bit of secrecy.
With that said Hail Satan is a very thought provoking and humors documentary. Just be forewarned. If your thinking your getting in a documentary about the actual church of Satan or devil worshipping groups you would be wrong. If government and church of state satire is your thing check this out.
Overall 3 out of 5 Stars