A Night of Satanis With Stanton LaVey

Underneath the crowded streets illuminated by static lights in the City of Angels, lies the dark, private venue known as the Zephyr Theatre. On August 11, 2018, the film "Satanis: The Devil’s Mass", was screened on 16mm film for the first time since its release in 1970. The film features Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, and the members of the Church, describing the ins-and-outs of Satanism, with a live ritual, featured on-screen. This feat of occult goodness was hosted by the grandson of Anton LaVey, Stanton LaVey. I aided LaVey in running the show in Los Angeles, and it was one any scholar of the occult would not want to miss.

After the screening, I reached out to Stanton LaVey via email to gain some insight into why he decided to breathe life into "Satanis." LaVey replied, “Apart from the obvious that the film is one part historical documentary to one-part 'family home movie', and since I own a rare 16mm print of the film, it seemed like something fun to do.” Furthermore, "Satanis" originally was shown as a double feature to the cult classic “Night of the Living Dead”.

The 16mm format the film was shown on gave the showing an antique, nostalgic feel. When asked how he obtained the 16mm print, LaVey stated, “I was living in the forest for a time in 2010 with my now wife Sharon when I started corresponding with a fellow collector who owns and operates a site that deals in selling and creating market value for artwork by serial killers, as well as other sorts of souvenirs from highly publicized murders.” As an audience member listening to the clatter and clicks of the film, it felt like we were teleported back to a dusky, darkened theater in 1970.

Much like the ominous tone of "Satanis," the Zephyr Theatre that hosted this event was also worth noting. In reference to why he chose the Zephyr Theatre to screen "Satanis," LaVey said, “I thought it was the perfect mix of mainstream, being as how it's centrally located on Melrose in Hollywood, its old-time playhouse vibe, and an atmosphere that reminded me of the black house where I grew up.” After the showing, a mannequin of Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, was revealed. For the audience, and as someone who helped construct the mannequin for the show, it was a surreal experience unlike any other.

As a practicing occultist and someone who has studied the works of Anton LaVey, the show on August 11 was one for the books. Working alongside the grandson of the Black Pope himself and seeing the joy and intrigue on the audience members faces ensured me that this is one show anyone with an interest in the occult will not want to miss. Stanton LaVey will be taking "Satanis" on tour, with more dates to be revealed soon.

Austin Smedley