Anthology Film Archives

THE DEVIL PROBABLY: A CENTURY OF SATANIC PANIC

January 31 – February 20

Inspiring a wealth of creative output, negative perceptions about Satanism and the occult have been perpetually harnessed by those in power to stoke alarmist fears about artists, feminists, people of color, rebellious youths, and other groups who have threatened the status quo, contributing to the rise of mass hysteria, conspiracy theories, and superstition. Conversely, many of these groups and their allies have aimed to challenge oppressive regimes through satirical, oppositional, or sympathetic interpretations of Satanic mythology, which have taken a variety of artistic forms. Whether presented as allegory or nonfiction, representations of Satan and Satanic worship act as barometers for socio-political trends and inspire scrutiny of historic and modern-day witch-hunts around the world. Taking this discourse as a point of departure, this series showcases the phenomenon and legacy of Satanic Panic as it’s been manifested cinematically throughout the history of the medium.

“The Devil Probably” encompasses works from the earliest days of the cinema up to the present day, and combines satanic classics like THE BLACK CAT (1934), THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943), and ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968), with a wealth of rarely-screened discoveries such as the Italian silents L’INFERNO (1911) and RAPSODIA SATANICA (1917), the rarely-discussed D.W. Griffith feature THE SORROWS OF SATAN (1926), psychedelic UK mondo film SECRET RITES (1971), and the bizarre Warren Oates-starring Satanist/car-chase film, RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975). Organized chronologically, the series culminates with a week devoted largely to the emergence in the 1980s of the mass hysteria surrounding alleged Satanic ritual abuse that came to be known as “Satanic Panic.”

“The Devil Probably” will feature in-person appearances from filmmaker Jacqueline Castel, who will present a program of Satanic Panic-themed short films and clips; Jon Dieringer, the founder editor of Screen Slate; and Mitch Horowitz, author and historian of the occult, who will introduce one screening of ROSEMARY’S BABY. We are also thrilled to welcome Lucien Greaves, spokesman and co-founder of The Satanic Temple; Greaves will be here on opening night to lead a black mass ritual and deliver an illustrated lecture before the legendary HÄXAN, and he will also appear for the first screening of Penny Lane’s documentary HAIL SATAN? (2019).

Guest-curated by Genevieve HK.

Special thanks to Pia Borg; Jacqueline Castel; Jon Dieringer; Lucien Greaves; Mitch Horowitz; Penny Lane; Carmen Accaputo (Cineteca di Bologna); Julianne Augustine & Marc Mauceri (First Run Features); Brian Belovarac (Janus Films); Neal Block & Rahul Roy (Magnolia Pictures); Chris Chouinard (Park Circus); Kitty Cleary (MoMA); Sarah Cronin-Stanley (Renown Films); Eric Di Bernardo (Rialto Pictures); Jack Durwood (Paramount); Jason Jackowski (Universal); Matt Jones (University of North Carolina School of the Arts); David Marriott (Arbelos Films); Mark McElhatten (Sikelia); Jurij Meden (Austrian Film Museum); Veronica Neely (20th Century Fox); Hannah Prouse & George Watson (BFI); Lynanne Schweighofer (Library of Congress); and Nicole Weis (A24).



Upcoming Screenings

< Back to Series