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Pearls Before Swine (1999) - dir. Richard Wolstencroft

Second feature-length release from maverick Australian auteur, Richard Wolstencroft. This time starring Boyd Rice as a strong arm specialist hired by right-wing politicos to assassinate a subversive author. Brutal, misanthropic and politically incorrect in the extreme, Pearls Before Swine takes a deep and murderous look into the atavistic depths of our depraved little hearts and likes what it sees. With plenty of gratuitous sex and violence, there's a veritable smorgasbord of achingly deserving human vermin led to the cinematic slaughter here ( No finer example of which is one of the opening scenes in which Rice and company mow down a gaggle of homeless scumbags so they can in turn sell their cadavers to medical students.), not to mention the incendiary soundtrack supplied by Rice's own "musical" unit, NON, all help to make Pearls Before Swine not only one of the most enjoyable viewing experiences in recent memory, but certainly one of the most genuinely Satanic as well.

[- Robert Wilkins]

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) - dir. Tim Burton

Pee-wee's Big Adventure is, to quote the tagline, the story of a rebel and his bike. The rebel is Pee-wee Herman, the famous zany stage character of comedian Paul Reubens. Pee-wee is a true eclectic who lives in his own Total Environment. His lair not only holds an aquarium bathroom window, fireman pole, giant bathroom appliances, and a pancake-flipping Artificial Human Companion, but safely houses his most prized possession: his bicycle. It's his mechanical familiar, an inseparable complement of himself.

Then one day, the bicycle is mysteriously stolen. When his friends can't help and the police are of no use, Pee-wee knows that he must take matters into his own hands. He makes it his vital mission to recover his stolen bicycle. This quest leads him on a wild chase through several parts of the country, and Pee-wee stops at nothing to get his beloved material possession back.

Along the way, the hero befriends a ruthless bike gang known as Satan's Helpers, makes cunning use of the latest novelty store prank items, breaks world records for rodeo riding, becomes a movie star, and cleverly uses disguises and the art of deception to pass through a police road block, interrogate pretentious rich-boy suspects, and whatever else puts him closer to getting his bicycle back. The only time he doesn't put his interests first is when he risks his own life to rescue countless animals from a burning pet store -- even the ugly ones.

We also see excellent examples of cold reading from Madame Ruby, memorably witty put-downs, plus disturbing nightmares of clowns and claymation which I've heard many Generation-X folks vividly remember being scared by as children. The film was Tim Burton's full-length debut and, like virtually all of Burton's works, has a soundtrack by Danny Elfman, whose other works I've seen many Satanists make use of for the ritual chamber. Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a Satanic masterpiece through and through. I encourage Satanists to check out the DVD release to see some great deleted scenes in addition to the main feature. Hail Pee-wee!

[- Bill M.]

Pennies From Heaven (1981) - dir. Herbert Ross [on CoS Video List]

Steve Martin plays a song-salesman, traveling from town to town selling sheet music. He is deprived of sex, and has a psychotically prudish wife. On a business trip, he falls in love with a school teacher. He is miserable, impulsive, and a fanatic believer in the songs he sells. It goes downhill from there.

When I first saw Pennies From Heaven, after reading Doctor LaVey’s mention of it in The Secret Life of a Satanist, I had never actually liked a musical before. As a Satanist, I avoided musicals like they were religious proselytizers. Musicals all seem like they are trying to provide an escape for the audience. Certainly, all of cinema can be seen as “escapist” entertainment, but musicals seem to try to distract viewers from any sense of reality. Their characters sing and dance instead of solving their problems. Musicals actually cater to people who seek out pipe dreams.

But this is precisely why Pennies From Heaven is Satanic. It is the anti-musical. Instead of providing its audience with an escape from dreary circumstances, it uses music to elucidate the dreary circumstances, and the music is all the more evocative due to its purpose. It draws upon 70s-style cynicism and dovetails it with 30s-style cinema. The characters are constantly trying to escape their miseries, and use song and dance to express this. We, the audience members, are shown just how inept they are at affecting positive change in their lives. When the film does offer dreamy, comfortable illusions, as all musicals do, it is not long before they are shown to be preludes to sorrow.

The film uses period recordings as opposed to having the performers use their real voices. The performers are all lip-synching over the old songs. So it’s obvious to the viewer that the characters are not truly escaping anything; they are merely wanting to escape. The film is like a critique on the very escapist entertainment which it imitates.

Just in case you’re freaked out by the “H” word, the title is named after a pop song from the Thirties, and has nothing to do with the Christian concept of the word. The film promotes a “live it up” attitude toward life, not because redemption awaits, but because redemption is not worth waiting for. Take, for example, these lyrics from one of the film’s songs: “Life is just a bowl of cherries. Don’t take it serious. Life’s too mysterious. You work, you save, you worry so, but you can’t take your dough when you go, go, go.”

It’s quite exciting to hear lyrics of popular tunes of the 20s and 30s that are congruent with the Satanic philosophy. It becomes clear why LaVey loved the music of the film, when you see Christopher Walken, dressed to impress, strutting around a sleazy saloon with two floozies at his sides, singing, “Spring means just one thing to little lovebirds. We’re not above birds. Let’s misbehave!” There’s more innuendo to tickle your fancy in the song, “Love Is Good For Anything That Ales You”: “You don’t need pills. You need thrills.” I found the innocence of the songs to be quite stimulating when combined with their carnal subject matter. The film reminds us just how ribald these pop songs were. Bernadette Peters is priceless when she teases Steve Martin during a music scene. She bounces on his lap while lip-synching to “I Want to Be Bad” by Helen Kane. “If it’s naughty to ruse your lips, shake your shoulders and shake your hips, let a lady confess: I want to be bad.”

The music of Pennies From Heaven is extraordinarily evocative, and the story is strikingly sad. It’s one of those brilliant mistakes that come out of Hollywood far too infrequently.

[- Miles Jacobsen]

Phenomena (1985) - dir. Dario Argento

This film is a classic among those made by Dario Argento. It stars Jennifer Connelly as a young girl who has the ability to communicate with insects. The movie is about a group of young girls who attend a Swiss boarding school which according to the film was once owned by Richard Wagner. The girls fall victim to a brutal serial murderer. The only person who has a clue to what's going on is Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly). She is aided by the famous Entomologist, Dr. McGregor to help solve the murders.

The interesting thing about this film is that her classmates and her teacher think she is somehow diabolic because she has the ability to communicate with flies and other insects. Their reasoning is 'since The Devil is The Lord of the Flies then her power must be evil.' Little do they know that if it wasn't for her and her ability to communicate with flies, the killer would remain on the loose.

This film is a classic study of human behavior. Whenever people tend to have strange psychic abilities outside the norm, they are oftentimes regarded as something evil or unnatural. Given the fact that most people within society hate flies only gives them more reason to think that she is in some way evil. The only person who understands her is the Entomologist who helps her solve the murder. He alone sees her abilities as something that can be used to find the murderer.

This movie is truly a Sinister Cinematic gem worthy of the Satanic moviegoer who is looking to see a film that is not at all typical of the slasher movies that have plagued our theaters for so many years.

[- BrightMidNight]