On Friday, March 16, at 10 p.m., video blogging website Everything Is Terrible! will bring a host of devils and demons to the Crescent Theater at a screening of its latest film, “The Great Satan.” This full-length film takes its inspiration from a historical era marked by accounts of human beings supposedly aligning themselves with demonic forces and the people who sought to put an end to their activities.
While many may think the title refers to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century, Everything Is Terrible! found its muse in a more recent phenomenon known as “the Satanic Panic.” Kindled by such individuals as Mike Warnke (author of “The Satan Seller”) as well as psychologist Lawrence Pazder and his wife, Michelle Smith (co-authors of “Michelle Remembers”), the Satanic Panic was an ‘80s-era social phenomenon that had multitudes of people convinced an underground network of satanists was slowly taking over the secular world through countless infant sacrifices and secret demonic evocations. Much like the Red Scare, the Satanic Panic convinced the public that anyone could be holding a satanic secret.
Locally, a derelict dairy on Halls Mill Road (nicknamed “Stone House”) was purported to be a satanic temple for local devil enthusiasts. Stone House even made front-page news in the then Mobile Press-Register. In some local private Christian schools, the “Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground” episode of “The Geraldo Rivera Show” was an annual feature of many religion classes. Everything Is Terrible! co-founder Dimitri Simakis says he was young during this period but remembers it vividly.
“I believed it 100 percent,” Simakis said. “We all did. I thought there was no question that at some point in my life I was going to be forced to go to some sort of satanic ritual. I was going to drink goat’s blood, at best, or be sacrificed, at worst. I thought I was going to be a satanist or be murdered by one, according to what these specials were telling me.”
Those unfamiliar with the Everything Is Terrible! style of filmmaking should not expect anything to be traditional about this production. Since its beginning, Everything Is Terrible! has used a psychedelic mashup of “forgotten footage, found footage, old VHS tapes, instructional tapes and Z-grade movies” and contextualized it into “palatable” narratives. While the finished products may be conceived as chaotic, Simakis says all of their full-length films are narratives, including “The Great Satan.” Simakis says “The Great Satan” is Everything Is Terrible!’s rendition of the story of humanity by concentrating on the evolving perception of evil.
“That definition changes a lot, but we go through it,” Simakis explained. “We go from the creation of the universe, and it just kinda takes off. We’re essentially telling the story of humanity using found footage.”
This screening will be enhanced with a live show Simakis says will be a “full-on experience” featuring “costumes and puppets and plenty of fog machines.” Those in attendance might even see a few of the thousands of copies of Everything Is Terrible!’s collection of “Jerry Maguire” VHS tapes, which they sincerely hope will be used to erect a giant pyramid in the desert someday.
Tickets are on sale now through the Crescent Theater’s website.