Hollywood Satanism

Hollywood Satanism actually goes back to Medieval Europe, when it was believed that witches made a Deal with the Devil to gain their power and engaged in rituals intended to mock Christianity just for the heck of it. Basically, it was thought that Satanism (which didn't actually exist at that point) was essentially reverse Christianity, and the idea stuck. Rosemary's Baby gave it a shot in the arm in the 60's, and during the 70's-90's the Satanic Panic ensured that many of the tropes associated with it became ingrained in the public consciousness.

You know you're looking at Hollywood Satanism when you see Satanism portrayed as a Religion of Evil with bizarre, often disgusting rituals parodying Christian services and a particular fondness for human sacrifice and/or sex orgies. Common hobbies of the Hollywood Satanist include sacrificing your cat, slipping backmasked messages into popular music to corrupt the youth, and engaging in carefully-calculated world-domination schemes that have been in the works since the beginning of time (which usually involve breeding the Anti-Christ - extra points if he's Aryan!).

Individual Satanists are often presented as criminals, unless they're outwardly respectable politicians or public figures, or the whole town and of course a single ritual performed by drunk teens will always make the Big Guy himself (or one of his minions) show up to raise hell.

Real Life Satanism can be divided into two categories. One of them, sometimes called "LaVeyan Satanism" after one of its more famous figures, doesn't believe in Satan as a physical entity, and instead refers to him as a symbol for freedom to follow your own desires and/or for fighting against tyranny. The other one worships or reveres Satan as a deity. Both of them, generally speaking, view Christian morality as self-destructive for both individuals and society. It's a religion whose followers, generally speaking, are no more or less likely to be "evil" than the followers of any other religion, though their sense of what constitutes right and wrong is likely to veer far from the mainstream. In reality, it is more akin to the Pagan religions of old, their primary belief being that Satan and the demons are a corruption of the old Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek and Roman gods. And no, human sacrifice is not a widely accepted practice in most branches (though symbolic sacrifices may be — but that is Not So Different from the Christian Communion, which is itself a symbolic sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus).

Of course, if the work of fiction portrays its Satanists as part of a Secret Circle of Secrets, then the above objections can arguably be handwaved: if such a secret society existed, then we wouldn't know about it...

Compare Religion of Evil, Always Chaotic Evil. Also compare Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters.

Examples

Comic Books
  • Ms Tree had a story in the DC period where Tree investigated a murdered girl who joined a satanic church and was found dead with a inverted pentagram on her body. She was predisposed to suspect the church of course, but her findings with a freelance reporter who met up with her about this case showed her how many allegations about satanists causing trouble are often overblown. In the end, Tree discovered the girl's murderer was actually an insane Christian fanatic who was posing as a local anti-Satanist activist to cover-up his crimes.
  • Several Chick Tracts have this theme, especially the ones pertaining to Halloween.
  • Averted in Grant Morrison's Batman, which shows Dr. Hurt performing a Satanic ritual to summon Barbatos actually one of Darkseid's weapons. All the components for a satanic ritual are present (nude woman, black robes, star of Baphomet etc.) The only Hollywood aspect is when Dr. Hurt eats the heart of a bat, but then again, Hurt is portrayed as pretty extreme even by satanic standards.

Fan Fic

Film
  • In Spawn, a pair of "weekend Satanists" bump into Spawn and Clown (a.k.a. Violator) and completely freak out when faced with Spawn's transformation, much to Clown's disgust.
    Clown: How come God hogs up all the good followers, and we're left with the retards?
  • Rosemary's Baby. See Literature below for details.
  • Race with the Devil: Two ordinary couples on an RV trip witness a Satanic human sacrifice and are pursued by the cultists, who wish to silence them.
  • Jennifer's Body: A band sacrifices Alpha Bitch Jennifer to Satan so they can be huge rockstars.
  • The main villains in Drive Angry are this. Oddly enough, though, the actual minion of Satan isn't really shown to be all that bad in this movie, and says that the devil does not approve of the cult.
  • The plot of the B-movie Devil's Prey features a cast chased around by masked practitioners of Satan.
  • Demonic Toys does this to an extent. A demon in the form of a child (a la Rosemary's Baby) dies shortly after being born and is buried near a toy factory. Blood is spilled and he comes back to life. He has a baby doll draw a pentacle on a floor in the warehouse, complete with candles, since he plans on having sex with a pregnant cop in the circle so he can possess the fetus. Oh yeah, and this is on Halloween.
  • Satanists who lure a babysitter for a ritual appear in The House of the Devil.
  • The villains of the Hammer Horror film The Devil Rides Out attempt to do a Human Sacrifice. Main characters arrive to investigate.
  • In The Legacy, group of modern practitioners of black arts are invited to hear the will of a dying powerful warlock. Soon, one of them starts to bump out the competition.
  • In I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, the trouble starts when a bunch of Hollywood Satanist outlaw bikers are attacked and killed by non-religious rival bikers during a demon-summoning ritual, freeing the demon to cause havoc.
  • 12/12/12 has a Mayan death cult who nonetheless hit every point of Hollywood Satanism right down to symbols of Baphomet painted on the walls of their temple.

Literature
  • Dennis Wheatley, a British thriller writer who was very popular in his day, wrote a series of novels about Satanism (beginning with The Devil Rides Out in 1934) which may have helped to codify this trope - especially when The Devil Rides Out was filmed in 1968, forming a double-whammy with the film of Rosemary's Baby the same year. To be fair, Wheatley at least did some research, basing his villains around real (but much less evil) figures such as Aleister Crowley and Montague Summers. However, he is no longer considered the occult expert that he was at the height of his popularity.
  • In Good Omens, Crowley identifies two kinds of Satanist: ordinary people who are Satanists because their parents were and don't usually think about religion except when they go to Black Mass, and the other kind who give demons (or Crowley, at least) the creeps.
  • Russ Martin's series about an evil Satanic organization, including The Possession of Jessica Young, The Obsession of Sally Wing and The Education of Jennifer Parrish.
  • In Conspiracies, one of the conventioneers had been brainwashed into accusing her father of molestation and Satanism, by a shrink her mother hired to ensure she's keep custody in the divorce settlement. Years later, she's plagued by nightmares of terrible encounters with Hollywood Satanism that never happened. The fact that genuine evil forces are exacerbating these baseless dreams for their own purposes only makes it worse.
  • Any Chick Tract trying to portray Satanism.
  • Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley has literal Hollywood Satanism, with the worship of Belial in a post-apocalytic Crapsack World Southern California presented in the framing story as the unproduceable opus of a Hollywood screenwriter. Sex orgies, Human Sacrifice and intense misogyny are involved.
  • Rosemary's Baby, in which not-so-friendly neighborhood Satanists see to the impregnation of the titular Rosemary with the spawn of Satan and the Anti Christ.
  • Babylon Rising features a shadowy and secretive group of Satanists that have existed since Satan made contact with a Babylonian priest during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar and started up a cult.
  • Hotel Transylvania, the first book in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain series, is MADE of this trope. Devoted Satanists centuries before Satanism existed? Check. Inverted crosses to shock and horrify Christians? Check. Raping and sacrificing virgins to get power from Satan? Double check.
  • One of the most famous books in the Fighting Fantasy series was House of Hell, where the antagonists were a cult like this. (And a very unsubtle one at that.)
  • The First Reformed Church of the Antichrist in Mr Blank is evil to the point of self parody. Just don't tell them that.
    • The sequel introduces even more Satanist groups, though the Order of the Morning Star appears to be an inversion of the trope.
  • The Scream : Discussed. The book is set during The Eighties, when metal was at its height of popularity. The book centres around two rock bands, one of which uses heavy Satanic imagery. The leader of the other band, Jake, points out that most of the time, Satanic imagery and lyrics in music are just part of the act. Not so with The Scream.

Live-Action TV
  • In the The X-Files episode "Die Hand Die Verletzt", the agents encountered a group of "real" Satanists who were accused of being the Hollywood Satanist type. That they were all school teachers didn't help. It ends up being a parodic subversion, in that the Satanists are far from the Hollywood Satanism stereotype; they never do human sacrifices or molest children or anything like what the moral panic suggests, they're just normal, everyday people just happen to worship Satan. Unfortunately, one of their now-teenage kids has gotten some hazy childhood memories confused with the sensationalist stuff she's seen in the media, thus prompting an hysterical panic.
    • Even more unfortunately, someone did a ritual and actually summoned the Devil, who was less than pleased at the watered down beliefs.
  • Starsky & Hutch episode "Satan's Witches": While on vacation, the title characters run into a town being threatened by a cult of devil-worshipping Satanists.
  • The "Hail Satan Network" on Mr. Show. It's essentially like a real gospel show, only its hosts and audience are Satanists who worship the devil, encourage the seven deadly sins and chant "Hail Satan!"
  • Adam Adamant Lives: In "The Last Sacrifice", Adam battles a British lord who is running a satanist cult complete with hooded robes, orgies and human sacrifice. He is mostly using it as a source of blackmail, but Adam mentions that his family has a history of satanism cropping up every third generation.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "The Devils", the team investigates a member of the English gentry who involves foreign and domestic officials in Satanic rituals and human sacrifice for blackmail purposes.

Music
  • The song "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden tells of a man witnessing Satanic rituals that horrify him.
  • Murdoc Niccals of the Gorillaz is openly satanist, is never seen without the inverted cross on his neck and has apparently made a Deal with the Devil.
  • Marilyn Manson was honored with the title of "Reverend" by Anton LaVey himself in 1994 and has played to this stereotype on occasion (particularly during the Antichrist Superstar era).
  • Alice Cooper is an interesting subversion: he's often been accused of being the Hollywood Satanist, and his stage shows may very well give the impression to some that he is... when he's actually a Christian.
  • Katy Perry played with this in her performance at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Unfortunately, many people took it as an indication of her being a real life satanist. A matter not helped by the fact that, around this time, her "turbulent" relationship with her parents (who are both fundamentalist Christians) was getting extensive media coverage.

Professional Wrestling

Tabletop Games
  • Crops up, as you'd imagine, more than a few times in both versions of The World of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Ascension has the Nephandi, fallen mages who want to corrupt/annihilate all of reality in the name of their dark masters. The Infernalists are one faction of them, whose tendencies most often involve tempting others into wickedness and selling their souls to dark entities.
    • Belial's Brood from Vampire: The Requiem plays credit to LaVeyan Satanism while still invoking a number of Religion of Evil tropes. A number of members of the Brood don't worship Satan as an actual entity, but regard him as an ideological construct that represents the Beast that screams in the souls of all vampires. However, as the Beast is a representation of all that's savage and terrible about the vampiric condition and grows stronger the more detached one becomes from Humanity, they do the usual black mass/virgin sacrifice/dark pact stuff in an effort to reach true divinity.
  • Used in Warhammer 40K: it's mentioned that many cultists don't actually know what they're doing, merely enacting rituals from what they've seen in scary holos and whatever sounds cool, and thus totally fail to summon daemons. On occasion, however, some of them succeed... if they're very unlucky.

Video Games
  • The Blood Raiders in EVE Online play this absolutely straight, except that instead of being Satanists, they're a heretical sect of the mainstream Amarrian religion. The equivalent for our society would be a Christian sect that engaged in blood rituals and human sacrifices.
    • Of course, the Amarrian religion itself has some uncomfortable tenets, particularly its endorsement of slavery.
    • Theistic Satanism kind of is a Christian sect.
  • Blaze Stalker, the Big Bad of the old 90s game Blackstar Agent Of Justice. He's very much an individual version of this trope, runs a Snuff Film ring that targets hookers, and was responsible for the murder of both of Blackstar's parents, his father to get at his mother, and his mother to fulfill some sick lust and desire for power.

Webcomics

Web Originals

Western Animation
  • Parodied in Metalocalypse, when Murderface joins the Church of Satan and goes to Black Mass. They come across as rather timid, cowardly people that can't stand up for themselves. Then played straight in The Stinger, when the Church of Satan actually does summon a demon. (although considering DETHKLOK was there it could've unknowingly been their doing).
  • Subverted on Moral Orel. Coach Stopframe worships Satan believing him to be some powerful being that can help him win over Clay's heart and help the school's team. When he joins actual satanists, they turn out to a bunch of sloppy hedonists, and seem utterly horrified that Stopframe actually brought a Virgin for them to rape, saying it was more about the symbolism than the deed, and don't bother Orel at all (in fact, he gets along rather well with them).

Other
  • The conspiracy theories associated with the Satanic Panic, full stop.
  • The Church of Satan founded by occultist Anton Sandor LeVey in California in the 1950's was designed to have many elements of Hollywood Satanism. This drew in movie stars like Jayne Mansfield and other members of the screen machine who got exactly what they expected to see in a Satanic church. Sandor LeVey could be viewed as the Satanic equivalent of a shrewd televangelist, operating with a view to maximising the cashflow from the faithful.