Follow TV Tropes

Following

Hollywood Satanism

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/273ae2f90af0f619.png

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 Antichrist — extra points if he's Aryan!).

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.

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, which is called "Theistic Satanism", 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...

Note that just because a Black Mass or any other such Satanic activity is held in secret does not make it an example of this trope. Real Life Satanists have every reason not to boast about their religion, especially if they happen to be an influential politician or a movie star, even if personally they are some of the nicest people you'd ever encounter, unless they wish to have their careers flushed down the toilet and receive dirty looks from passers-by and media until the end of time.

Compare Religion of Evil, Always Chaotic Evil. Also compare Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters. Also compare Hollywood Voodoo, as Hollywood isn't always clear on the difference.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Sazan Eyes has Pai captured by a cult of self-proclaimed Satanists in Wales, of all things, looking for a human sacrifice. The Grand Priest downright tells her about their worship of Satan, though not all the members wear hoods, capes and goat masks (only the head priest is in full regalia). However, since Pai is actually an immortal Triclop and her Wu Yakumo soon comes to her rescue, they are harmless villains at most, and not taken very seriously, as they're just Muggles compared to Pai and Yakumo's usual opponents.

     Comic Books 
  • Ghost Rider frequently fights these kind of Satanists.
  • 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.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Several of the people who ended up becoming vampires in Resurrection were satanists in their human lives, including Claudia Demona and Thurim. Of course, they loved Human Sacrifice.
  • The horror anthology series Nightmare World had a story about a death metal fanboy who fit this trope, and sacrificed his artist friend to the Devil in hopes of being given metal fame and fortune like his idol, a Marilyn Manson Expy. However, the demon that shows up in response to the sacrifice tells him that Hell no longer fulfills wishes that doesnt stand to corrupt enough souls, and the market for death metal is way too small to justify the effort. When the fanboy begs and promises to do whatever it takes, the demon grants him his request by transforming him into a star that's guaranteed to reach a massive fanbase; a member of a Boy Band. On the final page, that contains The Reveal, the fanboy admits to himself that he's okay with this, as he does get to enjoy fame and fortune, even if it's not the way he had originally envisioned.

     Fan Fic 

     Film 
  • The Black Cat (1934) features Boris Karloff as a Satanic high priest with a fondness for human sacrifice.
  • In Spawn, a trio 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 get all the retards?
  • Faust: Love of the Damned: The Hand. Orgies, human sacrifices, wishing for the death of all humanity, led by the Devil himself, it's all there.
  • 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 Omen and its sequels. The entire series is centered on The Anti Christ, Damien, and a cadre of satanist followers who created the means for his birth, supporting him from the shadows and helping him remove any obstacles to his rise to power (not that he needs a lot of help, especially once he grows out of childhood). Damiens ultimate goal is to prevent the return of Jesus Christ and usher in the End of Days in Hell's favor. He fails
  • The main villains in Drive Angry are this. Oddly enough, though, the actual minion of Satan, who is there to take the protagonist back to Hell, 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, a group of modern practitioners of the black arts are invited to hear the will of a dying powerful warlock. Soon, one of them starts to bump off 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.
  • Eye of the Devil is a pretty standard instance of this trope, with a Secret Circle of Secrets, evil magic, and Human Sacrifice. It turns out that the entire town (a small French village) is full of Satanists, who meet in black mass and occasionally perform human sacrifices when the town vineyard fails.
  • The main antagonists of Hack-O-Lantern are every Satanism stereotype imaginable, in that they are dark wizards who will murder anybody who gets in their way of corrupting the children. They also try to do the "Devil Horn" symbol, but due to errors in the filmmaking process, end up doing "I Love You" in American Sign Language.

     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, the demon Crowley identifies two kinds of Satanist. Most are ordinary people who only partake in Satanism because they were raised in the faith and don't think about religion much except when they go to Black Mass, akin to your ordinary less-than-devout Christian. But others, like the ones you sometimes hear about on the news, give even Crowley 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'd get 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.
  • 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 unfilmable 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 '80s, when metal was at its height of popularity. The book centers 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 who happen to worship Satan (their rituals don't involve killing anyone). 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 their lack of faith (they're lapsed Satanists, it transpires).
  • 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.
  • On Misfits, the local Boy Scout troop is revealed to be a cover for Satan's agents, who manage to turn Finn and Abby into agents as well. They have rituals involving chicken blood and Satanic literature.
  • Dead of Summer has a gang of Satanist bikers running around causing trouble, led by a guy calling himself Damon Crowley. Deputy Garrett believes that they're behind the mysterious occurrences at Camp Stillwater, though their exact role in the story remains a mystery so far.
  • Defied by Criminal Minds; in one episode that dealt with a murder that looked like Hollywood Satanism, the agents specify that Satanic ritual murder hasn't taken place to their knowledge (that's not to say crazy people didn't associate Satan with their crimes, but that there was no proven instance of organized human sacrifice). In the end, the "satanists" in the town are mostly just edgy punk kids who don't hurt anyone, and the killer was one of the popular kids who pinned the murder on the satanists as a ploy to get away with it.
  • Lucifer (2016). The focus of the episode "TeamLucifer". Lucifer himself finds it a disgusting and insulting perversion of what he stands for. He doesn't want people worshiping him — that's God's schtick. When he barges into a Satanic ritual and starts complaining, the coven like what he's saying and start chanting his words, causing Lucifer to complain that they're missing the whole point of being a rebel. In the end, the coven is portrayed as just a group of harmless kids, so when someone starts murdering them in 'human sacrifices', Lucifer is genuinely angry, as he regards them as misguided idiots, not evildoers who deserved to be punished, especially not in his name. Oh, and the whole Satanic obsession with goats? Turns out it's a centuries-old prank by Lucifer's brother Amenadiel, and Lucifer still hasn't figured out where it came from.note 
  • Inspector Morse. In "The Day of the Devil", a rapist who is a committed satanist escapes from prison. In this case satanism is just something the criminal uses to justify his sociopathic view of the world. He is a true believer though, which eventually causes his downfall.
  • Supernatural. Lucifer is accidentally resurrected by this type in Season 12 and is not impressed by the quality of his followers on Earth, quickly deciding to Neck Snap them as petty annoyances.

     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 (Perry had once been a Gospel singer herself).

     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 40,000: 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.
  • Humanoid cultists of Baphomet in Pathfinder have this sort of flavor, more so than the actual church of Asmodeus, the setting's Satanic Archetype, does.
  • This is the plot of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook House Of Hell, with the protagonist becoming stranded near an old mansion belonging to the Earl Of Drumer (and it's implied that he was deliberately lured there by being given false directions in the town). While the Earl puts on the image of a gracious host, he's in fact the leader of a local Satanic cult, which includes high-ranking political and social members of the nearby town, and they kidnap wayward travellers and out-of-towners to sacrifice to their dark masters. However, the Earl is not the Big Bad, it's his butler Franklin, who is in reality a Hell Demon in disguise

     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.
  • The first Manhunt title has the Innocentz, a group of Latin American hoodlums who has a couple of members that combine the worst aspects of Holier Than Thou and Eviler Than Thou with their Grim Reaper motifs and worship of Satan.
  • A lot of websites in Welcome to the Game are not so subtle about their Satan-worshiping.
  • The optional "Lucifer's Own" secret society in Crusader Kings gleefully serves Satan, granting its members unmatched dark powers in exchange for plentiful Human Sacrifice.

     Webcomics 

     Web Originals 
  • The Play By Post game What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf? features a boy who seems to practice this; possibly justified by the fact that he's thirteen, likely has no clue how Satanism works, and may or may not have a demon - or possibly the devil, himself in his head.
  • Inverted in the creepypasta story "The Satanist with Christian Friends", wherein the young protagonist is a Satanist and sees it as just as normal as being Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or whatever—but the reason his family has to keep moving every so often is that the Moral Guardians tend to find out and flip out with a vengeance. The story itself culminates with a "good Christian" trying to make the narrator (who is in grade school) repent of Satanism by any means possible—including invoking the Salem Witch Trials.
  • The creepypasta story "From Hell I Write" centers around a family of Hollywood Satanist|s that worship an ill-defined, goatlike demon that requires blood sacrifices, preferring the children of the neighborhood. The narrator's friend is a reluctant participant of these bizarre ceremonies, which eventually culminate in the narrator's entire family, including himself, being possessed by demons and condemned to Hell.

     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 be a bunch of sloppy hedonists, and are utterly horrified that Stopframe brought Orel to be a Virgin Sacrifice (they said to bring a virgin, they meant an adult virgin to join their orgy) and don't bother Orel at all (in fact, he gets along rather well with them). Coach Stopframe does wind up disgusted with them, but it's more because they're uncouth and unattractive than any religious reason.
  • South Park has the Woodland Critters, a group of cute talking animals who are also Satan worshipers that frequently participate in horrifying rituals such as sacrifices and blood orgies.

     Other 
  • The conspiracy theories associated with the Satanic Panic, full stop.
  • This article proves that at the very least, a few (keyword being a few) Satanist branches do adhere to some of the Hollywood stereotypes.
  • Gilles de Rais was infamously accused of killing children for satanic rituals. Whether or not these charges are true is debatable.

Top