Review Index


This 1969 short is the darkest and most psychotic of Kenneth Angerís films, a fragmentary evocation of black magic and late sixties-era psychedelia. 

The Package 
     INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER, running 11 minutes, was created from fragments of the first version of Kenneth Angerís LUCIFER RISING.  This version was left never completed due to the fact that much of the film was stolen.  What footage remained was assembled into the present work in 1969.
     Bobby BeauSoleil, one of the INVOCATIONíS performers, was initially contracted to do the music.  BeauSoleil became known for his association with the Manson Family, and later did the music score for the 1981 incarnation of LUCIFER RISING.  Other interesting people who figured in the production were the late Anton LaVay, founder of the Church of Satan, and Mick Jagger, who composed the filmís skin-crawling, ultra-repetitive score on a Moog Synthesizer.
     Filming took place in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where Anger was living at the time.  Anger now dubs the finished film ďthe last blast of Haight consciousness.Ē

The Story 
     In what looks like a late sixties hippie pad, several strange people smoke hash through a skull bong, all gathered around the corpse of cat.  The gathering devolves into a frenzied invocation of Crowlean magick presided over by none other than Anton LaVey, founder of the church of Satan. 
     Overlaid are images from an outdoor Rolling Stones concert, a Hellís Angels rally and troops being deployed to Vietnam.  The gathering, meanwhile, grows increasingly druggy and out of control, with several musicians joining the fray and the influence of LSD making itself felt.  Finally a shrunken African woman appears on a staircase holding a handwritten sign that proclaims: ďZAP...YOUíRE PREGNANT...THATíS WITCHCRAFT.Ē 

The Direction 
     INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER resembles Kenneth Angerís earlier INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME in many respects, but itís far wilder.  The former film was a stately mood piece focused on magic and decadence.  INVOCATION is also about those things, but itís shorter, faster and much, much darker.  The luminous imagery and dissolves of the earlier film have been replaced by fragmentary splashes of color separated by harsh, jagged edits.
     Much of what we see is disturbing--a naked man wielding a knife in distinctly ritualistic fashion, a cat with its eyes sewn shut, a man dancing in an endless circle around a satanic altar.  Such imagery, combined with Mick Jaggerís caterwauling synthesizer music, conjures an aura of evil and madness in which dark magick holds sway.
     The film is also quite evocative of a specific time and place, namely San Franciscoís Haight-Ashbery district in the late sixties.  Anger includes frequent snippets of Vietnam War and Rolling Stones concert footage to illustrate this point, along with many psychedelic effects (superimpositions, step-printing, etc.) common to the time.  The film may not be pleasant, but it is fascinating and deeply haunting.

Vital Statistics 


Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Cinematographer/Editor: Kenneth Anger
Cast: Speed Hacker, Lenore Kandel, William Kandel, Kenneth Anger, Van Leuven, Harvey Bialy, Timotha Bialy, Anton Szandor LaVey, Bobby BeauSoleil