Last week, the portal to another dimension opened, and ghastly, tentacled beings crawled through and… I’m just kidding. It was HP Lovecraft’s birthday on August 20, and to celebrate, Toronto’s monthly short film series Little Terrors co-hosted an event with Spectacular Optical, the people behind the new book Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia In The 1980s.
The event was held at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. A series of shorts directly or indirectly inspired by HP Lovecraft were shown in addition to a surprise screening of an episode of The Real Ghostbusters called “The Collect Call of Cathulhu.” During the intermission, several of the authors who contributed chapters to the Satanic Panic book went onstage to briefly discuss their contributions. The book was available for sale after the screenings.
All of the films shown were outstanding, with my personal favorites being “The Night Ocean” and “The Mill At Calder’s End.” Each had its own distinctive and disturbing quality and both were beautiful tributes to the Lovecraft style.
A couple of hilarious PSAs were also screened, including this one from filmmaker Joseph Nanni called “Elder Sign.”
Satanic Panic is the second book from Spectacular Optical. Here’s a synopsis from the Spectacular Optical website:
In the 1980s, everywhere you turned there were warnings about a widespread evil conspiracy to indoctrinate the vulnerable through the media they consumed. This percolating cultural hysteria, now known as the “Satanic Panic,” was both illuminated and propagated through almost every pop culture pathway in the 1980s, from heavy metal music to Dungeons & Dragons role playing games, Christian comics, direct-to-VHS scare films, pulp paperbacks, Saturday morning cartoons and TV talk shows -and created its own fascinating cultural legacy of Satan-battling VHS tapes, music and literature. From con artists to pranksters and moralists to martyrs, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s aims to capture the untold story of the how the Satanic Panic was fought on the pop culture frontlines and the serious consequences it had for many involved.
Future book launch events are scheduled in Victoria, Australia (including a screening of Trick Or Treat) on October 30 and London, England on October 8. Stay tuned to Spectacular Optical as more events will be announced in the coming months.
Little Terrors will start its new season on September 30. For more details, please like the Film Festival’s page on Facebook.
Full disclosure: I have a chapter in Satanic Panic called “All Hail The Acid King: The Ricky Kasso Case In Popular Culture.” (You can read more a little bit more about it on a recent post I made on the Everything Is Scary blog.)