Credit: Jim Newberry

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I want you to know something-Satan is a total loser, and he knows it.”

So begins the newest masterpiece stitched together by the found-footage
freaks at Everything Is Terrible! Having to date cultivated a collection of
tens of thousands of VHS tapes—not including the 15,000 copies of Jerry
amassed and converted into an art-project monstrosity—Everything Is
Terrible! finally decided to tackle the monster that mild-mannered
preachers have sermonized about on camera since the dawn of clunky yet
affordable audio-visual equipment. The Great Satan is an extraordinary
narrative about the deceptive power of Lucifer and how the evil he wields
manifests itself in everything from porn to drugs to Gene Simmons. It all
boils down to this: Never have sex or party-or think about having sex or
partying-unless sanctioned by God. And never, ever look Gene Simmons in the
eye. He’ll steal your soul.

As with the troupe’s previous DVD releases, what’s most impressive about
The Great Satan is EIT!’s skill at splicing together seconds of clips from
B-horror movies, church-funded public-access TV shows, and creepy
pop-culture relics to construct its own meta narrative. It’s artistry,
really. One of my favorite examples occurs in the few minutes that focus on
the abomination of sexual gratification outside of God’s intended purpose
of reproduction. Worked in to that sequence is a very brief clip from a
Chuck E. Cheese commercial during which the host asks, “Ever wonder what
goes on behind the scenes at Chuck E. Cheese?” Quick cut to what can most
accurately be described as a debaucherous demon orgy.

And that’s the brilliance of Everything Is Terrible! Their comedy doesn’t
particularly blossom from the clips themselves—though the clips are very
much fucking ridiculous in their own right—but rather through the grotesque
storyline the clips form when mangled together. Teenagers are evil, women
are evil, homosexuals are evil. Each baseless satanic-panic claim is given
its own repudiation via a dizzying showcase of, well, very dumb shit. And
very often that very dumb shit was composed by a witless jagoff who at some
point felt empowered enough to proselytize in front of a video camera. It’s
just fun to see EIT! lampoon an empty pseudo-sermon by placing it alongside
a supercut of exploding heads. Their editing is subtle but also not at all.

The Great Satan only runs around 75 minutes. But it moves at such a wildly
frenzied pace that if you can actually sit through the whole film without
taking a breather-or just getting up to get a beer-you are stronger than
most. While Everything Is Terrible! is first and foremost about creating
outsider video art through obscure found footage, it’s also about testing
whether you, the viewer, can take it. So perhaps they’re the most sinister
of all. If you were lucky enough to grab tickets for Tuesday’s live show at
Lincoln Hall, definitely expect a cavalcade of demonic costumes and human
sacrifices-as well as a screening of The Great Satan.   v