INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME, THE (director/writer: Kenneth Anger; cinematographer: Kenneth Anger ; editor: Kenneth Anger; music: Leos Janacek; cast: Sampson De Brier (Lord Shiva, Osiris, Nero, The Great Beast), Marjorie Cameron (The Scarlet Woman, Kali), Joan Whitney (Aphrodite), Katy Kadell (Isis), Renata Loom (Lilith), Anaïs Nin (Astarte), Paul Mathison (Pan), Curtis Harrington (Cesare / Slave / Sleep-walker), Kenneth Anger (Hecate), Peter Loome (Ganymede); Runtime: 38; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kenneth Anger ; Mystic Fire Video; 1954)

"So arty, so weird, so magical, so trippy and so gay."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger ("Fireworks"/"Lucifer Rising"/"The Man We Want to Hang") directs this sensuous mouth watering madman ritualistic costume party that's so arty, so weird, so magical, so trippy and so gay. It's dedicated to the chosen few. The film is based on one of black magician Aleister Crowley's (Anger was a follower of Crowley) dramatic occult rituals where the cult figures smear on heavy doses of pancake makeup and don costumes to assume the identity of a god or a goddess. At this festive ball, which is deliciously filmed, a pretty young boy ends up violated by the intoxicated guests. It's Anger's perverse version of "people who take communion and one sees through their eyes." 

The action commences when Lord Shiva, the magician awakes. The Scarlet Woman, the whore of heaven, smokes a joint; Astarte of the moon brings the wings of snow; Pan bestows the grapes of Bacchus; Hecate brings on the sacred mushroom (psychedelic drug). Hecate's brew is passed around, but Pan's cup is poisoned by Lord Shiva. With that the orgy begins.

The mythological Greek and Egyptian figures include  -- Shiva, Aphrodite, Astarte, Ganymede, Pan and Bacchus.

Anger has said the dialogue-free film was inspired by a Halloween party at which guests were invited to "Come As Your Madness."There gathered a group of bohemian friends of the filmmaker at the home of Hollywood recluse Samson De Brier (with the most famous being the free-spirited novelist Anaïs Nin and the cult director Curtis Harrington) and they recreated the campy occult ritual.

REVIEWED ON 10/8/2009       GRADE: A

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"