Everything Is Terrible! plumb the depths of hell in The Great Satan | Movie Review | Chicago Reader

Everything Is Terrible! plumb the depths of hell in The Great Satan 

Film clips prove “Satan is a total loser, and he knows it.”

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Jim Newberry

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 Maguire 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

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