Elizabeth Horkley at The Baffler:
FOR THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX OF 1967, avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger performed an Aleister Crowley ritual at a theater in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The ceremony, intended to conjure the Egyptian deity of Horus, was filmed, eventually appearing in Anger’s 1969 short, Invocation of My Demon Brother.
In Invocation, the rite plays at an exaggerated speed, suggestive of a silent film’s frenzied pacing. Anger races across the stage, sets things on fire, waves a swastika flag, and commands convulsions from his audience. Watching the ceremony, you have to wonder: Were parents right to be worried about their flower children? Was the hippie pose, as they’d feared, just a disguise for Satan worshippers and acid-heads? Famously described as “an attack on the sensorium” by its creator, Invocation makes a case for the affirmative by forcing its viewer into fearful agreement with a torrent of psyche-searing documentary footage.