B.C. filmmakers explore ‘Satanic panic’ origins in new doc

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A new feature-length documentary from two B.C. filmmakers explores the “Satanic panic” that began over 40 years ago, the origins of which have ties to Vancouver Island.

Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams’ documentary, Satan Wants You, is premiering at festivals across Canada beginning Friday.

It explores the phenomenon that gained attention in the 1980s in North America where there was panic over thousands of unsubstantiated claims that children were being abused by Satanic cults.

The directors point out the origins of this panic began in Victoria, with a novel called Michelle Remembers.

“This is a story that every Canadian should know,” Horlor told CityNews.

The book was co-written by psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his patient, Michelle Smith, who claimed she had been kidnapped by a Satanic cult in her childhood. The two then travelled around the continent spreading rumours that similar things were still happening.

“We’re looking at 40 years worth of rumours that Michelle and Larry, who wrote the book, were responsible for starting the panic,” Horlor explained.

“She is patient zero of the panic.”

The panic really took hold, the filmmakers explain, when the situation was picked up by American daytime TV talk shows. It led people to become concerned about daycares and schools, fearing children were in danger.

“People in the 80s were convinced that there were Satanists all around them and they were trying to capture children and sacrifice them,” Adams said. “It turned into something that was much bigger than I think a lot of people realized.”

Adams’ and Horlor’s film takes a closer look at the origin of the book, speaking with family members of Smith and Pazder.

Content retrieved from: https://vancouver.citynews.ca/2023/05/05/bc-documentary-satanic-panic/.

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