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Monday, September 12, 2011

Christian Documentary from the 1980s Says Rock Is Satan's Music: Hell's Bells, Part 1

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 11:30 AM

In high school in the late 1980s, I wrote a book report on Tipper Gore's Raising PG Kids in a X-Rated Society. My report was primarily a list of the book's inaccuracies. I was incensed that Gore deliberately misquoted the Who by changing "you better bet your life, or love will cut you just like a knife" in "You Better You Bet" to the more phallic "my love will you cut you like a knife."

I didn't like the song in the first place, but changing Pete Townshend's words, even his most facile words, was not okay.


Nowadays I enjoy such things purely for the lulz, and few things are lulzier than the three-hour documentary released in 1989 by Reel to Real Ministries, Hell's Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll.

Whereas Tipper had to keep the overt "ROCK IS SATAN'S MUSIC" message subtle for political reasons, Hell's Bells has no such restrictions. You might not agree with the conclusion, but its heavy-montage methodology is never not entertaining.

Media-savvy and tastefully mustachioed host Eric Holmberg spends quite a bit of the three hours making a case that music has always been powerful. He claims that Emperor Shun felt that a "sick society" was indicated by "coarse and sensual" sounds (like sexy sandpaper, I guess):

He's not fond of popular artists who use Christian imagery, such as Prince and Madonna:

Backward satanic messages are of course treated like a real thing, and he references them for some savage, '80s-style pwnage of Wendy O. Williams:

You can watch the whole three-hour enchilada on DVD or on YouTube at the top of this post -- but only if you care about your soul! -- and one of these days we'll look at the 2002 sequel, the six-hour (and Plasmatics-free) Hell's Bells 2.

Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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