Underground Film Journal

Kenneth Anger

Kenneth Anger bares his chest showing his Lucifer tattoo

Kenneth Anger is one of the premiere figures of the American underground film movement. Born in Santa Monica, California, Anger began making avant-garde films as a teenager in the 1940s and continues to do so to this day.

His most famous film is Scorpio Rising (1963), an experimental documentary/narrative hybrid featuring a Brooklyn-based biker gang that he met in New York while living with Marie Menken and Willard Maas. His earlier film, Fireworks (1947) is considered a pioneering work of homoerotic filmmaking.

In addition to his filmmaking, Anger founded and ran with fellow avant-garde filmmaker Curtis Harrington a short-lived screening society and distribution organization in Los Angeles in the '40s.

Anger is also probably most famously known as the author of the hugely successful gossip book Hollywood Babylon.

Much of the below filmography was constructed out of the Underground Film Timeline, where you can find out more about Anger and his place in underground film history. Since Anger has been known to continually revise and re-edit — and sometimes abandon — his films, many of the films listed below have multiple dates.

Many of his earliest films have been restored and released on The Complete Magick Lantern Cycle DVD set.

Watch Streaming Films By Kenneth Anger:

Filmography

Uniform Attraction (2009)
Death (2009)
Brush of Baphomet (2009)
Ich Will! (2008)
My Surfing Lucifer (2008)
Foreplay (2008)
Elliott’s Suicide (2007)
I’ll Be Watching You (2007)
Mouse Heaven (2005)
The Man We Want to Hang (2002)
Lucifer Rising (1966-67, 1980)
Rabbit’s Moon (1950, 1979)
Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969)
KKK (Kustom Kar Kommandos) (1965)
Anger Aquarian Arcanum (1965)
Scorpio Rising (1963)
Histoire d’O (1959-61)
Thelema Abbey (1955)
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954, 1958, 1966)
Eaux d’Artifice (1953)
Maldoror (unfinished) (1951-52)
La Jeune Homme et La Mort (1951 or 1953)
La Lune des Lapins (unfinished) (1950)
Puce Moment (1949)
The Love That Whirls (unfinished) (1948)
Fireworks (1947)
Escape Episode (sound) (1946)
Drastic Demise (1945)
Escape Episode (silent) (1944)
The Nest (1943)
Prisoner of Mars (1942)
Tinsel Tree (1942)
Who Has Been Rocking My Dream Boat (1941)

Articles:

Kenneth Anger: 1966 Screening Of His “Magick Lantern Cycle”
The Magic Lantern is a device that dates back to the 1600s — and possibly the 1400s — and was used to project static images. According to the modern day Magic Lantern Society, Danish mathematician Thomas Rasmussen Walgensten was the first person to use the term “Laterna Magica” in the mid-1600s to describe his image
Robert Beck Memorial Cinema: 1998 Screenings
This is Part Two in a series of articles on the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema (RBMC). As detailed in Part One, the RBMC was an experimental film screening series in New York City, started by filmmaker Brian L. Frye. Frye programmed the first screening on May 12, 1998 at the Collective Unconscious theater space. The
Experimental Film Coalition: The Monthly Screenings
This is Part Two in a series about Chicago’s Experimental Film Coalition; and covers their screening series. Formed in 1983, the Experimental Film Coalition started holding regular monthly screenings starting in 1984. The screenings brought to Chicago the work of independent, experimental filmmakers across the country, as well as screening local work.
EXPRMNTL 3: 1963 Recap
1963 was a pivotal year in the history of avant-garde film in the United States. In Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney calls it “the high point of the mythopoeic development within the American avant-garde.” He explains: [Stan] Brakhage had finished and was exhibiting the first two sections of Dog Star Man by then; Jack Smith
Boston Film-Makers’ Cinematheque 1966-67: The Posters
In 1966, as the underground film wave was sweeping the country, a Boston off-shoot of New York City’s Film-Makers’ Cinematheque opened at a performance space at 53 Berkeley Street. Underground films were shown on weeknights, while on the weekends the space transformed into a music venue called The Boston Tea Party. The Cinematheque and the
Film Man’s Obscenity Conviction Reversed
From the Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1959: Conviction of Raymond Rohauer, 34, on the misdemeanor charge of exhibiting “obscene, indecent and immoral” motion pictures was reversed yesterday by the Appellate Department of Superior Court. Rohauer was arrested Oct. 11, 1957, at a theater he was operating, 366 N La Cienga Blvd., following the showing
Scorpio Rising — Kenneth Anger
Scorpio Rising by Kenneth Anger. Completed in 1963. The film opens with a title card of Anger’s production company. It reads “Puck Film Productions”, along with the tagline “What fools these Mortals be!” The film’s title appears about a minute and a half into it, which is studded onto the back of a man’s motorcycle
Scorpio Rising: The 1964 Los Angeles Obscenity Trial
In the Spring of 1964, Los Angeles theater manager Michael A. Getz was arrested and placed on trial for screening Kenneth Anger‘s Scorpio Rising. Below are several articles the Underground Film Journal has found that follow the progression of the case. From the Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1964: Festival Entry Scheduled for Cinema’s Screen
The Lid’s Off Morality! Hollywood Gets Word
A couple of weeks ago the Hollywood vice detail confiscated “Scorpio Rising,” a film made by Kenneth Anger, as “led in nature.” A few days later, the Ford Foundation named Kenneth Anger as one of “12 American creative film makers who will receive grants totaling $118,500.”