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Crypt of Curiosities: Satanism in Italian Cinema

It’s telling that the first feature-length film to come out of Italy was Dante’s Inferno (1911). Because of course, what else would it be? A silent, 68-minute adaptation of the classic poem that, quite memorably, features Satan munching on the souls of the damned. I suppose you could consider this film a tone-setter for the sort of genre films that would come out in Italy over the next hundred-plus years. The film is violent, demonic, and packed with full-frontal nudity. But most importantly, it was all about Hell.

Now, I know it should go without saying, but Italy is pretty big on that whole Catholicism deal. According to a survey conducted in 2005–2006, 87.8% of Italian citizens considered themselves to be Catholic. It should be no surprise, then, that while religious horror is prevalent in the United States, nobody can quite deliver a satanic panic like the Italians. And in the

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