Kenneth Anger’s “Scorpio Rising” (1964) reveals an intimate glance into an occult biker gang in New York. The symbolic incorporation of the Scorpio, the ruler of sex organs and machines, is used frequently to reinforce central themes within the film. Through a juxtaposing blend of popular rock music and uncensored erotic footage, the film reflects ideas of neo-Nazism, sexuality, religion, and rebellious subcultures of the time.
The film begins with footage of the gang as they meticulously polish and prepare their motorcycles. It becomes clear these objects serve as a symbol of pride, status, and worship, each one reflecting the distinct personalities of the individuals being documented.
The concept of male beauty and self-love is introduced as each subject begins to dress in a deliberate manner. Adorned in leather and chains, fashion serves as a fetishistic symbol of seduction and sexuality.
The film takes a thrilling spin once Bruce Byron is introduced to center stage as “Scorpio”, a neo-Nazi leader employed to lead his followers into organized rebellion.
Anger begins to elucidate his own views of organized religion through the incorporation of the Lutheran Sunday school film, “Last Journey to Jerusalem”, which was ironically placed between erotic party scenes and fetishistic subliminal messages. Scorpio’s powerful influence on his followers was paralleled to that of Jesus and Hitler alike, ultimately suggesting a “point of no return”.
director KENNETH ANGER
director of photography KENNETH ANGER
cast BRUCE BYRON
words KELLEN MULCAHY
More to read