These days we don’t blink if we see a pentagram spray-painted in a local park, but there was a time when suburban America was absolutely terrified of satanic cults. Occult rituals became primetime topics as news stations broadcast reports of stolen babies, ritual sacrifice, and sexual abuse done under the command of evil cults worshipping the devil himself.
Satanic Panic was big business in the late 80s and early 90s, spawning hundreds of books, videos, and television specials aimed at instilling fear of the occult into soccer moms across the country, and it worked. In fact, it worked so well that law enforcement agencies everywhere began to investigate typical teenage graffiti as evidence of a satanic presence.
The Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults is one of these videos, and it’s a hell of a watch, if you’ll pardon the pun. Featuring “occult experts” with mullets that would put Billy Ray Cyrus to shame, interviews with alleged victims of satanic rituals, and dusty old men who dare to ponder how far America’s freedom of religion should extend, the 73-minute VHS tape is a glimpse into the Satanic Panic era that’s as frightening as it is hilarious.
You can watch the whole video below, and if you watch it to the end, you’ll be treated with a cringe-inducing clip of a woman in a bikini being preened over by a weird old dude demonstrating a ritual sacrifice, complete with dotted lines showing where to slice and dice your victims.
While it’s easy to laugh at the cheesy, alarmist, and obviously over-the-top assumptions in the video, it’s important to remember that this was actually used to train police. Videos like this resulted in countless metal-heads, goth kids, and occult enthusiasts becoming unfairly singled out as suspects in crimes they didn’t commit. It happened once, and it could happen again.