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Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)

A Slavonic Mass by Leos Janácek plays as historical figures, biblical characters, and mythical creatures gather in the pleasure dome. Aphrodite, Lilith, Isis, Kali, Astarte, Nero, Pan, and ... See full summary »


Kenneth Anger (as Anger)


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Complete credited cast:
Samson De Brier Samson De Brier ... Lord Shiva / Osiris / Nero / The Great Beast
Marjorie Cameron Marjorie Cameron ... The Scarlet Woman / Kali
Joan Whitney Joan Whitney ... Aphrodite
Katy Kadell Katy Kadell ... Isis
Renate Druks Renate Druks ... Lilith (as Renata Loom)
Anaïs Nin Anaïs Nin ... Astarte
Paul Mathison Paul Mathison ... Pan
Curtis Harrington ... Cesare / Slave / Sleep-walker
Kenneth Anger ... Hecate
Peter Loome Peter Loome ... Ganymede


A Slavonic Mass by Leos Janácek plays as historical figures, biblical characters, and mythical creatures gather in the pleasure dome. Aphrodite, Lilith, Isis, Kali, Astarte, Nero, Pan, and the Great Beast and the Scarlet Woman are part of a visual feast of images superimposed, hallucinations, and the spirit of decadence of the "Yellow '90s." Mythological images from Aleister Crowley, cabalistic symbols, artifice, and magic combine to render the pleasure dome both as prison and as celebration. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Fantasy | Horror

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Inspired by Joris-Karl Huysmans novel "À rebours" (1884). See more »


References The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) See more »

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User Reviews

A celebratory rebellion against tedious repression.
28 January 2016 | by sunheadbowedSee all my reviews

Along with the dream-logic violence of his first film 'Fireworks', and the infamous leather 'n' engines homoerotica of 'Scorpio Rising', 'Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome' is one of Kenneth Anger's most powerful films, and the all-important centrepiece of his 'Magick Lantern Cycle' collection.

This film is a dizzying neon kaleidoscope of the rebellious imagination: drag queen-like, garish chameleons taunt us from behind ceremonial masks and drink a powder that transmogrifies them into drugged-up lusty creatures of bestial ecstasy; subliminal magick symbols appear and vanish, burning our eyes; black-and-white footage of a turn of the century film adaptation of Dante's Inferno glows as a sinister backdrop, its moonlight illuminating heathens being shovelled into pits of flame by demons -- all the while mocked by the laughing monsters of our own film in the foreground; faces emerge and disappear, dart and glide in and out of view, giving the intimate experience of being limbs-tangled-deep inside this orgy of occultism and colour.

This is one of Anger's longest short-films, and features Janáček's 'Glagolitic Mass' as both ironic and fitting soundtrack (other Anger films feature bubblegum rock 'n' roll and doo-wop of its era, adding a perverse sweetness to the subtlety malevolent imagery). With the added length, the film feels more exhausting and epic than some of Anger's shorter films, yet it lasts for under forty-five minutes.

'Inauguration' is queer cinema (before it existed), post-Cocteau Surrealism and Crowley-inspired, esoteric true-will in action, all at once. And, love or hate him for it, no other director is more responsible for MTV and music video culture in proceeding generations -- just without the Thelema, intelligence and intentional homoerotica (lots of unintentional homoerotica was retained).

A celebratory rebellion against the tedious repressions of religion and Christian 'morals', very brave, and really quite astonishing for the post-World War II 'new world' of 1950s cinema: 'Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome' is essential-viewing for fans of influential avant-garde, experimental cinema.

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