“Ricky was of the devil. When he was on acid, he’d go back into the dark woods, up in Aztakea, and he would talk to the devil. He said the devil came into the form of a tree, which sprouted out of the ground and glowed. I tried to question him about it, but he said, “I don’t like to talk about it. People think I’m nuts.”
Ricky would take ten hits of mesc in a night. He would take three; ten minutes later he’d take another three; and two hours later he’d take four more. He’d figured it out in his mind how to take the most without ODing Ricky is the acid king. “
—Mark Fischer, friend of “Acid King” Long Island teen murderer Ricky Kasso, in Rolling Stone magazine.
What the fuck did I just watch? is often the response to Tommy Turner and David Wojnarowicz‘s cult 1985 no wave/transgressive film Where Evil Dwells. Not because some viewers of this splatterfest are uncool dickheads but because there is no real cohesive story or structure to Turner and Wojnarowicz’s film—and people really do prefer things like structure and stories. Just ask James Patterson. Our savvy public are none too appreciative of being buttonholed by a would-be weirdo rambling incontinently about conspiracy theories, Satan, murder and devil dolls—people get enough of that shit on the evening news.
Moreover, to give 28 minutes over to watching this is a considerable investment of time for something that may not be that good after all—especially true in a world that’s marked out in 140 characters or less. But wait, let’s not be too hasty or too cynical, for there’s a reason there is no real story to Where Evil Dwells. It is (apparently) because this is all that remains of a much longer intended feature length project which was lost in a fire. The only footage that survived was put together for the Downtown New York Film Festival in 1985, which makes Where Evil Dwells interesting for what it could have been. And it certainly does contain some very interesting things.
Where Evil Dwells was loosely based on the PCP-fuelled murder of young Gary Lauwers in Northport, New York, on June 16, 1984. His killer, 17-year-old hesher Ricky Kasso was painted by the press as an occult dabbling, drug-addled Satan freak, and not without good cause. In an attack that went on for longer than an hour, Kasso burned Lauwers, gouged out his eyes and stabbed him somewhere between 17 and 36 times. At some point during the attack, Kasso is said to have commanded Lauwers to “Say you love Satan,” but Lauwers is said to have replied, “I love my mother.”
After Kasso bragged about Lauwers’ murder to several of his friends, claiming the killing was a “human sacrifice” that Satan (via a black raven) had commanded him to carry out, even taking some of them to see the decomposing body, an anonymous tip was made to police. On July 7, two days after his arrest, Ricky Kasso committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.
The Long Island Satan teen murder case was made famous nationally in a widely read 1984 Rolling Stone article (”Kids in the Dark” by David Breskin in the November 22 issue) and in the (nearly fictionalized) lurid “true” crime novel Say You Love Satan. Kasso—basically a troubled AC/DC loving idiot who became a very sucessful fuck-up—was almost made out to be the “new” Charles Manson by the likes of Sonic Youth, Big Audio Dynamite, the Electric Hellfire Club and the Dead Milkmen. Where Evil Dwells is not the only film or documentary to be made about Ricky Kasso, although it was the first.
More murder, LSD and Satan teens after the jump…