New Documentary Series The Devil You Know Explores Satanist Pazuzu Algarad
A new five-part Viceland docuseries The Devil You Know focuses on the life of John Lawson, who infamously took the moniker Pazuzu Algarad.
Describing himself as a satanist, Lawson lived a life of excess that lurched from a prolific drug intake, to initiating sex orgies, animal sacrifices and - as it would turn out - much worse from inside his home in Clemmons, North Carolina.
Airing from Tuesday 27 August, the Patricia E. Gillespie-directed five-part series offers a no punches pulled look at the life of a disturbing character whose house became legendary in the area for its lawlessness, constant barrage of black metal music blasting out from its windows, endless partying and constant stream of visitors.
"He had followers - the misfits, the outcasts," says a narrator in the trailer for the new series, describing how this newfound sense of cult leadership helped transform Lawson into the Exorcist-referencing Pazuzu character he came to inhabit.
"People would come to Pazuzu's house because there were no rules," another interviewee says on the trailer, and this was literally true.
It wasn't uncommon to find the floors of the building covered in human excrement, Lawson content to allow his dogs to eat the mess, while footage in the documentary shows the home as something of a hoarders paradise. He was also known to drink the blood of birds, sacrifice rabbits and, in his own version of the Charles Manson Family, attempt to recruit acolytes.
As the series initially shows, many locals viewed Lawson as something of an absurd curio at best, even if he was a particularly troubled one. What tipped the balance was an idle boast of his in 2009 that he'd killed people and hidden the bodies in his basement.
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Lawson was initially accused of shooting Joseph Emmrick Chandler in 2010, along with a cohort; however he was somehow acquitted of all charges. What came back to haunt him though was those prior boasts.
After concerned associates of Pazuzu reported him to the police, they eventually undertook a search that initially found nothing. A second more thorough examination uncovered two bodies belonging to Tommy Dean Welch and Josh Wetzler, who had been missing for five years.
As The Daily Beast reports, Pazuzu allegedly buried these men with the help of two 'fiancées' in shallow graves. A resolution to these murders was never found, however; while awaiting trial in 2015, Pazuzu committed suicide in his cell.
The Devil You Know captures all of this in sometimes excruciating detail and looks at the causes and context of its chief subject's behaviour, focusing on how Pazuzu was simply ignored for a long time by both the police and his immediate society, forgotten about as he fell through society's cracks.
It looks at his influences, including 80's metal and horror films, and ultimately tries to place his story as emblematic of a larger issue within the US between the 'haves' and 'have nots'.
Whether this series succeeds in that or not, it's a compelling portrayal of one of America's more unique recent serial killers.
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