In this shocking close-up of America's white-supremacist movement, the members of the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Aryan Nations are chillingly relaxed, even genial, as they speak about the need to return the country to a state of racial purity. Most of Blood in the Face was shot during a white-supremacist convention held at a medium-size barn in the Michigan countryside. The participants range from housewives to long-haired kids, but most of them are bland, middle-aged men in glasses and mustaches who speak with all the rabid ferocity of members of the local PTA. Many were aware that the filmmaking team which includes Roger & Me's Michael Moore as one of the interviewers wasn't necessarily on their side, but that didn't seem to matter: They regarded the chance to speak into the camera any camera as another way to spread the Word.
Few of the Aryan cultists here express anything approaching overt malice. In a sense, this movement has gone past conventional racial hostility and into a kind of gonzo eugenics. These are people who, with stunning uniformity, call for the deportation of all black people to Africa, consider Jerry Falwell a ''Jew'' because he believes in the right of Israel to exist, and put forth fantasies of an impending race war that are no less apocalyptic than the ravings of Charles Manson. Many speak frankly about the primal anxiety that drives the white-supremacist movement the fear that people of Anglo-Saxon descent, whose alleged racial superiority is expressed by their ability to show ''blood in the face'' (that is, to blush), are being wiped out. Yet the supremacists' hateful agenda is put forth with a weirdly cheerful, do-it-yourself American bravado. A lot of them seem to be saying, ''When the race war comes, we'll be there with bells on.'' The movie isn't big on background, but it includes some fascinating footage of George Lincoln Rockwell, who spearheaded the American Nazi movement of the late '50s. There are also clips of the chillingly telegenic David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard who, in 1989, was elected to the Louisiana State House of Representatives. His entrance into the arena of legitimate politics should make one thing clear: that the people this movie reveals with such creepy intimacy can't quite be written off as irrelevant fanatics.