We look at 7 Satanic horror movies that have sort of fallen through the pop culture cracks
Satan is everywhere! Since the dawn of cinema, Satan has been a presence, a point of fascination, especially in horror pictures which were – and remain – in essence, simple morality tales of good against evil; God against the Devil. In fact, the first recognized horror film ever made had a dash of Old Scratch in it, Georges Méliès‘ 1896 The Manor of the Devil and since then, Lucifer has been standing around, waiting for his turn to penetrate pop culture via the movies.
Of course, the spike in more serious-minded Satanic horror came in the late 1960s, specifically with the international attention given to Roman Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby, with the Devil infiltrating the life of an average woman who simply wants to have a child and a happy life. The domesticity of the Devil continued with landmark movies like 1973’s The Exorcist, 1976’s The Omen and even Michael Winner’s 1977 chiller The Sentinel, not to mention the glut of fantastic revisionist Satanic thrillers like 1975’s Race with the Devil and the endless spate of European knock-offs like Beyond the Door, Holocaust 2000 and more. And with The Exorcist and The Omen being turned into TV shows with varying results (and DC’s Lucifer coming back for a third season this Fall), the Devil is, er, hotter than ever.
But for every household name Satanic horror film, there are dozens of magnificent Mephisto-centric shockers that fall through the cracks. Today, we pick 7 of our favorite underrated Devil-soaked flicks that need top be held in higher regard. Have a look and share your own favorite Satanic horror movies in the comments section below!
Horror Hotel (1960)
Also known as City of the Dead, this tight, scary and atmospheric British masterpiece has gotten a bad rap because of its presence in pretty much every single public domain horror set found at every Wal-Mart since the dawn of home video. But it needs more respect, choked as it is with nihilism, Satanism, witchcraft and murder and worse. There’s a dash of Lovecraft and a hint of Psycho in this one and it also features a sinister turn by the great Christopher Lee.
Cry of the Banshee (1970)
Though it’s a troubled work and echoes Roger Corman’s superior Vincent Price Poe adaptation Masque of the Red Death and the Price masterpiece Witchfinder General, Gordon Hessler’s earthy shocker never gets enough love. Price is a devil-hating nobleman who is worse than the Satanists he despises. A great, strange and sometimes scary little horror film and Price is having a blast.
The Devil’s Nightmare (1971)
French/Italian/Belgian horror flick boast a stunning fuzz-rock soundtrack by the late Alessandro Allesandroni and a startling turn by Erika Blanc (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave) as a succubus who leads a busload of tourists to their dooms. Fellini fave Daniel Emilfork appears as the Devil and he’s a campy delight in this scary, sleazy and sexy Eurohorror gem.
The Mephisto Waltz (1971)
Simply put, this Quinn Martin production (the only feature film helmed by the legendary TV mogul) is one of the darkest, weirdest and most disturbing of the endless post-Rosemary’s Baby spate of romantic Satanic thrillers. In it, Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) stars as a failed pianist turned journalist who is taken under the wing of a too-friendly concert pianist (Curt Jurgens) and his comely daughter. The pair are actually Satanists and their designs on the younger man and his family are anything but generous. This is one classy, psychedelic and horrifying little movie and Alda – who many critics disliked upon release – is fantastic in his role as an easily swayed man who drags his family to hell in the name of ego. A masterpiece that needs to be worshiped accordingly!
Dark, depressing and lurid VHS favorite sees Clint Howard losing his mind as the pitiful Coopersmith, a kid at a military academy who is bullied beyond all reason and turns to Satanism to get revenge using his old school computer. Cruelty is the name of the game in this gory, upsetting flick that blends technology and the occult.
The Final Conflict (1981)
Panned upon release, this third entry in The Omen series is the best since the first, with a major early performance by the brilliant Sam Neill as Damien, the Antichrist, who is now the US ambassador and plots to bring on the apocalypse. Classy, gory, sexy and sophisticated stuff and it needs far more affection than it gets.
Angel Heart (1987)
Everyone who knows Alan Parker’s nightmarish adaptation of William Hjortsberg’s chilling pulp novel Falling Angel, worships it. Sadly, however, there’s still a generation of film lovers who have never seen it. The movie expertly grafts hard-boiled noir with supernatural horror with private eye Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke at his best) hired by a sinister dandy (Robert DeNiro) to find a missing crooner who may have been in league with Satan. A terrifying freefall into haunted imagery and even eerier sound that sticks with you for life.