THE DEVIL TAKES ON MANY FORMS AND THE CAMERA LOVES THE LIGHT BRINGER. HERE ARE TEN OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES FEATURING HIS SATANIC MAJESTY.
WATCH THESE FILMS AT YOUR OWN RISK!
1.THE MERRY FROLICKS OF SATAN-1906
Eerie and innovative, George Melies was the first true filmmaker. He was a stage magician by trade and he saw film as a new way to expand his magic act. Film to him was a way to perform tricks for the audience. This desire pushed him to explore innovation in cinema, featuring such odd sights as people juggling their own decapitated heads, and skeleton horses drawing carriages across the cosmic night. The famous Trip To The Moon shot of a rocket landing right in the eye of a clay moon will forever be branded upon the collective mind. His films are avant garde in the truest sense of the word.
He seemed particularly fascinated with the Devil as a protagonist, and made many films, starring himself, as the Devil. All the films have a mood of levity and merriment, which actually makes them even more sinister. For a romp through the light side of Satanism, enjoy these early films. They are visual feasts of whimsy and strangeness.
2.THE BLACK CAT-1934
This classic horror film directed by Edgar Ulmer is eerie, atmospheric, and steeped in tragedy. Boris Karloff is terrifying an unsettling as Hjalmar Poelzig, architect by day, Satanic Black Magus by night. Bela Lugosi plays Dr. Vitus Werdegast, a Hungarian Psychologist who lost his wife years prior. These two men battle for the same woman in this tale of love and betrayal, torture, and Satanic obsession.
3.THE 7TH VICTIM-1943
Directed by Mark Robson and produced by Val Lewton, this film is timeless and as eerie today as it was in 1943. The film stars Kim Hunter as Mary, a student who’s sister has gone missing. She sets off to find her and in doing so, finds herself in the thick of a Satanic cult that is trying to lure her towards her own demise. This film is psychological horror and suspense at its finest. It does not rely on cheap thrills to get you jumping from your seat. Instead, it builds an aura of dread that has you crawling out of your skin from start to finish.
4.THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY-1945
“A man should live out his life fully and completely, give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream, every impulse that we suppress broods in the mind and poisons us. There is only one way to get rid of temptation and that is to yield to it. Resist it, the soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself. There is nothing that can cure the soul but the senses, just as there is nothing that can cure the senses but the soul.”
George Sanders as the mouthpiece for Oscar Wilde’s philosophy of decadent aesthetics makes for a deliciously evil confection, so diabolically sweet that it will rot your teeth right out of your skull, in this film adaptation by Albert Lewin of the classic novel from 1890. A very young Angela Landsbury as tragic love interest, Sibyl Vane, adds beauty and sparkle to this dark tale of narcissism and murder.
“HE HAS HIS FATHER’S EYES.”
Roman Polanski adapts Ira Levin’s suspenseful novel to great success in this William Castle production. Mia Farrow plays the fragile Rosemary Woodhouse, surrounded by an unsettling cast of characters who close in on her as the plot thickens. This film is eerie, artistic, powerful, and still as scary as the day it was released. The tension builds as the baby grows inside the confused, exhausted, and expectant mother. You feel everything that Rosemary feels. You might as well be inside her skin.
6.INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER-1969
“ZAP YOU’RE PREGNANT THAT’S WITCHCRAFT.”
Invocation Of My Demon Brother is the symbolic death knell of peace and light. The glow of hippie love shifts into the blinding light of Lucifer. This film tells a story of a decade that is ending in chaos. Imagery of goats, dead cats, Vietnam war footage, The Rolling Stones in concert, orgies, and Nazi flags, are inter-cut with Kenneth Anger himself as Magus, conducting a strange ritual while tripping on LSD. The soundtrack is Mick Jagger playing a Moog synthesizer. It adds an unsettling and jarring energy that sounds like torture, dread, and gunshots. Anton LaVey, founder of The Church of Satan, plays His Satanic Majesty and Bobby Beausoleil, future Manson Family member, plays Lucifer. Watch this film at your own risk. Its dark magick only intensifies with age.
7.THE HOLY MOUNTAIN-1973
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain is sacred and profane all at once. It is a hallucinatory experience as you travel from different planets and states of being. Inspiring and fantastical, sacred geometry is juxtaposed with strange rituals and ceremonies in one man’s quest for total purity. You will never be the same again, because Jodorowsky is a magician and the silver screen is where he draws his sigils. Alchemy and strange sex marry in this lyrical masterpiece that you will never forget as long as you live.
8.THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA-1973
Christopher Lee stars in his classic role as Dracula. This is not the mildly sexual Hammer of the early 70’s. This is Hammer letting it all hang out. There is nudity and blood sacrifice. There is twisted sexuality oozing from every pore. If you like your vampires sexy, trashy, and terrifying, this is the film for you.
Pure terror. Pure hell. Dark humor at it’s pure blackest. Clive Barker does what he does best in this film, which is to scare the shit out of you and make you love every moment. This is A+ horror and a riveting exploration of the darkness inside the heart of man and the torment that awaits the soulless. Doug Bradley as Pinhead makes your skin crawl in the most delicious way.
10.THE NINTH GATE-1999
If anyone knows about true evil it is Roman Polanski. His own life sounds like something out of a tragedy or a horror novel and he brings his dark obsessions to fruition in this sublime satanic murder mystery. Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a jaded and disillusioned used book seller to rich and eccentric book collectors all around the world. When Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), a client obsessed with finding the book that will raise Satan himself hires him, Dean Corso sets off on a strange journey that will take him into the homes of other Devil devotees and book collectors all over Europe. His journey leads him back to Liana Telfer (Lena Olin) and her merry band of Satanists. The eerie atmosphere builds and builds in this fascinating journey through the gates of hell.
Leza Cantoral is the author of Planet Mermaid and editor of Walk Hand in Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired by True Detective. She writes a feminist column about noir film for Luna Luna Magazine called Shades of Noir and writes about pop culture for Clash Media. Her upcoming collection of short stories, Cartoons in the Suicide Forest, will be coming out later this year through Bizarro Pulp Press. You can find her short stories at lezacantoralblog.wordpress.com Twitter @lezacantoral