HAIL SATAN! Those are of course the words you would expect every rich white suburban mum to utter when putting on a spread for her equally as upper-class and stuck-up parental group. However, in Satanic Panic, director Chelsea Stardust explores the possibility of the secret behind rich elitist success and power being the fact that they have sold their souls to the Devil, and the conspiracy just seems to fit so well. Even though some might think that it sounds like a dig at those with money, it’s far from that; the film feels like a harmless joke amongst friends, one that makes fun of the rich but also the blue collar worker.
Sam is a newly employed pizza delivery girl, and it’s her first night on the job. After making no tips from her deliveries, she jumps at the chance to deliver an out of zone pizza order to a place call Mill Basin – expecting a big tip as it’s where all the rich reside. Once Sam arrives she once again receives no tip… Soon she realises her moped is out of gas and she can’t even leave until she’s received some form of tip. She enters into the house to demand money, but quickly becomes a part of a Satanic summoning and has to fight against a coven for her life.
Satanic Panic could never have been made as a film that takes itself seriously, which is why Stardust made it into something short of slapstick for Satanists, which works incredibly well. From the very beginning of the film, the humour is well-timed and well-paced, delivered to the audience fresh, hot and with the right toppings, just like a good pizza. Some of the comedy is a little weird and quirky, a lot of it plays on the class divides that are seen throughout the film, but most of it takes everyday aspects and uses them in a satanic situation. Rather than using cult names, those who are part of the coven are called Jerry or Kim, which in a setting talking about human sacrifice really does get the audience chuckling.
In places the film is completely OTT, and feels very campy but that’s one of the reasons it works so well. It doesn’t try to shy away from the fact it goes above reality, it basks in it and knows it is a film that feels a little too much at times. Which is why some of the death scenes are inventive, stupid and hard not to love; something that wasn’t expected was the “killdo” which is an exceptionally large dildo drill designed to slaughter the person getting pounded within minutes. It is an absolutely ridiculous yet inventive piece of equipment for killing someone, but again, runs with its own ridiculousness. With the out there death scenes comes some amazing effects, including lots of bloody gore, squeamish body mutilation, squelching gooey guts and 8 foot demonic creatures with furry features.
The aspect of Satanism is quite well-done in the film, and doesn’t feel like it has been forced. In many films about devil worshiping, they lack the supposed knowledge to make rituals seem believable, but Satanic Panic tries harder than most. The usage of words is interesting, making sure the audience understands that this coven know their demons from their Devil, and their monsters from their goblins. The language for rituals sounds realistic, the spells have actions that make sense and overall it helps to immerse us in the satanic world. Rebecca Romijn as head of the coven Danica Ross is one of the best parts of the film; not only does she have the look of mistress of evil perfected, but she also delivers a performance that is truly how most of us would imagine the head of a satanic cult to act.
The downside to Satanic Panic is that it becomes a little too drawn out towards the ending – the comedy slips a little and the pace doesn’t quite hold it together. It feels like the script is not as tight or sharp towards the end, and about 10 minutes could have been cut to get things feeling a little more concise for the audience. Fortunately it doesn’t falter the film too much and doesn’t leave us feeling like too much was sacrificed.
Satanic Panic is the perfect midnight movie to be watched with friends, pizza and beers, which was exactly the setting for myself as I was invited to enjoy the film at a special screening at Lost Boys Pizza. It doesn’t take itself seriously, which means you don’t have to either, ensuring even the most absurd and goofy scenes are still fun to watch. It’s schlocky, campy with gore-slathered murders and one joyous hell ride.
Directed by: Chelsea Stardust
Written by: Ted Geoghegan, Grady Hendrix
Cast: Rebecca Romijn, Arden Myrin, Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, AJ Bowen