×

Satan Hates You

A clever collision of flamboyant gore and social commentary that never goes too far with anything save mordant wit.

With:
With: Don Wood, Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Larry Fessenden, Bradford Scobie, Christina Campanella, Turquoise Taylor Grant, Matt Huffman, Michael Berryman, Ruth Kulerman.

Barreling into the intersection of horror, comedy and religious sanctimony, “Satan Hates You” is a clever collision of flamboyant gore and social commentary that never goes too far with anything save mordant wit. As the opening title states, “Satan” contains “no nudity, graphic sex or pornographic language,” but there are scenes of “shocking violence and deviant sin related to the lifestyles of those who dwell in Satan’s shadow.” Auds be warned: By watching, you risk “losing your immortal soul.” Smartypants horror fans will take that risk when pic opens.

The Puritan morality underlying so much American horror cinema is just one target lampooned by “Satan,” which was birthed by writer-director James Felix McKenney’s MonsterPants Movies and nurtured by Larry Fessendan’s eclectic Glass Eye Pix (whose catalog ranges from “I Sell the Dead” to “Wendy and Lucy”). Glass Eye’s horror brand is one of low-budget sophistication, and “Satan Hates You” meets the standard: Its characters are personifications of conflicted contemporary values, and their world is insane.

Party girl Wendy (think Never Never Land) is a human receptacle of drugs and lust; as played by Christine Spencer, she’s the classic madonna-whore figure, about to be permanently skewered on Lucifer’s pitchfork. Meanwhile, Marc (Don Wood) — who frequents the same 66 Club patronized by Wendy, her acerbic sister, Holly (Christina Campanella), and their seeress sidekick, Serena (Turquoise Taylor Grant) — is already damned and dangling from the horns of an infernal dilemma: Gay and terrified by the prospect, he allows himself to be picked up by men at the 66 (where’d the other “6” go?), but then feels compelled to murder them violently.

The habitues of Wendy’s neighborhood certainly have their problems, and they’re exacerbated by the two hand-wringing horned demons, Glumac (Fessenden) and Scadlock (Bradford Scobie), who hang around the place, egging on their prospective co-inhabitants of perdition to make the worst choices possible. Fessenden and Scobie, as the film’s un-Greek anti-chorus, are very funny, as is the fact that every TV in view is broadcasting some religious huckster offering salvation for a price.

The counterweight to all this, and the film’s masterstroke, is the performance of Angus Scrimm (“Phantasm”) as Dr. Michael Gabriel, who appears only on Wendy’s TV, or in her room, and whose measured, comforting message of true salvation and divine solace make a viewer wonder if helmer McKenney is out to topple Gantry-esque idols, or is really on a mission from God. You wonder again when the film serves up a scene of borderline-medieval horror that pulls the comedic rug out from under the movie; this and other similar moments are jarring but not entirely ineffective tonal shifts in a pic that otherwise strives to lampoon everything it rubs up against.

These include a fairly hilarious recurring riff on Dungeons & Dragons and its acolytes; the dopey hysteria of Holly, who, after a friend has a drug-induced heart attack, starts spraying the room with air freshener; and the confused righteousness of Marc, who’d rather be a serial killer than come out of the closet.

Production values are adequate, although the rave scenes and underpopulated sense of “Satan’s” New York make the movie’s budgetary shortcomings a little obvious. But solid acting support is provided by horror vets Michael Berryman, Reggie Bannister and Ruth Kulerman, as the meddlesome hotel owner from hell.

Popular on Variety

Satan Hates You

Production: A Glass Eye Pix presentation of a MonsterPants Movie production. Produced by Larry Fessenden, Lisa Wisely, James Felix McKenney, Jeremiah Kipp. Directed, written, edited by James Felix McKenney.

Crew: Camera (color), Eric Branco; music supervisor, Lisa Wisely; production designers, Clifford Steele, Laree Love; art directors, Love, Steele; set dressers, Beck Underwood, Love, Steele, Lisa Georgetti; costume designer, Chase Tyler; sound, David Groman; sound design, Graham Reznick; re-recording mixer, Tom Efinger; special-effects makeup, Daniel J. Mazikowski; assistant director, Jeremiah Kipp. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Dec. 11, 2010. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Don Wood, Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Larry Fessenden, Bradford Scobie, Christina Campanella, Turquoise Taylor Grant, Matt Huffman, Michael Berryman, Ruth Kulerman.

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content