‘Sacrifices must be made’
Satanic Panic is a 2019 American comedy horror film directed by Chelsea Stardust (Into the Dark: All That We Destroy; short: Seeing Green – see below) from a screenplay by Grady Hendrix (Mohawk; author Paperbacks from Hell book), based on a story co-written with Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here).
It was produced by Dallas Sonnier, Adam Goldworm (My Friend Dahmer) and Amanda Presmyk (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) and stars Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O’Connell, Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, Arden Kyrin, AJ Bowen.
When a pizza delivery girls’ final order of the night turns out to be for a blood-hungry group of Satanists thirsting for a sacrificial offering, all hell breaks loose… literally.
“Now this is what’s known as situational irony.”
Satanic Panic is a gleefully refreshing horror-comedy. Aside from being genuinely funny, it’s splendidly cynical without being too snidey, even when it references the have and have-nots of the American social divide.
Admittedly, the plot is hardly original but the delivery is decidedly zesty. It more than makes up for a few overly-camp performances (Arden Myrin in particular) and some prose that’s overly purple at times. So how else do you joke about sacrifices to Baphomet? And, as the movie notes, we’re not talking about the German metal band here. The social class snipes are exaggerated and often absurd. But hell, this is a gleefully zany comedy, who cares about supposedly realistic dialogue?
Acting honours go to Hayley Griffith who elicits just the right amount of innocence and final girl pizzaz as “pizza delivery person” Sam, Rebecca Romijn as the haughty high priestess whose position is almost usurped, and Jerry O’Connell’s brief turn as her disinterested hubby Samuel.
In scene after scene, amusing surprises such as the use of a kildo (no, that’s not a typo) and a flying soul soufflé are revealed that can’t be discussed in too much detail here lest they spoil the fun.
Chelsea Stardust’s direction focuses on the minute details that make a manic movie like this work well: actors’ baffled looks to camera, swift cuts to supernatural shenanigans, some hand-held shots of grue and close shots that involve the audience in the action. The final ceremony is gleefully OTT and there’s a cute coda that’s fitting in terms of Sam’s character.
It’s all female-focused frivolity too, both in front of and behind the camera. The male characters are all creepy and marginal. And dammit if it doesn’t make you crave a pizza too. Preferably devilishly red-chilli hot.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
Other reviews [click links to read more]:
” …the self-aware YA-isms of Grady Hendrix’s script are flattened under an avalanche of careless pacing and cartoonish overacting. The final result is fitfully fun, succeeding mostly in the Shaw Brothers-style grotesquerie of the black magic scenes and in Rebecca Romijn’s performance as the coven’s glamorous head witch.” AV Club
“The comedy is emphasized over the horror, and the sight gags and jokes land with mixed results. There’s a fun movie to be had here and plenty that will entertain casual viewers. But it’s hard to discern just who the target audience is when it’s all over the map tonally and the script doesn’t seem to align with the director’s vision.” Bloody Disgusting
” …what comes out in the wash is a sharp-looking horror-comedy that working-class weirdoes can smirk along with. An inebriated ending feels like it comes from a compromised schedule as opposed to creative intention. Yet through all the bumps in its road, Satanic Panic stays consistently offbeat enough to be enjoyably engaging. Culture Crypt
” …Satanic Panic is the kind of horror film of which we don’t get enough: the party movie, the sort you want to watch in a group and rowdily react to every insane beat. It’s no empty genre exercise, either, as it has things to say about friendship, facing your fears, and finding your independence.” Daily Dead
” …as sassy Judy Roby Modine gets all the best lines. Praise too for Rebecca Romijn as coven leader Danica, all cheekbones and withering looks. If there’s one thing that slightly lets the movie down it’s a rather muddled and abrupt last reel, but most of the movie is so good this can ultimately be forgiven. See it.” Dark Eyes of London
“Action-packed and witty, this flick has more gore than you can shake a severed arm at. It also goes big with comedy […] Funny, brutal, and a bit campy, Satanic Panic is a lot of fun. It’s not scary, but as far as horror-comedies go, it’s a fine flick worthy of praise…” Horror Fuel
” …beyond the buckets of blood and body parts lie genuinely funny interactions spread throughout an absurdly capable and noteworthy cast. Names like Rebecca Romijn, Ruby Modine, Jerry O’Connell, Arden Myrin, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and AJ Bowen ensure that Satanic Panic’s campy heart plays out the best that it possibly can.” Modern Horrors
“A late-night romp for ghouls and gorehounds, audiences will hoot at the raunchy horror and appreciate the witty, wordy dialogue from our youthful leads. The final delivery may not be quite what we ordered, but pizza is good every way you serve it.” Nightmare on Film Street
“The tropes are also quite familiar, but avoid slipping into outright cliche. I would also hesitate to suggest that this film breaks a ton of new ground. It just follows a familiar path very amusingly. I did find this movie to be more amusing than the somewhat similarly themed film, Slice...” The Scariest Things
“Satanic Panic proves to be a perfectly decent movie–offering decent pacing, practical effects, and a handful of amusing scenes, but falls short in story and where things could’ve led, especially in the third act. There’s quite a bit of lost potential, possibly due to budgetary reasons, but regardless it’s still an above-average horror flick…” UHM
RLJE Films, a division of AMC Networks (who also own Shudder), released Satanic Panic on DVD and on Blu-ray on October 22nd 2019. Special features:
The Making of “Satanic Panic”
Sam & Judi
Danica Ross: “Are you ready to fully commit yourself to Satan?”
Judi Ross: You have the survival instincts of a giant panda bear. Stay the f*ck away from me.”
Danica Ross: “Soul souffle, anyone?”
Danica Ross: ” …You think I like running around in silly robes murdering my children? But you either got in the game or sit on the sidelines.”
Cast and characters:
Rebecca Romijn … Danica Ross
Jerry O’Connell … Samuel Ross
Jordan Ladd … Kim Larson
Ruby Modine … Judi Ross
Hayley Griffith … Samantha ‘Sam’ Craft
Arden Myrin … Gypsy Neumieir
Whitney Moore … Michelle Larson
Michael Polish … Gary Neumieir
Jeff Daniel Phillips … Steve Larson
Clarke Wolfe … Gracie
AJ Bowen … Duncan Havermyer
Hannah Stocking … Kristen Larson
Nellie Sciutto … Satan Worshipper
Gina Hughes … Danielle
Skeeta Jenkins … Mr Styles
Mike E. Winfield … Karim
Chance Gibbs … Cult Member
Aaron N. Martin … Danielle’s Husband
Pam Dougherty … Cat Lady
Maya Perkins … Samaziel
Steve Stodghill … Slaughterhouse
Mitch Loesel … Cult Member
Emma Campbell … Baphomet
Cole Cordell … Frat Guy
Riley Cusick … Pizza Delivery Guy
Nathan Hartley … Cult Member
Ranger Lerway … Jordan
Jonas Lerway … Timber
Andrew Wills … Cult Member (uncredited)
Satanic Panic premiered at the 2019 Overlook Film Festival.
In the USA, retail chain Walmart censored the word ‘Satanic’ on their slipcover for the Blu-ray release. Previously, the company changed the title of Deathgasm into Heavy Metal Apocalypse. Remember, Walmart happily sells guns that can be used to kill people in real life. Comedy horror movies don’t kill people. Don’t buy this movie from Walmart.