Chronicle Recommends: Satanic Films

Catch up with the Dark One's cinematic antics

Every month, the Chronicle’s film critics select a theme and offer movie recommendations. It's Halloween season, so we decided to spotlight our favorite depictions of the Father of Lies himself, Satan.

The Devil’s Rain (1975)

Despite rumors to the contrary, the eternal Ernest Borgnine is not God, but he is a self-admitted horny bastard in this indiscriminately awesome/nonsensical epic fail from director Robert “Dr. Phibes” Fuest. A paycheck-slumming all-star cast – William Shatner, Ida Lupino, Keenan Wynn, Tom Skerritt, John Travolta(!) – and script input from Van Dyke-sporting pop-cult beardo Anton LaVey, High Priest of the Church of Satan, render even the dopiest moments some kind of WTF wonderful. No less than John Carpenter borrowed heavily from this for his In the Mouth of Madness and, oh, the hell with it – Ernest Borgnine is God. Damnit. – Marc Savlov

Angel Heart (1987)

Robert De Niro plays Louis Cyphre, an enigmatic man who hires Mickey Rourke’s Harry Angel to find a missing singer who has returned from World War II with shell shock. If the characters’ names aren’t a dead giveaway, things become more clear as Harry falls down a rabbit hole of voodoo, satanists, and death by gumbo. Alan Parker packs enough atmosphere and noir tropes for three movies, and De Niro as evil incarnate never looked cooler. – Josh Kupecki

The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

Al Pacino hams it up in this Nineties slice of cheesy goodness. As head of a prestigious law firm in New York City, Pacino’s Satan sets his gaze on young lawyer Keanu Reeves (and his wife, Charlize Theron), looking for more souls to add to his collection. Everyone involved is totally committed to the convoluted story, but as always, Pacino brings his A-game, especially in his notorious monologue that accuses God of being an “absentee landlord.” – Josh Kupecki

Bedazzled (1967)

Even though its name was tarnished by a rubbishy remake in 2000, this 1967 comedy takeoff on the Faust legend more than lives up to its title. Bedazzled introduced the satiric sensibilities of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore to American moviegoers. Moore’s short-order cook is granted a series of wishes by Cook’s Devil, who constantly outwits him. Played with contemporary flourish by Peter Cook, this keenly sharp and funny Devil in red socks always struck me as more tempting and dangerous than any foul-smelling, cloven-hoofed demon. Even the Devil knows the way to win a girl’s heart is through humor. – Marjorie Baumgarten

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