Tuesday, October 30, 2012


"The World's Smallest Violin" inks on paper
The Devil takes many forms here on Earth and also in the realm of imagination.  The high art of cinema has offered us many incarnations of Satan throughout decades of movie magic. Tonight is Devil's Night USA and we're celebrating here at DREGstudios with my own personal Top 10 Satanic Performances which have graced the big screen.  

SPOILER ALERT:  In a few of these flicks, it is a plot twist that the Devil is even a character so fair warning.  

"Talk of the Devil, and his horns appear."  -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

From the mind of Terry Gilliam comes a traveling carnival with a Faustian twist! Tragically, Heath Ledger passed away before his role was completed for this movie so Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell all dove in to finish filming. By splitting up the actor's unfinished scenes, the cast made four performances of one character's role.  A frequent flyer on Gilliam's adventures, Tom Waits serves his swagger to the role of Mr. Nick (better known as The Devil.)  Tom does what he does best when he's not making one-of-a-kind muzak with his wild voice and wit.

09.  Walter Huston in All That Money Can Buy (1941)

Better known as The Devil and Daniel Webster, this classic movie is another tale rooting from the legend of Faust (who sells his soul to the Devil.)  Huston plays the devilish Mr. Scratch who tricks the desperate Daniel Webster into selling his soul in return for prosperous returns on his crops.  In a purely American fashion, the Devil goes to court over ownership of the farmer's soul as both sides argue their case in an ensuing courtroom drama.  This gem of black and white cinema stands today with great acting to drive the story.

08.  Tim Curry in Legend (1985)

One of the most versatile and flamboyant actors in history, Tim Curry became brutal, bulging and terrifying for his role of Darkness for Ridley Scott's fantasy epic.  In his role, he wore a ton of makeup and prosthetics to transform into the horned, red-toned demon of lore.  The pseudo Satan's mission is to create an eternal darkness over the world with the extinction of the fabled Unicorn. A plethora of fairies, goblins, an elvish Tom Cruise and sweeping scenery create another world for the audience.  Legend is a modern and dark fairy tale which really benefits from the director's sense of set design and detail.  

07,  Peter Cook in Bedazzled (1967)

The Devil can arrive at any time with the alluring temptation of the seven deadly sins.  He shows up here in Bedazzled at Whimpy Burger to offer Dudley Moore seven wishes.  Turning Satan into a genie of sorts, the movie takes a tour of all the deadly sins with the young man's attempts to woo the attentions of 60's bombshell Raquel Welch.  The film was remade all too soon recently with a gender-bending she-devil in Elizabeth Hurley

06.  Robert De Niro in Angel Heart (1987)

Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) gets neck deep in a trail of voodoo leading from New York City to New Orleans in this literal bloodbath of a film.  Louis Cyphre employs Angel's skills as a private eye for his own mysterious purposes.  Little does the detective know he's fallen under the spell of a much more macabre agenda.  The roll of Cyphre is executed with razor precision by De Niro who claims he was simply impersonating director Martin Scorsese.  This one is full of twist, turns, a maze of graphic murder and plenty of sex under a flood of ruddy rain. 

05.  Peter Stormare in Constantine (2005)

Loosely based on the comic book Hellblazer, this movie starts as demon-busting action-packed fiesta and ends as a battle between Heaven and Earth.  Stormare arrives late in the story for a very short role in the film with unforgettable style as Lucifer himself.  The character plays an instrumental role in the outcome of the story and serves as an architect of good (so his deeper evil may prevail elsewhere?)  Demons, electrocutions, special effects galore and spirit walks through the fiery infernos of Hell drive this movie with plenty of entertainment.  A great cast doesn't hurt rounding out this adaptation. 

04.  Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate (1997)

In the form of John Milton, Pacino gets to wreck havoc through calculated maneuvering of the pawns he keeps at his disposal.  In the game of law, there are plenty of players in need of defense from suffering consequences brought about by the evils they conjure to the human world.  This is where Milton excels with his law firm and team of truth-swayers led by the young Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves.)  New York City sets the perfect backdrop in the exploration of the exploitation of sin.  Pacino seduces and shines as the prince of darkness and king of manipulation.  In more than one scene, he cuts like a knife.

A natural devilish grin makes it look easy for Daryl Van Horne (Nicholson) as he seduces three small-town gals played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon and Cher in this adaptation of the novel by John Updike. Nicholson brings a crude and vulgar sense of adventure to these divorcees' lives, capturing them in his web of sinful intentions.  The movie features Nicholson doing what he does best with his own uniquely wicked tone every moment he's on screen.  He creates the most flamboyant satanic incarnation on the list.

02.  Viggo Mortensen in The Prophecy (1995)

Christopher Walken heads up the cast as Gabriel in this cult classic with a uniquely gothic story.  In a war between Heaven and Earth, Walken and his undead minions are collecting the evilest souls on earth to wage a war against man (which he degrades to the slur of "monkey.")  Satan arrives for a few very short but powerful scenes in the final act of the movie.  Mortensen fills the role of ultimate villain like no other with a hissing twist to his few but powerful lines.  The Devil has his own intentions and sometimes must intercede on the behalf of man.  Similar to the ending of Constantine mentioned above, Mortensen's Lucifer interferes to become the antihero of the story and salvation of mankind. 

01.  Max Von Sydow in Needful Things (1993)

A mysterious man in black sets up shop in Stephen King's Castle Rock and the town is never the same again.  Leland Gaunt (Von Sydow) has his hands on many strings as he plays his orchestra of puppets in the characters of this story.  Needful Things is a store with a little something special for everyone but no checks, credit cards or cash are accepted.  Mr. Gaunt only barters in deeds.  Von Sydow gives a Shakespearean delivery and a cold calculated tone to this architect of evil bringing his acting career full circle from playing Jesus nearly thirty years the prior in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

"It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui."   -Helen Keller

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