|HORROR / THRILLER|
The Devil is many things to many people, but theres no denying the lurid lure of His everlasting appeal, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned. Special-interest publisher McFarland Publishers has released THE DEVIL ONSCREEN, which takes a leer at the way Satan has been portrayed in the movies since 1913.
has assumed many shapes and forms, in horror, comedy, fantasy, and even
musical, and many actors have donned the horns and pointy tale for the
role. And it seems that the role is one to die for, if not surrender ones
soul, considering the A-list of stars
Among the best features of the book are the notable quotes of each movie, such as this gem from LISA AND THE DEVIL spoken by the Savalas version of Old Nick: What does tradition mean to a poor Devil like me? More work and fatigue.
Or how about this quip in THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (the 1942 version, not the 1997 Al Pacino / Keanu Reeves movie)? Adolf Hitler, displaying his prowess in painting, says to the Devil, I can change hands without missing a stroke.
Then theres the merely stupid, as when Jesse Ventura says to devilish Linda Blair in the widely-panned 1990 film REPOSSESSED: Satan, youve got him on the run. What move are you going to use next?
And, of course, theres this Max von Sydow classic in Stephen Kings NEEDFUL THINGS, in response to a reference to Jesus: The young carpenter from Nazareth? I knew him well, a promising young man. He died badly.
Burgess Meredith* stepped to the plate twice as the boogiest of men, in TORTURE GARDEN and one of my favorites, THE SENTINEL. De Niro has also played the role at least twice (ANGEL HEART).
The part has been split into male/female in the same movie, and sometimes into multi-generational roles, because apparently Lucifer occasionally desires an offspring. Though Mia Farrow in ROSEMARY'S BABY instantly springs to mind when thinking of hellish reproduction, that film is not included in the book because the Horned One appears only in cameo as a set of yellow eyes, therefore not meeting the authors criteria of a bona fide screen appearance. And to think the Devil didnt get his due, or at least the Screen Actors Guild minimum for a speaking part, in that classic. Perhaps He needs a better agent.
also features an appendix listing of cult, short, or indie films that
feature the Devil, as well as a brief look at some of the small screens
most notable Lucifers.
Mitchell has written for a number of major film magazines and in 2000 co-authored SCREAM SIRENS SCREAM.
is a pricy $49.95 in hardcover, limiting its appeal mostly to the serious
film fan or scholar. But THE
is a much sounder purchase than five cheesy pre-owned horror videotapes.
Better yet, tempt your local library into ordering it.
This review copyright 2003 E.C.McMullen Jr.