Pizza, Satan, and secret societies. I’m hard-pressed to think of a horror-cocktail more universally inviting. It’s no surprise Chelsea Stardust’s Satanic Panic was the top of Overlook 2019 festivalgoer’s Must-See lists. Pizza and mayhem are our kryptonite.
Written by spooky wordsmith Grady Hendrix (author of Paperbacks From Hell, Horrorstor, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, among others) with help from genre regular Ted Geoghegan (Mohawk), Satanic Panic takes us on the moped ride of our lives past sprawling lawns, perfectly manicured hedges, and straight into the underbelly of the satanic elite. Yee Haw.
“Satanic Panic takes us on the moped ride of our lives past sprawling lawns, perfectly manicured hedges, and straight into the underbelly of the satanic elite. Yee Haw.”
Satanic Panic follows pizza delivery girl Sam (Hayley Griffith) on her first ever night shift. (Fan’s of Fangoria’s Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich will appreciate an appearance from Cuddly Bear Skeeta Jenkins as the pizza shop owner.) Barely able to scrape together enough gas money to complete her deliveries, Sam sets her terrifying night into motion after getting stiffed one-too-many times by stingy customers. After a high society snob refuses to tip a five pizza drop at a McMansion on the rich side of town, Sam exacts her revenge; breaking in and asking politely for a tip. Only, these affluent partygoers aren’t having a regular meeting of the minds – they’re Satanists who’ve congregated to sacrifice a virgin in the name of Baphomet. But they’re short a virgin, and our wholesome pizza girl Sam is just what the devil ordered.
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A shitty night turns into a fight of life and death as Sam tries to escape the clutches of the Satanist cult. She befriends the head cultist’s daughter (Ruby Modine, Happy Death Day), whose knowledge of the coven’s dark magick and marvelously macabre monsters proves invaluable in thwarting the coven chaos. But these cultists aren’t about to let their 30-minutes-or-it’s-free virgin get away. They’re prepared to pull out all stops to make Sam a vessel for good ol’ Baphomet. Soul Souffle, anyone?
Ripped out of 70’s cinema and updated for 2019, the coven of cultists at the heart of Satanic Panic are an elite group of couture-wearing vixens. Draped all in red, the enigmatic Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) is scene-stealing as the coven’s head, conjuring up wicked sprites and trying to qualm the dissension rumbling underneath her. The coven’s seer (Arden Myrin) has eyes for the thrown and seizes the opportunity to overthrow the queen. Their catty, power-hungry dynamic makes for an added tug-and-pull as the cultists quarrel throughout the night, breathing some added tension into the one-track-mind of our villains.
But the real magic of Satanic Panic is the campy visual effects. Original lore calls for well-crafted monsters and creative hijinks – with one marvelous spell in-particular requiring Romijn to go elbow-deep into a cadaver – that Satanic Panic isn’t afraid to deliver in droves. But because the film has taken on such a high-speed pace, audiences may have trouble keeping up or understanding just what our coven is up to, and how our leads are able to narrowly scrape by. Sheet monster in the freezer? ..I guess that’s a good spot for it. Voodoo versus black sharpy? ..I hope you have a good soap handy.
Don’t get me wrong, Satanic Panic understands its brand of satanism perfectly. They have magic tomes, mysterious roots, incantations, and harness a host of other goopy, gory delights – but the audience, though we get a glimpse at the delightful underbelly of this new universe – are still wondering what spells we’ve witnessed, and just what magic has been wrought.
“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.”
A killer premise turns campy adventure in Satanic Panic. 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.
Satanic Panic celebrated its world premiere at 2019 The Overlook Film Festival. Stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street for more coverage and highlights from the festival, and let us know which films you’re excited to check out over on Twitter, Reddit, and the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!