I listen to a lot of podcasts so I’m always a bit behind on the latest episodes. One of them I listen to is Mick Garris’ Post Mortem. I mention that because it was his interview with the director of Satanic Panic, Chelsea Stardust, that turned me onto this movie. Before I go any further with the review, I just wanted to take a minute to recommend the show to you. It is pretty cool.
Sam is a pizza delivery girl that is just trying to make a few bucks. Since she is new, she keeps getting the crappy deliveries and we see her getting stiffed on tips again and again. If you haven’t ever delivered pizzas (I did a long time ago!) then you wouldn’t know that tips are how you really make your money. When the chance to deliver to a ritzy part of town comes up, she takes it and runs. Given the title of the movie you can probably already figure out that this wasn’t the best decision.
The delivery is at a huge mansion but the nice tip that she was expecting doesn’t happen. Bummed out she goes to leave, but her scooter won’t start. That is the last straw, so she goes back to the house looking for the guy who stiffed her. Well it just so happens that the pizzas were ordered by some Satanists trying to summon a demon to Earth and she walks right into the middle of their meeting. If that weren’t awkward enough, they need a virgin sacrifice and guess who fits that requirement? Yeah Sam is having a really bad day. The rest of the movie is them trying to catch and sacrifice her before the sun rises while she does her best to avoid them. Along for the ride is the young lady, Judy, who was supposed to be the sacrifice but “screwed” it up. Hah see what I did there? Shenanigans ensue.
If you have read my reviews before you know that I keep hammering away that horror comedies are maybe the hardest movies to pull off correctly. You have to walk a tightrope between two very different genres and most fail by leaning too hard into one or the other. Here the director, Chelsea Stardust, does an excellent job of balancing the two. I had thought about giving some examples of what I mean but it would ruin some of the best parts of Satanic Panic. Keeping it vague I’ll just say that at times the movie is very funny and at other times very gory and creepy. I found it all very satisfying.
While researching for this review I discovered that the screenplay was written by one of my favorite authors, Grady Hendrix. I loved his books Horrorstor and My Best Friends Exorcism. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I think this might be one of the best written horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. The dialogue is snappy and the characters a lot of fun. Even the evil ones have their moments in the sun. This could have been a very linear by the number’s movie, but we get some quirky scenes tossed in for fun. It all works together nicely. The story and characters are top notch in this one.
Speaking of the characters I had a blast watching Rebecca Romijn chew up scenery as the leader of the cult, Danica. She is clearly having a blast in the role. You also get a nice supporting performance from Jordan Ladd and Hayley Griffith is great as Sam. Honestly this entire cast is great. I even thought the small role that Jerry O’Connell as Danica’s husband was a heck of a lot of fun. I mean he just wants to help “save” Sam.
|He really isn't a gun person...
The special effects work is practical and involves quite a few onscreen deaths. We get a neck getting torn up, another person getting screwed to death with a giant drill, a gunshot victim, organs being cooked, and lots more fun. There are also a cool gags with a sheet attacking someone, bones getting all twisted up, and the bugs… man those bugs. Like I said earlier, Satanic Panic delivers the goods when it comes to the horror.
I could keep going but it isn’t necessary. I’d much rather you guys went out right now and purchased or rented a copy of this movie. This is the kind of independent horror that we fans should be supporting. Just because we don’t see it in the theater doesn’t mean that filmmakers aren’t out there making killer flicks like this. I can’t wait to see what Chelsea Stardust does next.
© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer