The Best Portrayals of Satan in Horror

The Best Portrayals of Satan in Horror

Horrorific content by Brian B. on July 28th, 2020 | Culture |

At least in Judeo-Christian societies, there might not be a bigger bad than Satan himself. According to Christianity, and to a bit lesser extent, Judaism, Satan is more-or-less the arch nemesis of God. Islam too features a Satan-like figure in Iblis. While not quite as prominent as the Christian Satan, Iblis is still an important figure in Islam.

Either way, Satan, or Lucifer as he is sometimes known, plays a major rule in Abrahamic religions, which are the dominant religious, both culturally and numerically, in Western society. It should come as no surprise then that Lucifer is also a silver screen star, especially in the horror genre. Many horror movies either feature Satan himself, or his minions, terrorizing sinners and the innocent alike.

Satan is often considered perfectly evil and to be the most powerful force of evil in the universe, so he makes for the perfect “big bad.” That’s why we’re going to take a look at some of the best Satanic performances in horror cinema. In no particular order:

Tim Curry in “Legend” by Ridley Scott

Legend is perhaps more of a dark, heroic fantasy than a pure horror film. While Legend lacks some of the intense jump scares of some horror movies, it’s hard to argue that Tim Curry’s portrayal of Satan is anything less than intimidating, if not straight out terrifying. The massive horns, bubbling anger, and overall demonic nature of Curry’s Lucifer earns him a spot on this list.

Legend itself isn’t quite a masterpiece, but it’s a solid 80s film and should make a lot of to-view lists, even if it is towards the bottom. And while experienced horror viewers may not find this movie all-too scary, it’s a great starting point for those looking to get into the genre.

Peter Stormare in “Constantine” Along Side Keanu Reeves

Like Legend, Constantine isn’t a pure horror film, instead being more of a mashup of a superhero film with a decent dash of scares mixed in. Peter Stormare’s take on Lucifer isn’t nearly as intimidating as Tim Curry’s, at least not at first glance. Stormare’s devil often comes off more like a junkie than the ultimate evil, and on screen, he gives the feel of a walking plague rather than a hurricane of darkness.

Yet that’s why it works so well. Stormare’s devil is intimidating in a more human way than some portrayals. At times, he’s more like an evil boss or neighbor. Yet make no mistake, Stormare’s Satan is evil, and incredibly vile. Despite his iconic white suit, Stormare’s Satan is the devil to the core.

Viggo Mortensen in “The Prophecy

Viggo Mortensen is a truly exceptional actor, having played a slue of intriguing characters across a variety of genres. His take on Lucifer is excellent in a variety of subtle ways. The dark suits, long black hair, and eye shadow combined with a calm demeanor and quiet confidence make Mortensen’s devil terrifying without any need for jump scares, flashy powers, or excellent costume design.

Yet at the same time, Mortensen’s Lucifer exudes immense and almost unchallengeable terror. He’s soft spoken not because he’s polite but because he’s so confident in his power, he doesn’t have to raise his voice. This helps make Mortensen’s portrayal of the devil one of the best in horror cinema.

Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate

Lawyers are the butt of a lot of jokes and some even think they’re evil. This may be why the Devil’s Advocate features Satan not as a red horned devil or shadowy trickster, but instead a high-powered lawyer sitting at the top of a prestigious law firm. Yet while Al Pacino’s Satan wears a fine suit, his devil is far from subtle.

Bombastic, charismatic, and holding a serious grudge against God, Pacino delivers a great performance and fits well in the role. Pacino’s Satan is also a father, and he has a simple request for his son, Keanu Reeves’s Kevin Lomax: hook up with your half-sister and conceive the anti-Christ, please.

Ultimately, Pacino’s stirring performance as Lucifer helps prop up an otherwise so-so movie, so consider giving The Devil’s Advocate a watch if you want to take a trip down memory lane or need to hate on the legal profession.

Gabriel Byrne in “End of Days” Along Side Aaaawnald

This criminally underrated gem with an epic depiction of Satan gets our final pick.


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