Top 10 Best Movie Devils!
What is it about the devil that fascinates us so much? A lofty thought, sure, but if you think about it, every six months or so it seems a new movie comes out that, if not explicitly tries to tackle such a mystery, flat out boasts the word devil in the title. In the last few years alone: DEVIL, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL, DEVIL'S PASS, THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE, HERE COMES THE DEVIL, DEVIL'S KNOT, on and on and on. And you wouldn't you know it, the trend continues next week, as we can expect DEVIL'S DUE to hit theaters January 17th. Only one thing, will we actually see the devil in the film, or is it simply a demonic possession flick? I tend to think the latter, which, frankly, has made me want to revisit some of the best onscreen representation of the Devil we've ever seen. You into it? Let's go...here are our Top 10 Movie Devils. Enjoy!
For number ten, I almost awarded the great Tim Curry's turn as "Darkness" in Ridley Scott's LEGEND. We'll just consider that one honorable mention for now, and instead give credit to the always entertaining Peter Stormare for his role as Satan in the so-so Gothic-horror joint CONSTANTINE. What a crazy mofo! Just look at him...the white pantsuit, the bloodshot orbs, the sweaty pate, the bubbling veins out of his neck, the creepy tattoos...this f*cker is a mess! Props to Francis Lawrence for creating a Satanic being completely antithetical to the ones we've seen in all the decades before (like LEGEND).
Planted firmly in the stack of not-so-good Stephen King adaptations is NEEDFUL THINGS, but that doesn't mean it's entirely without merit. In fact, I'm pretty confident calling Max Von Sydow's devilish turn as curiosity shop owner Leland Gaunt one of the more understated of the bunch. I mean, come on, it's Max Von Sydow! Has there ever been an actor with more grace and gravitas than he? So forceful, so commanding, and here, so redolent of battling Death itself in Bergman's SEVENTH SEAL that a cool double meaning can be drawn.
My my, has the devil ever looked so damn delicious?! Granted, BEDAZZLED is a horrifying picture for all the wrong reasons (no excuse Harold Ramis!), but come on, what red-blooded hetero-male would omit that delectable British bird above from the fray? No way in hell! So it's with that we salute the stunning Elizabeth Hurley for her titillating transgression in Ramis' remake. Much better than the played-out horned, ruddy-skinned, goateed, fire-breathing demon we've come to know...Liz even changes her sexy outfits 19 different times in the flick. Talk about a tease!
It's no easy feat out-vilifying Christopher Walken and Elias Koteas. Those be some creepy ass mofos right there! But when it comes to the great Viggo Mortensen, all things are possible! Now, when it comes to religious horror, I much prefer the exorcism/satanic ritual ilk, a la THE EXORCIST and/or ROSEMARY'S BABY. But when it comes to angels and demons, THE PROPHECY is a truly disturbing piece of work. A lot of that has to do with the sinister cast, none more impressive than a young Viggo as heart-starved Lucifer.
Ever the evocateur, in his somewhat underrated movie-mystery THE NINTH GATE, Roman Polanski cast his gorgeous French wife Emmanuelle Seigner as Lucifer. Whatever subtext you glean from that tidbit, I like the decision. Why? There's something awfully duplicitous about drawing the devil as a sinister seductress. Men are so easily malleable in her clutch, so vulnerable, so helpless. Of course, Frank Langella is pretty bat-shit bonkers in the film as well, not to mention John Depp's Luciferian appearance. But make no mistake, it's definitely The Girl that personifies pure evil in this one.
Be honest, you're still afraid of anyone named Damien, aren't you? Shite, I know I am! Props to the great Dick Donner for so credibly capturing the innate evil of what turns out to be the literal Antichrist in THE OMEN. In this case, an adopted child out of Rome, played convincingly by Harvey Spencer Stephens. And that's the key, isn't it. Having a cherubic faced child represent the devil...it's just counterintuitive on so many levels that it becomes instantly frightening. Factor in the deceit, the mischief, the murderous intent of the little bastard and you have one formidable foe!
If there was ever a devilish grin worthy of Satan himself, it has to be that of my man Jaaaaaack! Luckily visionary filmmaker George Miller felt similar, as he cast Nicholson as the mackin' Mephistopheles in WITCHES OF EASTWICK. He's got the charm, he's got the seduction, but he's got the worst intentions as well. I grew up watching this film on the endless HBO loop it played on in the late 80s, developing what would continue to this very day, my fondness for Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. They're two of my favorite actresses. And look at Jack up top there, rolling around in the sack with the three lasses like the "horny little devil" he is. Son of a f*ck-face!
Hoooohaaaaahh! Notice the sly character name of John Milton (Paradise Lost) to represent Al Pacino's dastardly dirt-bag in THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE? It's a nice touch! And speaking of nice touches, how about my girl Charlize in an early breakout role, subjected to Lucifer's lustful likeness in a way that antagonizes Keanu's character. Sure Pacino hams it up a little, riffing a bit too much on his SCARFACE and SCENT OF A WOMAN roles, but still, as tiny as the guy is, Al's commanding presence and unbridled bravado make him as believable as any other Satanic representation. Look at those f*cking eyes!
"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled...was convincing the world he didn't exist." One of the great sleight-of-hand performances ever laid on celluloid belongs to Kevin Spacey, who won a supporting Oscar for his mendacious mask-job in THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Verbal Kint, aka Keyser Soze, is the manifestation of absolute evil in Bryan Singer's superb heist film...regardless if he's the actual devil or not. In this story, Soze is as powerful and mysterious as the ruler of hell...and that's all that really matters. A sizzling script, kinetic direction and A-list acting...yes, even from Stephen Baldwin!
ANGEL HEART is one of my favorite movies, largely because of the sly misdirection of Alan Parker. Dude makes us think we're watching a 1940s style film noir about a downbeat gumshoe, but it's really a well disguised horror yarn about a man selling his soul to the devil. And come on...Bob De Niro as the homophonic hellion Louis Cyphre...the thick bearded, ponytailed, long-finger-nailed hardboiled egg addict? Too damn good! And while I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Mickey Rourke's performance in the film (probably my favorite of his), you might be amused to know De Niro's character was simply an impression of his pal Martin Scorsese. Parker found him so creepy and convincing on set, he left him alone to direct himself in most scenes.