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Diabolically awful: five ridiculous portrayals of Satan

By Mike Riga

Section: Arts

February 1, 2008

dc02010806.jpgSatan is a scary dude. The Prince of Darkness; he’s out to get us and make us into little bad dudes. While Satan may or may not be your favorite buddy (I’ll let the readers decide), he certainly is a pretty ridiculous concept.

As the fallen angel, classic portrayals of his features have been really something. Sure he’s from Hell, and is probably pretty evil, but why do people insist on portraying him as some big red guy. Where did that idea come from? The Bible thinks of him as a big snake. But if that were the case, wouldn’t you think his role would be much more like that of the snake in Anaconda. Wouldn’t he eat John Voight? There are quite a few other really silly ways to think of the big boss in hell, and the movie business certainly provides some of the most original ones.

Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled

Remember Bedazzled? This was a Brendan Fraser movie, back when Brendan Fraser’s career was universally restricted to the role of “goofy, slightly dim” guy. You know, movies like Blast from the Past, George of the Jungle, Monkeybone, and of course, Bedazzled. This is a movie about Brendan Fraser getting some wishes from Satan, to unfortunately hilarious consequences.

Satan is played by famous British chick and the first Austin Powers girl Elizabeth Hurley. Lizzie can’t quite act all that convincingly as the princess of darkness, but she throws some scorching one liners in there at Mr. Fraser’s goofy, but dim expense. Not to mention they give her the silliest things to do. And she’s Elizabeth Hurley; do we really care about her acting?

Satan in South Park: the Movie

Voiced by Trey Parker, Satan graces us with his very wimpy, feelings-oriented presence in South Park: the Movie. Trying to take over the world through some unimportant, ridiculous plot involving a war in Canada, Satan in this movie is a needy homosexual man, unable to form a healthy relationship with his lover, Saddam Hussein. Yes that’s right: this Satan is Saddam’s bedfellow! How ridiculous. Not to mention he’s always moping about, whining about his feelings. So far we’ve seen the best comedy Satans, but the next two are actually, genuinely creepy.

Satan in Rosemary’s Baby

Satan has only one real scene in this film, and it’s a really creepy one. As you probably can guess, the next little bit is a big-time spoiler, so read at your own peril.

Guess what: Rosemary’s baby is the antichrist! She got knocked up by Satan and didn’t even realize it. That’s probably because they did the big deed in her dreams. That’s right, Satan can do that, and at the hand of talented director Roman Polanski (no slouch when it comes to demonic portrayals, as you’ll see), the scene is genuinely frightening, suspenseful, and what good horror is supposed to be: horrifying. This of course is Satan’s only appearance in the film, but nonetheless it is lasting and scary one.

Emmanuelle Seigner in The Ninth Gate

Ah Roman Polanski, you do love the occult. As evidenced in the aforementioned film, Mr. Polanski can certainly whip up some suspense around the good old dark prince. And while Ms. Seigner’s character in The Ninth Gate may or may not be Lucifer himself, she certainly carries out his will. At the very least she plays one of his main minions, and is quiet, seductive, and quite dangerous.

The film is about Johnny Depp using books to get into Hell, so it wouldn’t surprise you if I said the movie was interesting and a little off its own rocker. But that’s quite all right, as you go for quite a subtle little thrill ride in this film, constantly helped along by Seigner’s The Traveler, who manages to hide what she truly is from everyone until near the end of the film. Depp’s revelation of who she really is comes with the prerequisite Satanic experience, involving fire, castles, nighttime, burning eyes, and of course, seduction. All in all it’s a really cool movie, with a really cool depiction of the Devil.

Peter Stormare in Constantine

Constantine is a silly, silly movie. Not intentionally, though. It’s just that I cannot take two more hours of Keanu Reeves portraying yet another character that wears all black and is the ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE HUMANITY anymore without bursting into laughter.

But it’s okay, this movie is entertaining in its absurdity, complete with demons, winged angel kids, a Spear of Destiny, that guy from Bush, and Peter Stormare, the greatest Swede of all time. You might know him as that German guy in Fargo or The Big Lebowski or that Russian guy in Armageddon.

Well guess what? He’s actually from Sweden, and in Constantine, he gives the world the most ridiculous portrayal of Lucifer. Some strange cross between a riverboat gambler, Colonel Sanders, and a German guy, this is a ridiculous Satan, complete with tar-dripping feet and red eyes. He also for no real reason can freeze time and blow up mirrors with his mind It’s just so silly. He gets some great one-liners, and delivers them all so intensely over the top it’s nearly unfathomable. He even offers Keanu a cigarette, and then refuses to light it. What a crazy, nutty Satan!

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