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Who did Satan best? The 12 coolest, smoothest and creepiest Devils of film

October 19, 2015

Okay, folks.  Let me be the first to admit that I’m using the word “Satan” very loosely here to mean pretty much any devil-like character.  That said, here are 12 diabolical characters that really won me over…

We also discussed the matter to metageeky ends in our Movies, Films and Flix Podcast #35 [just click to listen!]. JOIN US!!!

The man on a mission Devil.

Gabriel Byrne as Satan in End of Days (1999).


He certainly had his share of cool scenes.  But does anyone remember when he walked in that restaurant and randomly made out with that woman (while groping her) in front of her date at the dinner table and she just loved it?  BRO LEVEL: 1,000,000!


The best monstrous Devil. 

Monstrous yet debonair, Tim Curry was remarkable as Darkness in Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985).


Now sure, he played “Darkness.”  Not necessarily the Devil, or even “a” devil, but he looked very diabolical and demonic.  So I chose to include him.  Besides, he did some pretty evil stuff in fantasy land.  He wanted unicorns dead!  His minions’ actions almost inadvertently drowned Tom Cruise (as the hero Jack).  He wants to end all daylight to live in darkness.  And he wants to marry Jack’s girl…and she’s spoken for!  Maybe committing just one of these offenses isn’t bad enough to make the “evil” list, but commit two to four of them and you’re on Santa’s naughty list forever.

Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness in Legend

The bitter ruler of Hell.

Viggo Mortenson as Lucifer in The Prophecy (1995).


Loved the way he postured himself, perched and spoke.  He was a bad ass and real bad asses don’t need to tell people they’re tough.  Viggo was far from a big shot back then, but he convinced me that not only he could rule Hell, but that ruling Hell was an exhausting, embittering, tolling burden that he carried.


The Devil with a soft spot in her heart…and the SEXIEST DEVIL!

Elizabeth Hurley as the Devil in Bedazzled (2000)…damn!


First things first.  Hottest Devil EVER!  And secondly, no offense to my English friends overseas, but I think we all pretty much knew that the Devil would be British.  She grants Monkey Pawed wishes and leads Brendan Fraser one temptation at a time to near eternal damnation.  When she fails to claim his soul, she’s almost struck with admiration at the selfless deed that saved him.  Imagine that, a devil with a soft spot.


The peevish, Euro Devil.

Peter Stormare was delightful as Satan in Constantine (2005).


Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street, The Last Stand, Bad Boys II, 8mm) has a long history of playing Euro-trashy criminals, and I love that he basically brought the same character he always plays to his role as a barefoot, apparently hungover Satan.  His Satan is impatient and he wanted Keanu Reeves to know how much he hated him and wanted his soul.

tumblr_mp28y4KGtu1r4zr8xo4_r1_250The silver-tongued Tempter of free will.

Al Pacino as John Milton (The Devil) in Devil’s Advocate (1997).

Again, Keanu Reeves is face-to-face with the Devil.  And this time, the Devil has a law degree and a swanky pad overlooking Central Park.  It’s hard to say no to the Devil when he offers you the dream job, the dream NYC condo, and since he’s your dad he probably won’t steal your soul.  He just wants you to join the family business and be rich and overindulgent.


The old school, smooth but weird Devil.

Robert DeNiro as Louis Cyphre in Angelheart (1987).  Smoothest, yet suuuuper creepy!  I like what they did with his fingernails.


The soul collector coming to collect.

The Devil from Devil (2010) was as malevolent as devils get.  Like a cat pawing at its crippled rodent fare, he toys with his souls to take as their sins are revealed to us.  When I first saw this film I was guessing all over the place at the identity of the Devil.  We got a nice surprise!

Devil 2010 cast

The Devil with the best eye for a cruel pineapple.

Harvey Keitel as “Dad” in Little Nicky (2000).  Harvey wasn’t actually THE Devil in this (Rodney Dangerfield was Lucifer), but he owned his silly role.


So Hitler enters Keitel-Devil’s office in a French maid outfit and goes to a closet of pineapples and picks out a small one.
Keitel-Devil looks at him and say “mm-mmmm” shaking his head no. So Hitler picks another.


After Hitler picks a huge pineapple, we learn that it is to be shoved up his butt!

The most absolutely evil thing in Hell…with a phallic tentacle attached to his head. 

Kenneth Cranham as the brand new Cenobite from Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988).


Now, Leviathan (see below) is the true God of Hell in Clive Barker’s books and movies.  However, we never really “see” Leviathan outside of its/his giant floating cube form.  So instead I’m showcasing the toughest Cenobite ever; the one that took on Pinhead, Butterball, Female and Chatterer all at the same time.  This Cenobite seemed special, though, for reasons beyond his toughness.  He had a tentacle (like a giant leech with a blender-mouth biting his head) that reached up into the sky and propelled him around.  Was this Leviathan puppeteering him?

The most lecherous Devil.

Jack Nicholson as Daryl van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick (1987) was a sex-hungry delight.  And my, did he have good taste.  Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher in her prime?  Yeah.  He clearly knows how to talk to a lady.  He managed to womanize and have the women like it…that is, until they realized what he was doing.


Then the girls got revenge and the real Jack came out to play.


The least Devil-like Devil.

The giant silver diamond emitting a black beam known as Leviathan from Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988).



This thing is the God of Hell in Clive Barker’s world.  Hmmm…don’t know what to say about this.  Cool idea, though.  It is completely inhuman, even inhumanoid, and quite menacing.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. dazzahughes permalink
    October 19, 2015 2:23 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this list. The devil as a character is so interesting and is one that I’m sure we will see in all art forms time and time again.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 21, 2015 9:18 am

      The devil is one of those roles where everyone will have a strong opinion on the casting…much as they would with the casting of Jesus or God. The role is too significant NOT to warrant such attention, even when the movie is just some horror or comedy.

      The list was fun to make and I missed a LOT. Glad you enjoyed.

  2. Jonah permalink
    August 4, 2017 8:30 am

    You need to see Walter Huston as Mr. Scratch in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1941). Or don’t you watch old movies?

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 5, 2017 10:21 pm

      I’ve been told this. And no, I typically don’t venture much earlier than the 70s. Maybe one day…


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