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John’s Horror Corner: Satanic Panic (2019), a low budget horror-comedy that packs a bloody funny punch.

October 22, 2019

MY CALL: It’s no gem of the era. But it tries, it lands well with what it has, and we have a strong cast including some well-known stars! MORE MOVIES LIKE Satanic Panic: For more rich people behaving badly, try Ready or Not (2019) or Society (1989). For more horror comedies, aim for Deathgasm (2015) and Housebound (2014).

On her first day as a pizza delivery girl, Samantha (Hayley Griffith) is stranded out of gas on a luxurious estate after getting stiffed on the tip. Hoping to beg for some gas money, she wanders inside the mansion and finds herself in the middle of a high society Satanists organization in need of a virgin sacrifice to summon the demon Baphomet.

First-time feature director Chelsea Stardust handles her humorous atmosphere well. The Satanists’ meeting feels like a millionaires’ social club led by the delectable Danica Ross (Rebecca Romijn; The Librarians, X-Men 1-3, Godsend) and I love the dry humor. This is comedy first, horror second. But its horror side celebrates blood and guts as best it can with its budget, and it does so tactfully.

As cheap as everything looks, the execution manages to satisfy. I, for one, enjoy any effort to show someone’s (victim AJ Bowen; The Sacrament, You’re Next, Hatchet II) entire digestive system being pulled from their mouth. And who doesn’t like seeing someone’s (victim Jerry O’Connell; Mission to Mars, Piranha 3D) heart baked into a souffle demon? We also have Voodoo doll-like scenarios, some general murder, and insidious orgy-ing. Even with the zealous effort in the gore department, this is not a technically strong film although it manages to be enjoyable if your expectations are properly tempered.

You really ought to know what you’re getting into before watching this. If you aren’t aware of the low budget indie-style film you’re approaching, you may have the wrong kind of expectations and be rubbed the wrong way. For example, the scoring is stiffly rudimentary. And the writing here is nothing excellent—actually kinda’ clunky and hokey, though passable. It’s what you might expect from a comicbook. But the cast’s congenial performance keeps it above water and prevents the writing from becoming a nuisance even to this critical viewer. And again, the greatest possible efforts were made with a small rubber guts budget.

Other members of the cast include: Gypsy (Arden Myrin; MadTV), Judy Ross (Ruby Modine; Happy Death Day 1-2), Kim (Jordan Ladd; Cabin Fever, Grace, Club Dread, Hostel II), Steve Larson (Jeff Daniel Phillips; Lords of Salem, 31, Halloween II), Kristen Larson (Hannah Stocking; Boo 2! A Madea Halloween), Michelle Larson (Whitney Moore; Birdemic I-II, Contracted II), and Gary (Michael Polish; Hellraiser: Bloodline).

I enjoyed this. It’s no gem of the era, nor is it anything anyone should pander “how did this not go to theaters?” But it tries, it lands well with what it has, and we have a strong cast including some well-known stars.

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