Throw up some devil horns, this week’s streaming picks are dedicated to one of the genre’s most prominent villains: the Devil. There are endless horror movies that feature the evils of Satan, from possession horror to cult horror, ranging all tones and styles. Many of which make up seminal genre classics, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. There’s a lot of fertile ground to explore in Satanic horror, making it easy to see why -aside from the inherent fears of demons – it’s been such a popular subject in film.
To showcase just how diverse Satanic horror can be, the selection this week runs the gamut in taste and dives a little deeper into the subgenre. Psychedelic experiments in animation, ’90s horror-comedy, cult favorites, and action-horror all collide to hail Satan.
As always, these are all available to stream now.
Belladonna of Sadness – Tubi
Despite the gorgeous animation, this 1973 Japanese animated feature is easily the bleakest film of the bunch. Directed and co-written by Eiichi Yamamoto, and inspired by Jules Michelet’s 1862 non-fiction book La Sorcière, Belladonna straightaway shatters any expectations for an uplifting animated movie. It follows Jeanne, a village girl who’s raped on her wedding night by a tyrannical warlord, an event that causes a ripple effect on her and her husband Jean’s lives. As things grow worse, she makes a pact with the devil for the power to fight back against injustice. Of course, things only get much, much worse. Belladonna offers a strange juxtaposition of soft, delicate artwork against lurid, dark subject matter. Expect a very psychedelic trip into madness, turning a straightforward narrative into something far more abstract and bizarre. In other words, this pick is for the adventurous, fans of experimental cinema, and those that think they’ve seen it all.
Constantine – Hulu
Upon release fifteen years ago, fans and critics weren’t as kind to this adaptation of DC Comics’ Hellblazer series. It’s eponymous lead, after all, resembled very little of his comic counterpart. Keanu Reeves stars as supernatural exorcist and demonologist John Constantine, a man atoning for the sin of suicide by keeping the peace on Earth between Heaven and Hell. Police Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) ropes him into an investigation on her sister’s suicide, which proves part of an apocalyptic conspiracy. It’s action-horror at its most fun, with an insanely stacked cast. Tilda Swinton shines as archangel Gabriel, but Peter Stormare’s rendition of Lucifer is scene-stealing gold.
Highway to Hell – Prime Video
Doting couple Charlie (Chad Lowe) and Rachel (Kristy Swanson) decide to elope in Las Vegas. They opt for a shortcut despite advice against it, and it results in Rachel catching the notice of Old Scratch, who sends his Hellcop to drag her to Hell to be his bride. From the writer behind A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and 976-EVIL, Highway to Hell transforms the Greek myth of Persephone into a full-blown ’90s B-movie romp. If you like wacky horror-comedies, this provides plenty of entertainment. Look for cameos by Lita Ford, Ben Stiller, Jerry Stiller, and Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler. Yup.
May the Devil Take You – Netflix
From Timo Tjahjanto, the director behind the gory “Safe Haven” segment in V/H/S/2, comes another gore-filled flick in the vein of The Evil Dead franchise. When her father mysteriously falls into a coma, Alfie and her step-family travel to his old villa for answers, uncovering a supernatural pact. When demonic forces come to collect, it’s up to Alfie to find a way to pay the debt without losing lives in the process. Tjahjanto wears his horror influences on his sleeves here, putting his characters through the splatter-fueled wringer by way of visceral occult violence. It does drag on a bit, but overall, it offers plenty of blood-soaked amusement. There’s a sequel on the way, so no time like the present to get on this Raimi-styled wavelength.
The Devil’s Rain – Prime Video, Tubi
Satanic priest Jonathan Corbis (Ernest Borgnine) was betrayed and burned alive. He cursed the family responsible, who stole a powerful Satanic tome from him, vowing to hunt down every single descendant and reclaim the book. When it comes to plot, that’s it. It’s paper-thin. Just an imposing leader and his cultists that hunt down and enslave the souls of the Prescott family. Don’t expect a lot of depth here. What you can expect, however, is a loaded cast that includes William Shatner, Ida Lupino, Tom Skerritt, and John Travolta (in his first feature role). Satanist Anton LaVey served as the film’s technical advisor in addition to his small role as the High Priest of the Church of Satan. More importantly, The Devil’s Rain is worth the watch for the cool way the victims melt.