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Satan's Helpers: Powerhouse Actors Embody The Devil

October 30th, 2008 11:50am EDT
LegendAnother Halloween is upon us, and in addition to witches and goblins "All Hallows Eve" conjures up images of everyone's favorite bad guy, Satan. Here's a list of some of Hollywood's best actors and their interpretation of the world's "worst" guy.



Tim Curry in "Legend" as "Darkness"

Only in the darkness will Satan have power and only in a Ridley Scott film will Tim Curry be the ultimate Satan for all time as "Darkness" itself. Amazing costume and make-up design help to bring the most sexual and darkly beautiful embodiment of the Devil to film. Darkness is a lonely and sadly contemplative manifestation of Satan. He longs for a bride to keep him company and bear his children. Yet all of his scheming and plotting result in his own destruction. The Darkness cannot survive in the presence of the Light and only Tim Curry could make Tom Cruise look light in his boyish loafers. This is the same Tim Curry who starred in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" that we're talking about. Next to Curry's masculine candy coated sex machine romp as Darkness Cruise looks like a fairy wearing too much glitter. Now a "Jack," "Lily," "Lord of the Darkness" bedtime sandwich might change people's minds about which side their bread is buttered. But barring that fantasy turning into reality we'll just have to settle for Cruise and Curry in celluloid dreams created by the master of light and shadow, Ridley Scott. This morality tale is a poetic and whimsical dream interpreted by a master storyteller. Darkness represents every child's nightmare image of Satan, horns, hooves and fangs included.




Warning: Watch this one with Oprah and then jump on her couch and declare your love for Katie Holmes while wearing a corset, garter, stockings, heels and pearls.


Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate" as "John Milton"

As an aptly named "John Milton" Pacino embodies the powerful, sexual and under-estimated devil as the owner of a law firm in the modern Babylon of New York City. The real John Milton was a 17th Century English poet who wrote "Paradise Lost," an epic poem about Satan testing Adam and Eve and leading to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The theme of Milton's poem was God's eternal foresight and the power of his gift to mankind of freewill. Pacino's gifts of power and money to a small town couple from Gainesville, Florida turn their lives and their souls into a chaotic playground. Milton manipulates Mary Ann Lomax (Charlize Theron) into cutting her long hair and dying it from blonde to her natural brown. He undermines the marriage between Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) and Mary Ann. And as the wheels turn and the plot reveals Kevin's place in the grand scheme of the Universe, Milton lays out Kevin's choices and the fate of the world, which rests squarely on Kevin's shoulders. The Devil's job is to make people think too much, want too much and think that everyone is out to get them. Milton makes people crazy with desires, greed and fear then twists them into what he wants them to be unless they choose otherwise for themselves. Satan's only weakness is underestimating the power of a human's free will and Milton proves to be no exception to this rule. And neither is Pacino. He underestimates the power of subtlety in his performance. It starts out quiet and unassuming and ends up a bombastic, over-the-top screamfest. At certain points he homages his previous performances in films like "Scarface" and "The Godfather III." You're half expecting him to yell, "Then they pull me back in (to Hell)." At other times his, "Hu-ah's" from "Scent of a Woman" sneak in under his breath. But let's face it, no one screams like Pacino. And no one plays a more devilishly tempting Devil either.




Warning: Watch this one with a wad full of one dollar bills in your pocket, then head off to your nearest strip joint to enjoy a cigar and a steak for a quarter.

Robert De Niro in "Angel Heart" as "Louis Cyphre"

"Lu-ci-fer" as Mickey Rourke's character figures out by the end of the film is deftly played by one of the master actors of his generation, Robert De Niro. In a slightly effeminate, wonderfully vain and smolderingly subtle performance as the devil, De Niro brings power and menace to an otherwise simple role. Cyphre is a very straightforward and twisted characterization of Satan. He leads Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) on a trail that leads him to his own horrible realizations about his past, his relationship with the Devil and the deal he made in the name of greed, vanity and power. There's nothing quite as sobering as discovering the true depth of your dark side and the lies people are capable of telling themselves to justify and cover up their selfish choices. Cyphre won't let Angel off the hook for the wrongs he committed. He sets up a domino effect that Angel plays into and leads to Satan being able to collect on a debt, which is long overdue. Along with a lot of animal sacrifice and intense sexual content this film includes Lisa Bonet in the role that got her kicked off "The Cosby Show." The moral of this story is simple: if you make a deal with the Devil, you better be able to remember what you did to get out of it or you'll end up repeating your mistakes. Alan Parker, the writer/director, was quoted as saying he was so scared of De Niro's performance on the set that he couldn't give him any direction. He just let Bobby do whatever he wanted. Mr. De Niro admitted in an interview that he was simply doing his best Martin Scorsese impersonation. What's more frightening: De Niro as Satan in this movie, or the fact the De Niro was using Scorsese as inspiration for the Devil? And what does that say about their professional and personal relationships?




Warning: Watch this one with an over-active member of PETA, preferably Pam Anderson in her red bathing suit from "Baywatch" or her birthday suit from her sex video with Tommy Lee.


Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" as "Regan/Pazuzu"

In a truly frightening and riveting portrayal of the Devil a young, innocent girl becomes possessed by a demon and turns into a portal for the ultimate evil to come into the world. The non-specific nature of this version of the Devil makes the horrifying possibilities of this film more believable and more riveting than other singular portrayals. The idea that Satan would choose a child is disturbing enough but that he would also turn her into a pea soup wielding weapon of evil who kills anyone who gets in his way is truly horrifying. Who doesn't know this famous version of Satan in human form? You're bound to hear someone say their head was about to spin around like "that girl from The Exorcist" if they get cut off in traffic while texting their BFF. The Director's cut is even creepier with the upside-down and backwards "spider-walk" down the staircase scene put back in. The biggest thing that makes this Satan more terrifying than all others is the fact that this film was based on true events. The truth is always scarier than fiction. Okay maybe the sequel is scarier than the truth but only because "Heretic" was so frighteningly bad.




Warning: Watch this one with a friend and the lights on.


Jack Nicholson in "The Witches of Eastwick" as "Daryl Van Horne"

Nicholson's lecherous and hysterically scary version of Satan leaves nothing to the imagination. He uses his powers to cause harm to those who oppose him, grants the wishes of those who serve him and must bow to the only thing more powerful than him, a Mom who loves her child. Or in this case, three Moms who love their three little bundles of joy given to them by the Devil. Only Nicholson could make you believe that Satan would choose three different women, exploit their weaknesses, turn them into the best versions of themselves and then try to kill them. And to top it all off, you feel sorry for him when he gets his. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" is taken to a new level of intensity in this film and Nicholson rises to meet the energy created by three powerhouse actresses. His performance is dangerously intense. He takes an homage to Buster Keaton and turns the volume up to the point where he comes across as insane. Insanity is scary because the person who is insane has no concept of consequences, nor does that person fear them even if they think about them. Therefore, they are capable of anything. They have no boundaries in a very politically correct world. This is dangerous and dangerous is scary and scary is Jack Nicholson in this movie.




Warning: Watch this one with wine, cheese, crackers and a voodoo doll.

Peter Stormare in "Constantine" as "Satan"

In a totally literal and enjoyable interpretation of the Devil, straight from Hell, as if on a business trip Peter Stormare creates a surly and disheveled Dark One. Dressed in a white suit and rattling off a list of resentments towards Constantine with a detectable accent he presents a Euro-trash version of Satan. His power and vanity come across without sacrificing charm. Only Stormare can pull off a Satan who owns stock in cigarette companies and goes barefoot in public. He plays "Lou," as Constantine likes to call him, with a vibe that makes you feel as if he might devour you or have sex with you or both and only he knows in what order. He spares Constantine's life and removes the tar from his lungs so he can't be all bad, right? Oh wait, he did that because Constantine gets one over on him, and flicks him off. Ballsy. This film makes us all believe we might be able to trick the Devil if we ever find ourselves in a bind by using the simplest of all tools, love. Yes it did feel this cheesy while watching the end of this otherwise hard-edged movie.




Warning: Watch this one after eating, smoking and seeing "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Fargo" for maximum enjoyment.

Erin MacMillan-Ramirez
Story by Erin MacMillan-Ramirez

Starpulse contributing writer