Childhood’s End aired last month, Lucifer is here, Damien is coming in March, and even Pazuzu might soon get some airtime. It might seem like Satan is even hotter than usual lately, but the truth is that Old Scratch has always been a pop-culture fixture.
South Park’s take on Satan is particularly charming. Of course, he played a major part in the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, but he has also popped up occasionally on the TV show. Sometimes he’s a villain, trying to take over the Earth or the heavens, but he’s also a chill dude when he wants to be.
In the delightfully lurid horror noir Angel Heart, Robert De Niro plays the dapper, mysterious, and oddly manicured “Louis Cyphre,” who hires Mickey Rourke’s Harry Angel to track down a guy named Johnny Favorite. Of all the silly names in this movie (including Lisa Bonet’s character: Epiphany Proudfoot), only one is a homophone for you-know-who.
Audiences loved George Burns as the man upstairs in Oh God! and Oh God! Book II. Part three, Oh, God! You Devil was a natural progression, really, with the 88-year-old comedy legend playing the dual roles of God and his mischievous lookalike, Satan. Satan drives a red sports car with the vanity license plate “HOT,” which is actually way sassier than Lucifer’s “FALLEN1.” He’ll take your soul and he’ll make a waiter’s pants fall down.
In 1975, William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Ida Lupino, Anton LaVey, and a newcomer named John Travolta brought their talents to a little picture about an evil cult, entitled The Devil’s Rain.
Satan himself doesn’t actually appear in this film, but Ernest Borgnine plays a powerful priest with a direct link to the Dark Lord. This happens:
And this happens:
Brian De Palma’s 1974 Phantom of the Paradise riffs on Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Gray, in addition to containing some of the most insane musical numbers ever committed to film. Star Jessica Harper is probably most associated with Italian horror classic Suspiria, and Paul Williams (who plays the pint-sized, Satan-sworn antagonist, in addition to singing all of the Phantom’s parts) is an Oscar-winning songwriter. But Phantom of the Paradise is a singular wonder in both their careers. Don’t watch it sober.
Phantom of the Paradise contains nearly every genre of music from the 1970s—but no Black Sabbath, which no list of Satanic pop culture would be complete without. (I’m OK with leaving out the Charlie Daniels Band ... but not Ozzy.)
This jam, from the band’s eponymous debut record, is the possibly the most polite Satan has ever been, no matter what the Rolling Stones would have you believe.