Satanic movies are the offshoot of the horror genre most likely to have us looking over our shoulders and wondering about that strange noise upstairs.
This is because they deal with the notion of evil as a personified entity that can be summoned and could be anywhere.
Movies like The Omen depict evil as the antichrist, but most cultures have a demonic figure such as a demon or evil spirit.
Some movies, like Children of the Corn, create their own sinister power like ‘he who walks among the rows’.
Sometimes the evil can be overcome, but often it can only be counterbalanced. Here are 10 of the best satanic movies:
10 The Quiet Ones
Brian (Sam Claflin) is hired by a University professor to film his experiments on a troubled girl named Jane (Olivia Cooke).
Jane exhibits supernatural phenomena that the professor and his team want to prove are merely symptoms of a psychological condition but Brian discovers that Jane was the victim of a demonic cult.
From the recently revived Hammer studios, The Quiet Ones (Pogue, 2014, US/UK) gives a fresh take on the science of the supernatural whilst also staying true to Hammer’s gothic roots.
The Satanic aspect of the plot becomes more apparent towards the end after Brian takes pity on Jane and tries to rescue her from the unethical experiments.
9 The Masque of the Red Death
Satanic Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) sentences two starving villagers to death and kidnaps their daughter Francesca. (Jane Asher) Trapped in Prospero’s castle Francesca witnessed debauchery, black magic and tries to escape.
Eventually a mysterious masked figure in red visits the Prince.
Based on the Edgar Allen Poe short story, Roger Corman’s Masque of the Red Death (1964, US/UK) occasionally descends into camp and melodrama but is also visually arresting; filled with sixties psychedelia and surrealism.
Poe’s story, an allegory for equality in death, is stretched out to include as much Satanist imagery as possible. Despite being set in a fictional past, Red Death does a good job of reflecting the excitement and turbulence of the 1960’s.
8 Deadly Blessing
Martha (Maren Jensen) lives on a farm with her husband Jim who is an ex-member of the local religious sect. Relations are tense with the group, who see Martha as an Incubus.
After Jim is killed in a suspicious tractor accident, black magic, snakes, and spiders are inflicted on Martha and her friends.
Not as well-known as Wes Craven’s other films, Deadly Blessing (1981, US) is an interesting look at the culture clash between religion and modernity.
It sees the return of Michael Berryman, who Craven had also cast in The Hills Have Eyes and introduced the world to Sharon Stone who has a spider dropped into her mouth in one terrifying scene.
7 Children of the Corn
Child preacher Isaac convinces all the children of Gatlin to worship ‘he who walks behind the rows’.
The children murder all the adults in the town, capturing any who pass through to sacrifice to the entity.
Married couple Burt and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) get stuck in the town and have to escape.
Based on a Stephen King short story, Children of the Corn (Kierson, 1984, US) is considered by many to be a bad movie but at the heart of it is real horror.
There is something incredibly shocking about the merciless killing of adults by innocent looking children and the corn fields take on a malevolent power of their own.
Five ordinary looking strangers enter an elevator but one is the devil. The elevator gets stuck between floors and every time the lights go out something horrible happens.
The religious Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) must work out their identities from the security control room.
Devil (Dowdle, 2010, US) is a great piece of storytelling and a great piece of filmmaking.
Based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan, we see events unfold both from the perspective of those trapped in the hellish elevator and from the Gods-eye view of detective Bowden watching on the CCTV.
Thrilling and chilling.
True crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawk) moves his family into a house that was the scene of an unsolved family murder and hopes to write an investigative book on the case.
The local police are reluctant to help but a mysterious box of home movies left in the attic sheds light on what happened to the family.
The creepy figure of Mr. Boogie made Sinister (Derrickson, 2012, US/UK) a smash hit.
Some of the movies more impressive elements feel lifted from Michael Mann’s Manhunter and Ellison does everything that any sane person wouldn’t do but somehow it works.
Thanks to Hawk, the character is still likable so we are appropriately terrified for him and his family throughout.
4 The House of the Devil
Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) thinks she has been hired to babysit for the Ullmans’ but over the course of the night, she becomes suspicious about the family and what might be going on in their attic.
One of the best Satanic movies of the 21st century The House of the Devil (Ti West, 2009, US) is impressively tense and original.
It took its cues from a patchwork of seventies and eighties horror creating a retro look and feel but keeping the twists and turns in the plot fresh and visceral.
Tom Noonan who plays Mr. Ullman also plays the serial killer in the aforementioned Manhunter.
3 The Omen
US Ambassador to the UK Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) slowly comes to realize that his adopted son Damien is the Antichrist.
Thorn must kill the child to prevent the Antichrist from rising to power but the forces of darkness try to stop him.
The dark forces depicted in The Omen (Donner, 1976, UK/US) are effective and affecting.
The movie, helped by an Oscar-winning Jerry Goldsmith score, has many powerful scenes including three of the best death sequences in horror.
Gregory Peck’s star presence lent the movie legitimacy and helped it to enter mainstream popular culture. The movie’s production is also said to be cursed.
2 The Wicker Man
Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) travels to the remote Hebridean Island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a child.
The Islanders, including Lord Summersile (Christopher Lee) behave oddly and practice strange pagan rituals.
It is not Satanism but Paganism at the heart of The Wicker Man. (Hardy, 1973, UK) The tension in the movie springs from the conflict between Howie’s steadfast Christian values and the unrepressed hedonism of the islanders.
The islanders retain their ancient culture by sacrificing outsiders, but their isolationism is ultimately depicted as an act of collective madness.
1 Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move to an apartment in building with a dark history. The couple are befriended by the oddball elderly couple living next door.
Rosemary becomes pregnant after a dream in which she is raped by the devil. The elderly couple take a keen interest in her pregnancy making her suspicious of their motives.
Horror is at home in upmarket New York in Rosemary’s Baby, (Polanski, 1968, US) a movie exploring the dark side of pregnancy.
Rosemary struggles through her pregnancy and becomes isolated from her friends and her old life, the baby growing inside feels alien.
The collusion against her by the Satanists is chilling, leading to one of cinemas most famous endings.