SATANIC PANIC is the latest film from director Chelsea Stardust (All That We Destroyed), adapted from a story by Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) and Grady Hendrix (Mohawk), about a pizza delivery girl who visits the wrong house filled with Satanist looking for a sacrificial virgin. The film stars Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), Jerry O’Connell (Scream 2), Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever), Ruby Modine (Happy Death Day 2 U), Arden Myrin (Shameless) and newcomer Hayley Griffith and will be having its Midwest Premiere this evening at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival.

Samantha (Hayley Griffith) is an aspiring singer who has taken on a job as a pizza delivery girl to make ends meet. After a slew of awful deliveries that result in no tips, she takes on one last delivery in Mill Bason in hopes that she’ll receive a large tip from the wealthy neighborhood. However, when she arrives and drops off the pizza, the man slams the door in her face without giving her a second thought. At the end of her rope and enraged, she enters the home in hopes that someone will help her, only to find that a house meeting of sorts is in progress. Hoping that someone there will tip her for coming all the way to Mill Bason, she quickly learns that this isn’t a normal get together. After being knocked out, she awakens to find out she has interrupted a high-society Satanic gathering in which the members of the group are in search of a virgin to summon Baphomet.

What makes this film so great is how much fun it is to watch. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and for that, I’m grateful. We’ve seen our fair share of Satanic horror films and for the most part, they follow the same serious horror beats. But what was refreshing about SATANIC PANIC was that Stardust, along with writers Geoghegan and Hendrix, went about making a campy throwback to films such as Evil Dead and Drag Me To Hell that resulted in a film that is enjoyable for both horror and comedy fans alike. But what I really loved about this film was just how much fun everyone seemed to be having. Rebecca Romijn, who plays Danica, is a vision as the head of this Satanic group. Furthermore, her real-life husband, Jerry O’Connell, who plays Danica’s husband Samuel, is hilarious and I truly wish we could have gotten more screen time with him. Fans of Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2 U will be pleased to see Ruby Modine as Judi – the daughter to Danica and Samuel who has a rather interesting storyline that proves maybe your parents don’t always have the best interests at heart. But the true heart of the film belongs to Hayley Griffith as Samantha. She’s easy to relate too and delivers a performance that is completely genuine. Anyone watching the movie will be hard-pressed not to see a part of themselves in Samantha. In all, the dynamics between all the characters was electric and hilarious, with Gypsy (Arden Myrin) being one of my favorites.

Hayley Griffith as Samantha Craft in the horror film SATANIC PANIC, an RLJE Films release | Photo courtesy of Eliana Pires

Like all the previous Fangoria films, SATANIC PANIC is filled with mind-blowing practical effects that left me with my jaw on the floor. Two that stood out to me the most were with a bed sheet and another with live worms. I won’t give too much away in regards to either but as someone who gets queasy at the site of gore, the live worms was a bit too much for me. Nevertheless, I give props to Ruby Modine for giving her all by putting the worms in her mouth because Lord knows I would never be able to do that. As for the bed sheet, I was able to find out more about how that effect was done during my interview with Chelsea Stardust and it left me amazed at just how creative practical effects can truly be. These aren’t the only two examples as the film is filled to the max with all types of gross-out effects that gore lovers will have a heyday with. So often, horror and gore are attributed to films that are directed by men which is why it was so inspiring to see one as bloody as this directed by a female director who truly has a love for all things horror, gore, and macabre. Furthermore, you have a cast that is primarily made up of women who go balls to the wall with the gore factor that even I, someone who can’t handle too much of it, applauded their actions and cheered them on. I mean come on, how can I not be impressed when one of the characters is wearing a giant drill that looks like male genitalia knowing she’s about to quite literally fuck someone up. This is me over here shielding my eyes but also applauding all those involved at the same time.

The last few years I’ve been a fan of heavier horror films such as Hereditary and Mother!, so being able to chill with my boyfriend and have a few laughs during SATANIC PANIC was definitely the change of pace I needed. I think that this is one of those films that will have a devoted fanbase and become a cult classic that we will be talking about for years to come. It’s not a perfect film as there were a few moments that left me scratching my head in confusion, but even so, the flaws are what make a film like this noteworthy. It’s apparent that a lot of heart and soul and passion went into creating it and for that, I have nothing but respect. Furthermore, the use of practical sets, especially the beautiful mansions, was something I absolutely adored. The same can be said for the costumes as they were somewhat prototypical to that which many ignorant people think Satanist wear during their sacrificial meetings; you know, the hooded cloaks, but these were red with a modern spin to them. There’s also a stunning headpiece that Danica wears towards the end of the film that I can see fans wearing as Halloween costumes in the years to come. All that said, I think many horror fans are going to find quite a lot to love with SATANIC PANIC. It’s a love letter to 80’s practical effects, as well as beloved horror films, with an entertaining story that gave Stardust the tools to bring it to life in all its bloody glory. SATANIC PANIC is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray.

Shannon McGrew
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