Chelsea Stardust (nee Peters) has spent the first part of her career as an assistant to directors and producers such as Judd Apatow and Jason Blum. Her hard work has paid off over the past couple of years, starting with her debut feature Seeing Green and followed by her entry for Blumhouse’ Into The Dark, entitled All That We Destroy. In between these two, she directed the riotously funny, utterly ridiculous horror comedy Satanic Panic. The film was written by Grady Hendrix, who also wrote Ted Geoghan’s brilliant sophomore feature Mohawk, and based on a story by Hendrix and Geoghan.
Satanic Panic starts off at Home Run Pizza, where Sam Craft (Hayley Griffith) is working her first shift as a delivery driver. Her friend, who’s not so secretly into her, Duncan (AJ Bowen) got her the job. She heads out on her Vespa and starts a not so great first day, where none of her customers tip. At the very end of the shift, there’s an order from Mill Basin, the rich part of town that is technically outside of the delivery zone. However, Sam’s coworker, Karim (Mike E. Winfield) told her he once got $32 in tips from a party there once, so she decides to take the order since she needs gas money. Sam heads out to an opulent mansion with an intercom system. She knocks on the door, and a man with a mustache answers gets the four pizzas and pays zero tip on a $100+ order. Are the service people reading this getting twitchy and angry? I hear ya.
“She heads out on her Vespa and starts a not so great first day, where none of her customers tip.”
Because Sam has had it with this day, she decides to go back into the house and ask for a tip, thinking that maybe the person who ordered the pizza forgot to give it to her. No one answers when she knocks, so she sneaks around the back and finds a party of sorts happening, everyone wearing red and a blonde woman at the front, giving a speech. The woman is Danica Ross (Rebecca Romijn), and this isn’t some ordinary party. It’s a gathering of Satanists to bring forth Baphomet. Danica and the members of the coven figure out that Sam is a virgin, which is exactly what they need to bring Baphomet to the world and bring them great power, so they knock Sam out and put her in a room with Danica’s husband, Samuel (Rebecca Romijn’s real life husband, Jerry O’Connell). From there, Satanic Panic is a no-holds-barred descent into hilarious gory madness. Sam forms an alliance with Danica’s daughter Judi (Ruby Modine) to fight off the Satanists and make it out alive.
The greatest part of Satanic Panic to me, other than the fact that someone who once co-hosted a morning talk show with Kelly Ripa plays a pot-smoking Satanic sacrifice, is an allegory that all rich people are evil. I know that we can debate this all day, but if you look at the most destructive forces of humanity, they are wealthy. They don’t seem to care what effects their actions have on the planet or other people, so if the shoe fits… There’s a chant the Satanists do which is “Death to the weak, wealth to the strong.” It seems like it should go in small print under “Make America Great Again” on a red hat, doesn’t it?
“…just plain out fun…Romijn is seriously at the top of her game…”
The movie is also just plain out fun, and I feel like a lot of other horror films could take a lesson from it. Romijn is seriously at the top of her game as Danica Ross. I’ve never seen her this funny. Arden Myrin is also hilarious as her Satanic Coven-mate Gypsy Neuiemer. Ruby Modine is exceptionally kick-ass as the ex-Satanist daughter, and of course, Griffith has great final-girl chops as Sam Craft. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie for people who enjoy 70’s and 80’s camp horror because this movie fits right in the canon. Of course, it’s a lot more self-aware than the material it’s an homage too, but I think that’s only an improvement on the genre. I’m incredibly excited to see what Chelsea Stardust does in the future because this feature shows a lot of promise for the future of her career.
Satanic Panic screened at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival.