Horror is often rich with its connection to the unholy monsters and demonic evils, and dedicated fans know all the ins and outs when their heroes end up battling hellacious entities.
To shock audiences with anything involving demons (or even Satan himself) is rarely done within the modern era, so the twisting of common tropes by daring filmmakers has to lead to adventurous explorations into darker lore.
Annually, horror fans are usually handed a stand out possession film that follows the simple steps of reminding us not to make bargains with the Devil or read the sacred magical text, and those cautionary tales make up a bulk of the beloved genre, for better or worse.
Occasionally, something more interesting involving Hell comes down the pipeline and its uniqueness can work as a double-edged sword, making it both a fresh original film and yet, sometimes missed by fans due to its uniqueness causing it not to get a larger commercial audience.
As a self-described weird genre obsessive, I personally live for these hidden gems, and finding them among your standard Hollywood scare flicks is always a treat.
These three films had a sinful allure due to their subject matter and managed to leave me with a lasting impression when it came to their devilishly charming character, bloody kills, and overall originality.
The Hell List
American Satan (2017)
Available on Amazon Prime & Video On Demand
Sex, drugs, and Rock & Roll… a tale as old as time.
One of the major attractions I had going into this film was the music and the idea of combining it with Devil worship in order to achieve the lofty dreams of fame but little did I know, that was the tip of the iceberg.
Even removing the horror element out of this movie, it still stands as a tremendous standout genre film for 2017 with a pretty clear message of what the corruption of fame and sudden success can do to unprepared dreamers.
That subject matter in itself is enough to hook even non-horror fans to be strapped in for a chaotic ride through Hollywood’s musical underworld.
It’s a monkey paw of a story, and though it may lack the overt scares that some fans are craving, the music scores a perfect headbanging dive into hedonistic temptations and realistic consequences.
There is truly a high octane stress element put into this watching this, and it lingers on you even after the credits roll. If there was any sense in Hollywood studios currently looking for projects, a TV series based on this would already be in the works.
Alas, as it stands, no such thing is happening and this underrated gem is sorely underappreciated when really it’s a La La Land for the horror genre and should be treated to the same acclaim.
Available on Video on Demand
2020 is undoubtedly a very strange year, and some of the movies that have managed to find a release date are seemingly products of the weird times we’re living in.
With that said, no matter when this film would have come out, there is nothing that could have prepared my senses for this horror-comedy experience filled with nudity, gore, and a succubus that drags its victims to Hell.
Succubi within the genre are usually an easy excuse to make a half-naked (or fully naked) demonic killer that preys on horny victims, it’s a sellable tactic, and comes with varying results in cinematic quality. That’s definitely not what this was.
This was anything but a cheap gimmick to use sexual jokes and tropes, in fact, director Keola Racela’s feature film debut is great in many individual aspects that it is one that needs to be seen to be believed.
Not only is it hilarious in such an effortless manner, but the entire tone works nostalgically for both the 90s era in terms of pop culture references and the 80s with some vicious practical effects violence.
Everything about this was fun, cool, original, and just plain exciting to see a fearless film that received deserved recognition in the festival circuit and hopefully that translates to further commercial success.
It truly rocks and made me yell at the screen more than once… in a good way.
We Summon Darkness (2020)
Available on Video on Demand
An odd game of cat and mouse spun with some of your standard Satanic Cult wildness, and then excellently complimented by a great performance by Alexandra Daddario… it didn’t work for some critics, but personally I loved it.
If you’re looking for a straight to the point horror experience, then this your perfect summer viewing that doesn’t shy away from the blood or sacrilegious elements.
Daddario is easily the main attraction to the film, but that isn’t to discredit a well placed and talented cast, and Johnny Knoxville’s minor role that does so much in a short period of time.
As a fan of anything to do with cults, the subject matter sold me right away (and though, it would be strange for an indie movie to do this), I would be really interested in a prequel of the events that take place before we’re thrust into the story. That just feels like something we’re being robbed of as an audience.
Additionally, there is more than enough material left over after the film finishes to fully expand into a further franchise, and it invites established horror Scream Queens to join the fray of all things bloody and twisted.
The pairing of summer heat and movies about cults, demons, and Hell seems to just work for me as a great way to unwind.
It could be the sweltering atmosphere of the hot nights or the fact that these stories rarely take place during the winter… either way there is no better season to enjoy binging these films.