This is a great opportunity for any actor to play the Prince of Darkness, but has anyone done it better than these guys?
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Although the devil may be the personification of all that is wrong and sinful in our world, the mere smell of sulfur, speaking in tongues, and head-spinning have always been enough to put butts on seats and silver in hands, no matter what name you choose to call him.
An endless stream of films that demonize humanity’s archenemy have been released over the years. It’s not difficult to see why. We’ve been fascinated by movies about the devil ever since The Exorcist came out in 1973, scaring us like we’d never been scared before.
Audiences saw the first-ever on-screen corruption of youthful innocence as 12-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) was possessed by the powers of darkness in William Friedkin’s 1973 classic, which still tops polls as the scariest movie ever.
All the more terrifying because you could only view these ominous forces through the eyes and skin of a youngster who was projectile vomiting and spitting obscenities.
When it comes to The Exorcist, the devil himself does not appear, but his henchman Pazazu does. There are very few physical renderings of Satan, but when they’re done correctly, the effects are magnificent.
Then put down your pitchfork, put down your hooves, and let the damned to their own devices, because something wicked is on the way in the form of Screen Rant’s selection of the 10 Best Movie Depictions of the Devil..
1. Robert de niro – ANGEL HEART (1987)
Any picture starring Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke at the prime of their game was always going to be demonic in nature, and Alan Parker’s noir horror mystery Angel Heart is no exception. De Niro portrays Louis Cyphre, a dapper man with a cane. Yet Harry Angel (Rourke) doesn’t realize until the end of the film that his employer is the enemy of mankind, and that he sold his soul to Satan a long time ago and conveniently forgot about it.
There is evidence to suggest that Harry used to be a well-known magician by the name of Johnny Favorite. To find the man he once was: Johnny Favorite, Cyphre hires Angel, a private investigator who is also a fiendish fan of devilish games. After a while, Angel’s amnesia fades, and he realizes he was Favorite all along.
As he comes to terms with the fact that Cyphre isn’t just a “dime store joke,” but rather the devil himself, he feels abandoned. “Would I have been more believable if I’d had cloven hooves and a forked tail?” wonders De Niro, giving a masterclass in portraying a passionate yet understated wickedness.
The character and phrase that De Niro uses to great effect may have been hammy in another actor’s hands, yet it is generally disregarded when discussing the actor’s portrayal of the devil. With a true air of an old, ancient, and somewhat weary evil that is sick of the heinous sins of man, this Satan dominates the show. You’ll want to be aware of this. You’ll never look at a boiled egg the same way again after seeing Angel Heart.
2. Al pacino – THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (1997)
The Devil’s Advocate sees Al Pacino portraying the horned one with all the vigor, zest, and fervor of a comic Tasmanian devil with a hardcore methamphetamine habit, in contrast to Robert De Niro’s sombre, detached, and curiously placid portrayal of Lucifer in Angel Heart.
The author John Milton, who penned the epic Paradise Lost, is the inspiration for Pacino’s John Milton character, who is a charming rogue. He’s charming, cheeky, and a success with the ladies, but he’s also a lawyer, which is a major drawback. The truth is that he’s the head of a New York City legal firm looking to corrupt a bright young lawyer by the name of Kevin Lomas (Keanu Reeves). In the end, it turns out that Kevin is actually the dark one’s unwitting son because, let’s face it, no one can play unwitting like Keanu Reeves. Kevin is faced with a choice between following his father’s wishes and having sex with his half-sister and impregnating her with the Antichrist, or shooting himself in the head.
Taking his own life opposes Milton’s teaching that “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” Even if Pacino’s devil lacks depth, he reflects the materialism and ambition of today’s society, and hence is appropriate for the role.
3. Sam neill – OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT (1981)
From a slyly smiling dark-eyed cherub with a fondness for Rottweilers and a penchant for making his nannies hang themselves from skyscrapers, to a billionaire businessman with a passion for killing foxes and drinking whiskey, the Omen trilogy chronicles the life of the antichrist. “Damien Thorn” is played by Sam Neill as a devil who has watched way too many James Bond movies in Omen III: The Final Conflict. His demeanor and demeanor are impeccable, and he is a charming guy. He also likes to rape, infanticide, and strangle priests as a way to kill time.
Besides being a ruthless leader of a multinational organization, Thorn is also the father of all boys born in England on March 24, 1982. not to dislike the language, but because it is when Christ’s Second Coming is predicted to occur. A birth that has long been predicted as throwing a wrench in the devil’s plans to build an evil dominion without end.
It’s not until Damien has shown the audience how enraged Satan is, that the film comes to an end. The Old Testament Lucifer Morningstar, who was expelled from Heaven for his arrogance and jealousy, appears in The Final Conflict as the devil. I like to compare Damian’s antics to an immature teenager lashing out at a distant and emotionally distant father in the attic scene. What can you offer humanity, charlatan??” Damian spouts his disdain for all the ethical nonsense. Your sanctimonious morality has been the only thing you have done since you emerged from the woman’s huge hole.” Not only is Damian’s petulance a factor, but Christ doesn’t appear to be paying attention, and not simply because he has flipped the head of the statue upside down.
4. Tim curry – LEGEND (1985)
Tim Curry portrayed Ronnie Kray in a film of the same name 30 years prior to Tom Hardy making cinematic history as Reggie Kray in the upcoming Legend.
A teenage Tom Cruise portrayed an elf in the forest who battled the Lord of Darkness in Ridley Scott’s Legend, despite the lack of crazy East End antagonists in the movie.
In the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Curry played Dr. Frank N. Furter, but his performance of the devil in Legend is just about as recognizable. He looks like the devil from every kid’s childhood because of Curry’s intensely colorful make up. He’s a raging crimson, with enormous horns, a nasty baritone sneer, and a laugh fit for a creature that hunts down serial killers. He’s over-the-top even by medieval painting standards. There are many ways to scare a child, but this is one of the best.
It is the dark that is the devil in myths, the devil in children’s imaginations, the devil in our closets that we try to escape, and the devil in all of us that we choose to portray as a terrifying monster.
5. Peter stormare – CONSTANTINE (2005)
If Keanu Reeves had been cast in Constantine, it would have been one of the worst casting errors in film history. He is a predictably wooden Keanu Reeves. Peter Stormare’s portrayal of Lucifer was the one thing that saved DC Comics’ darkest cinematic hour from being tarnished by Reeves’s savagery toward the chain-smoking exorcist.
Peter Stormare’s Lucifer spreads like a particularly noxious and contagious pathogen throughout the city. It’s like his skin is dripping with corruption and wickedness, and he looks like an addict who has taken an overdose of evil. When it comes to Stormare’s demeanor, it all fits together to portray a devil devoured by fleshly perversions to enslave the purity of his soul.
Clearly, we are dealing with a Lucifer who is sick to his core, wicked to his very core, and pure evil. For Christ’s sake, he wears white suits and burns the wings of angels! After meeting him, you’ll probably want to take a bath in bleach.
6. Rosalinda Celentano – THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2005)
The actual enemy of Mel Gibson’s tribute to sadomasochism, The Passion Of The Christ, was the torture porn, which cast a gloomy and violent shadow over the film’s delicate nuances and impassioned performances. Nevertheless, Rosalinda Celentano’s picture of Satan endures long after the traumatic experiences of being beaten to a discolored bruise in the mind.
The devil has long been portrayed as a female character in popular music, but this is a first for the silver screen. It’s a shame, because as everyone who has upset a woman knows all too well, hell hath no fury like…. Celentano from The Passion of the Christ would be a good representation of Satan’s feminine aspect if you’d ever imagined it.
Like the obsessive admirer Johnny Cash didn’t want, Gibson’s Satan is dressed in all black and has a voice that sounds like something out of a nightmare.
7. Gabriel byrne – END OF DAYS (1999)
For the Rolling Stones, “Man of riches and taste” was the subject of their song, “Sympathy for the Devil.” According to the movie End of Days, Gabriel Byrne (or some other kind of supernatural entity) may be that man. By making a movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger going up against Satan in order to save humanity from impending doom in 1999, End of Days cashed in on our collective concerns in a genuinely horrible way.
If not for the addition of Gabriel Byrne, the end of the world could be preferable to this premise. Byrne is a devil for the well-heeled and the cultured because he is as cool as ice. I like the way he looks and the way he speaks. He’s a Wall Street banker, which is the most important thing.
This depiction of the devil by Byrne perfectly portrays the sense of impending doom that pervaded most of the twentieth century. When good men give up and do nothing, evil thrives. Because Schwarzenegger finds his religion and uses grenades to help him exorcise Satan, God is pleased.
8. Jack nicholson – THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987)
Jack Nicholson is the perfect performer for the role of the devil. He exudes a lovely, slightly deranged quality that, in the blink of an eye, can transform into full-blown insanity, complete with frothing at the mouth, howling at the moon, and an axe. Nicholson’s ability to go from 0 to 100 was first seen in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Of course, Nicholson’s Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick is a completely different kettle of fish. Using his great charm, he divides, conquers, and controls people like a cult leader with a newfound zeal and resolve.
Eventually, the three witches Van Horne has enlisted turn on their commander because they are terrified of the evil he has unleashed in them. The devil, like an enraged pimp, is determined to put an end to any strife inside his stable. Prior to vanishment, Van Horne makes sure each witch of Eastwick is carrying his kid, but not before determining discretion is preferable than bravery. Van Horne is a modern-day devil created by Nicholson. As a con guy, a manipulator, and most importantly, a deadbeat dad, he’s the complete package.
9. Walter huston – THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER (1941)
Al Pacino consulted Walter Huston’s portrayal of the Lord of Flies in The Devil and Daniel Webster as a source of inspiration for his portrayal of Satan in The Devil’s Advocate because it is so timeless and compelling.
Scratch may appear to be an innocent rural child, but he is in fact the ruler of the universe, the devil himself. In exchange for a pot of gold, the devil buys the soul of Jabez Stone (James Craig) from the cash-strapped farmer, who has had seven years of good fortune. But Stone isn’t willing to pay the price for all the good times they’ve had. His buddy Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) comes to his aid after Mr. Scratch offers him an extension in exchange for his son’s soul.
In front of a jury selected by Mr. Scratch, Webster defends Stone for breach of contract (and consisting of some of the most notoriously evil men in American history). Second chances and the purity of one’s soul are eloquently defended by Webster in this essay. For Stone’s sake, the jury agreed that one should be able to fight back against the destinies and the foreman ripped up Mr Scratch’s agreement. When it comes to the Devil and Daniel Webster, it’s all in the details, as the saying goes.
10. Juliette Carton – THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988)
In Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Satan appears in numerous guises, but the Lord of Lies is most effective as a tender-hearted little girl angel. First, the devil ambushes Christ (William Dafoe) as he sets out to find God’s will in the desert on his first journey there. “God is not alone out there,” John the Baptist tells him. Indeed, the son of God is confronted with many manifestations of Lucifer, which people refer to as the devil.
You will hear the voice of the devil say, “Why are you trying to save the world? Your own sins don’t suffice. That audacity to think you can save the entire planet! Moments like this can be extremely nerve-wracking. Even though Christ triumphantly overcomes his long-standing adversary, he ends up being crucified for his efforts, which was not part of the long-term plan at all. Christ is visited by an angel (Juliette Carton), who conveys the message that God adores him and only wants the best for him. She aids him in his descent from the cross, whereupon he meets Mary Magdalene and they have sex. He then moves to a cottage with a few of women and enjoys a peaceful existence.
Judas (Harvey Keitel) tells Jesus at the end of his life that he has been a traitor and that the young girl angel was actually Satan, who misled him into an ordinary household existence and he has not achieved his destiny of sacrificing himself and giving redemption to everyone.. As soon as he says, “Let me be your son,” Jesus returns to the cross and cries out, “It has been achieved! I am your son.” It’s done!” and then dies. Proof, if any were needed, that Satan is most deadly when he appears in the form of the innocent, and that the temptation to choose personal comfort over doing the right thing is a major one to look for.
For as long as there isn’t a global warming catastrophe, we will continue to be fascinated by films about the devil and his heinous deeds, since they touch a nerve with us and convey the same message that Dante’s Inferno and Paradise Lost once did. We are all at risk, from the most pious to the most depraved, because of the corrupting power of the devil and evil within us. Pass the popcorn, please.