I’ve been waiting for this movie for a loooooong time, ever since about the time Mr. Larry Fessenden earned a permanent spot on my map as one of the new tycoons of horror after being introduced to Ti West’s The Roost by my good friend Dennis. If you’re not familiar with Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix and you’re a horror fan, you should be. While a lot of the stuff Fessenden has made various contributions to as writer, director, actor, or producer may be outside the box for those looking for ‘classic’ horror examples, he’s still one of the best indie artists around within the genre. As Ti West said of him on the Triggerman special features (paraphrase), “Larry’s the kind of guy that will give you money to make a movie”.
We need more of that. Like the stuff coming out of his circle or not, with all the re-makes, re-imaginings and re-lapses out there, well, this is where the grass roots stuff starts. And Satan Hates You is a pretty darn good example of that.
Is it a great movie? Yeah, I think so. At first, aside from all of the awesome imagery packed into this flick I was a bit perplexed by the plot, or lack thereof. You see, there is not so much a plot as there is a narrative. Huh? Listen, it’s the story of two different people, Marc and Wendy, leading debaucherous lives in the same town, hanging out at the same bar (where Reggie Bannister is the bartender no less!), both slowly traveling into their own personal hells. Marc hates himself because he is a closet homosexual; this leads to psychopathic behavior. Wendy subsists on a day-to-day regiment of continuous drugs and risky liaisons in public Mens rooms. Both are fairly fickle and dangerous even, blinded to common sense and good taste by their own personal demons (literally, wonderfully played by Fessenden and Bradford Scobie). The film follows these characters through their downward spiral until something of a breaking point is reached, leading to enlightenment (of a sort) and…
Well, resolution, but to say more would be a disservice to potential viewers. Not that you won’t see it coming a mile away, but still, I had fun with this and don’t want to ruin anyone else’s.
So while a hair trigger plot there is not, the story of these two lost souls is the narrative’s device – that and giving us copious amounts of sleaze, satan, gore and debauchery as our two anti-heroes learn the lessons of their lives.
So I was a bit taken aback by this MO when an amazing revelation occurred to me – a revelation that cemented my already burgeoning love for this flick. Writer/Director/Producer James Felix McKenney did what apparently no one ever thought to do before and really made it work. What am I talking about?
He made a film in the style of one of those marvelous little Christian comic books put out by Chick Publications.
I wrote a post on these a year or two ago – there was a born again guy who was the janitor at my high school. He used to give these to all the kids, apparently hoping they’d ‘scare us straight’ when really all they did was evoke much laughter and, truthfully said, some pretty enjoyable reads. You see, much like the Chick books Satan Hates You purports to deliver an authentic religious message (not, I think, because that was on McKenney’s agenda, but because he was committed to doing the style in as much sincere gusto as he could muster) by utilizing examples of what are ‘wrong’ in society – loud rock music, booze, drugs, sex, etc. However, also like Chick, Satan Hates You relishes in the atmosphere. Those chick books had some pretty appealing, gnarly images and ideas in them. I know that when the character gets pulled down to hell and welcomed by the devil amidst his throne of human heads or whatever I’m supposed to be scared, but reading those books I was always blown away at how dark and cool the art could get, regardless of the message. What Chick never understood was that people into the ‘hedonistic’ lifestyles they were embellishing like to see that kind of stuff, and as such, get a real kick out of reading the books, message directly disregarded (or scoffed at more than likely is the usual reaction to the childish ideas often contained within). McKenney, Fessenden and crew know going in that to lampoon that style, to convert it to the big screen and run with it no holds barred is to give the fans of horror what they want – drugs, booze and beelzebub.
And you know what? It really worked! With a cast that boasts Fessenden, along with Angus Scrimm, Michael Berryman and Reggie Bannister among plenty of other great genre folks, and with a ripping soundtrack including the undeniable Black Kiss by Thirsty Satan Hates You is a fun horror ride that has (finally!) arrived just in time for Halloween!
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