Anyone who’s ever worked in a tip-based service industry knows it’s no fun. You’re in the only category of job where it’s legal to pay $2.13/hour because the assumption is that you’ll earn way more than minimum wage in tips. Sometimes that’s true, but it isn’t always the case, especially in some industries such as pizza delivery. In addition to all the potential problems that someone waiting tables might have--rude customers, poor tips, long hours-- delivery drivers also face the unknown. Every door they knock on could be an amazing experience or a doorway to hell… especially if you’re delivering pizza to a bunch of Satan-worshiping cultists trying to summon a demon. Welcome to Satanic Panic.
Samantha “Sam” Craft (Hayley Griffith) has just taken a job as a pizza delivery person. She spends her first day zipping around town on her Vespa scooter delivering pizzas with a smile and bubbly optimism that belies the treatment she’s getting from her customers. From being tipped a used sweater to being conned into moving furniture for a guy who doesn’t even tip, Sam’s day just hasn’t gone well.
When a call comes in to deliver some pizzas to a mansion in wealthy Mill Basin, Sam jumps at the chance with the hope that this will be her big score for her first day. She enters the grounds of the mansion and gives the pizzas to Gary (Michael Polish). Gary stiffs her on the tip and slams the door in her face. Sam is dejected but prepares to leave. Only her Vespa won’t start. That’s the last straw and Sam stomps up to the door determined to get a tip.
When no one answers the door, Sam wanders around the side of the house. She slips in through an open door and finds everyone gathered in a large room. They’re all dressed in red robes and listening to Danica Ross (Rebecca Romjin) as she revs them up like she’s leading a motivational seminar. As Sam tries to get someone to notice her, the group reveals they are a Satan-worshiping coven of witches and tonight they will summon the demon Baphomet. But there’s a problem. Danica’s daughter Judi (Ruby Modine) was supposed to be the virgin sacrifice, but the young woman found out and had sex so she wouldn’t be suitable for the ritual.
As the group ponders where they will find a virgin before sunrise, Sam finally gets their attention. Her good girl look and demeanor immediately catch the cultists’ attention and when they find out she’s a virgin they kidnap her to use in their unholy summoning.
Now Sam is a good girl, but she may have to do some bad things if she wants to escape a fate worse than death as the coven wants to use her body as a vessel for the birth of a demon. Yeah working for tips sucks.
Satanic Panic is a horror/comedy produced by Fangoria, the legendary horror magazine. One of the problems that sometimes comes up with horror/comedies is that they don’t quite score as a horror film or as a comedy. Satanic Panic, for the most part, avoids that by combining a genuinely likable heroine in Hayley Griffith’s Sam, with some fast-paced action and a lot of over the top gore. The gore is almost all done with traditional FX rather than CGI, which is another plus for the film. This should be no surprise though with Fangoria magazine producing the feature. Rebecca Romjin is also diabolically delicious as Danica the head of the cult. Her rival for the leadership role, Gypsy (Ardin Myrin) is a good comedic foil for Danica’s menace.
Where the film ultimately falls short is its conclusion. Though writer Grady Hendrix does a good job balancing comedy and horror in his story, the ending feels almost like an afterthought as it ignores numerous elements set up earlier in the film that would’ve made for a more satisfying finish. Still, director Chelsea Stardust does a good job blending the horror and comedy while keeping the film’s pacing steady.
Despite a weaker ending than a film this fun deserves, Satanic Panic is still a winner for fans of the horror genre and has the potential to become a cult favorite (cult films, not the witches’ cult from the movie of course). It’s well made, well cast and overall a very entertaining movie to watch as long as you have a stomach for the kind of blood and guts one would expect from a Fangoria film. So if you’re in the mood for some devilish fun, check out Satanic Panic. However, next time you order a pizza give the delivery person a little extra on the tip. After all, who knows what happened on their last stop!