Top 10 List of the Best Depictions of Satan in a Movie by The Critical Movie Critics

Feature: Top 10 Depictions of Satan in a Movie

I was holding out to see if Terry Gilliam could top his depiction of Satan in Time Bandits with that of Satan in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus before finishing off this list. He didn’t, so here is my Top 10 list of Movie Satans in the same form it was in a month or so ago.

Criteria: Must be in a film (obviously); no animation (sorry South Park); may or may not be explicitly named Satan

Max von Sydow as Satan

Actor/Actress: Max von Sydow

Film: Needful Things

Who would suspect a kind old man was the devil? No one, which makes this all the more off putting. But when an elderly gentleman opens up a shop in a quiet town and offers townsfolk their every desire for a mere pittance you’d think someone should stop to ask questions.

Elizabeth Hurley as Satan

Actor/Actress: Elizabeth Hurley

Film: Bedazzled

Some would say the devil in the original Bedazzled played by Peter Cook should trump Hurley’s performance. I say no way, take a look at her — she is the perfectly proportioned Satan and one I would gladly give my soul to for three wishes (who am I kidding, I’d give it to her for nothing).

David Warner as Satan

Actor/Actress: David Warner

Film: Time Bandits

Great film in which a manic Satan, played by David Warner, tries to get his hands on God’s map of time portals. His ire is only exacerbated by the fact the map is in the hands of a bunch of thieving dwarfs. Ever try and get your hands on a bunch of thieving dwarfs? They’re tough to catch.

Viggo Mortenson  as Satan

Actor/Actress: Viggo Mortenson

Film: The Prophecy

Wickedly cruel and brutally hardcore. As an added bonus, he has the appetite for eating nonfood items like a beating heart freshly pulled from the chest. I’d say those are all the necessary traits needed to be a top ranked overseer of evil.

Jack Nicholson as Satan

Actor/Actress: Jack Nicholson

Film: The Witches of Eastwick

It’s Jack. Do I have to say more? Okay, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer co-star, giving this devil who just wants to have fun more than he bargained for. Much more.

Al Pacino as Satan

Actor/Actress: Al Pacino

Film: The Devil’s Advocate

Pacino was meant to play Satan at some point in his career. He absolutely relishes the role of John Milton, a powerful Manhattan attorney who, through our broken justice system, corrupts the good and helps the guilty escape punishment. He even manages to make Keanu Reeves look not so wooden.

Tim Curry as Satan

Actor/Actress: Tim Curry

Film: Legend

You can thank your mother for this one. This incarnation is taken directly from your childhood nightmares of what Satan looks like — just amped up 100-fold. And to top it off Curry looks like he is having the time of his life bringing pain and suffering to Tom Cruise!

Rosalinda Celentano as Satan

Actor/Actress: Rosalinda Celentano

Film: The Passion of the Christ

Just looking at her pale, bald and epicene image is enough to bring feelings of discomfort and put a bad taste in your mouth. Her interpretation of the devil is the most distressing of all portrayals on the list. The film itself is pretty damn disturbing too.

Peter Stormare as Satan

Actor/Actress: Peter Stormare

Film: Constantine

Thick Euro accent, dressed impeccably in a radiant white suit, dull eyes of a binging meth addict — something is clearly not right with this picture. Topping the striking visual, Stormare adds the perfect touch of depravity to the role.

Robert DeNiro as Louis Cyphre

Actor/Actress: Robert DeNiro

Film: Angel Heart

A very twisty, complex movie that requires repeated viewings to make sense of. What you’ll know from the first showing, however, is this one of DeNiro’s better performances. As Louis Cyphre, a man out to collect on a contract, he sweats cool, composed evil. He may not get that much screen time, but when he is on, you simply cannot turn away (even watching him eat an egg is uncomfortable).

Yes, I know there are lots more. Clue me in on the good ones I’ve missed (don’t give me shit like Gabriel Byrne in End of Days . . .)

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'Feature: Top 10 Depictions of Satan in a Movie' have 14 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 9, 2010 @ 10:11 am Karle

    How about Gabriel Byrne from End of Days? :D

    Dave Grohl in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny gives Tim Curry a run for the best classic devil..

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 11, 2010 @ 1:19 am Kevin Leen

    Earl Pastko plays Satan in the little gem of a movie Highway 61. Check it out.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 12, 2010 @ 3:46 am Violet Brown

    Good call with the DeNiro as Louis Cyphre. Angel Heart is a freaky flick.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 12, 2010 @ 8:34 pm Joshua Williams

    I find Tim Curry more convincing than the other actors. He really appeared to be like satan in this Legend film.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 20, 2011 @ 10:23 am andrew m

    This may sound crazy, I know, but really, in an episode of sci-fi show “Quantum Leap”, the hero Sam Beckett suddenly finds himself faced with two of his friend Al, with the one who’s been helping him all along turning out to be none other than the devil himself, out to punish Sam for righting all those wrongs throughout history.
    Part of what made it work for me was the way that the real Al told Sam that their supercomputer Ziggy had confirmed that this other Al he was seeing was definitely something real! Then adding to that, the devil replies “Which is more than can be said for you!” – which is extra-spooky because usually only Sam and animals can see Al!
    Also it was on late enough for me to be heading off to bed right after it.
    And when the devil actually grabbed Sam by the throat and made them spin around the room, you just couldn’t think how Sam could possibly escape this one!

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 3, 2011 @ 6:17 pm Dan

    Al Pacino’s depiction was probably the best. The devil is presented in Christian theology on subtle, charming, and manipulative.

    Tim Curry’s Satan is just ridiculous and over the top.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 8, 2011 @ 3:47 pm Dan

    No love for George Burns in “Oh God, You Devil?”

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 18, 2011 @ 8:48 am Jens

    I’d place Tom Waits in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” as best devil ever!

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      March 11, 2013 @ 5:51 pm Deez

      Not the best devil ever but he was a great devil. Definitely better than Jack Nicholson.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    September 29, 2011 @ 9:37 am jim

    Juliette Caton as Girl Angel/Satan in “The Last temptation of Christ”. Satan came in a form of a little innocent/harmless girl basically asking Jesus, how would you like to live your life as a regular man? No Horns, no pitch forks, no fire and brimstone. Just a tempting the savior of man with a “little” question.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 6, 2012 @ 3:33 pm SpeeDo

    Elizabeth Hurley makes a great devil. She’d make a great angel too!

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 17, 2013 @ 11:32 am Meloni

    I caught a little indie film Pawn Shop Chronicles a few days ago and Sam Hennings was Lucifer posing as preacher. It was somewhat unsettling. You should look for it.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 18, 2015 @ 3:23 am ergotth

    how about Tom Waits in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”?

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 3, 2015 @ 6:49 pm jellobringer

    For me it’s a toss up between De Niro and Pacino. Both are very charming and manipulative, exactly how I figure the devil would carry himself.

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