The Satan Killer (1993)


The Satan Killer
(1993) - * * *

Directed by: Steve Sayre

Starring: Steve Sayre, James Westbrook and Billy Franklin

A serial killer is stalking the Virginia Beach, Virginia area. The local news, talk radio, and other media are all buzzing about it, and they've named the killer "Satan" and the killings "The Satan Slayings". Satan, whose real name is Jimbo (Westbrook), is a hulking brute on a Harley. 

So, three men of different backgrounds all team up to stop him: Detective James Stephen (Sayre), a private investigator named Billy Franklin (Billy Franklin, evidently playing himself in his one and only movie role), and a male nurse who wants to join up with them. Stephen is still brooding because he keeps having flashbacks of when he and his wife went to the amusement park where they went on the bumper boats and she won a Bart Simpson doll. Thus, he has a drinking problem, and more or less goes rogue to stop Jimbo. Who will kill more people: Jimbo or Stephen? Find out when you watch THE SATAN KILLER!

The Satan Killer is a gem. It has a ton of rock-bottom-budget charm, and even though it came out in 1993 it still feels very 80's. Most of the actors involved were non-professionals and they give those sort of super-flat performances that are a joy to watch. Most people describe this movie as incoherent, which may be true, but to us that's not a negative. It's part of the fun. Many coherent movies are boring, and if you want something coherent, why are you watching The Satan Killer? It's also unselfconsciously tasteless and exploitative, which are more points in the win column as far as we're concerned.

Another positive for The Satan Killer are all the colorful side characters, like the radio DJ who debates the death penalty with a very engaged caller (the original title for the film was Death Penalty. AIP changed the title and created box art that has little to do with the actual movie), or the Bryant Gumbel-esque newsman who becomes so "emotionally involved" with the Satan case that he can barely read a teleprompter.

There's very little Satanist action in the film, despite everything. At one point Jimbo takes a woman's lipstick and writes "666" on a mirror. That's pretty much it. Our hero, Stephen, makes a worthy foil for Jimbo. Thank goodness he wears that unflattering yellow shirt in every scene he's in, because it helps provide much-needed lighting for the film. 

His sidekick, Franklin, is a feisty old man that could have been played by Don Rickles. Perhaps he was busy filming Keaton's Cop (1990) at the time. There are a lot of musical interludes throughout where we get to see what Virginia Beach looked like in 1993. It's yet another case of 'They don't make 'em like this anymore!' So, let's keep that in mind.

A movie highlight comes when an older gentlemen gets shot in the stomach with a shotgun, and then lazily puts his hands on his belly as if he's Santa Claus enjoying a good laugh. Evidently the higher-ups at AIP thought this was noteworthy as well, because they chose - of all potential moments - to put it in the trailer for the film!

This is the one and only credit for director Stephen Calamari, although some people think that is either a pseudonym for Stephen Sayre (which would make sense because it sounds like a fake name...although maybe it's real because why would you choose for your last name to be an octopus-based appetizer?), or that Sayre either directed or co-directed the film.

Nevertheless, the 'delightfully amateurish' (wags might say poor) technical qualities of the film may put many potential viewers off, but fans of rediscovered now-classics like Miami Connection (1987) and Samurai Cop (1991) will likely appreciate the nuttiness of what's going on here.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 

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