Satan sells tickets. Although the big red guy won't make a personal appearance in this weekend's The Devil Inside in theaters, his name appears in the title of this documentary-style scare show about a series of unauthorized exorcisms performed on an institutionalized woman who committed three murders 20 years earlier during a failed exorcism. If the ads featuring the nuns with the freaky dead eyes don't send a shiver down your spine then, well, you must not have gone to Catholic school like yours truly.
No matter what faith you do or do not follow, the infamous fallen angel has been a meaty role for actors over the years. Elizabeth Hurley played the Prince, er, Princess of Darkness in Bedazzled, in which she offers Brendan Fraser's character wishes so he can land his dream girl but—like any she-devil worth her pitchfork—traps and tricks our hapless hero. Satan is also played for laughs in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, in which the horny devil shares his bed with Saddam Hussein. In the Arnold Schwarzenegger apocalyptic horror show End of Days, Gabriel Byrne plays the kind of Satan who walks into a restaurant, fondles a woman's breasts and exits right before the whole place blows up. Hot damn!
Usually cinematic devils are no laughing matter. In the controversial 1987 thriller Angel Heart, Robert De Niro plays Louis Cyphre (Lucifer, get it?) who shows up to collect Mickey Rourke's damned soul. Peter Stormare is equally creepy in Constantine as the Dark Lord who literally rips the lung cancer from Keanu Reeves's John Constantine character so that he is temporarily denied access to heaven by preventing his death. Reeves faces the Devil again in the form of Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate, in which Satan is the head of—what else?—a giant New York law firm.
The unholy trinity of three of our favorite movie devils offers very different interpretations of hell's main man. Long before he fought alongside the elves of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen played a wicked Devil with a seething hatred for mankind in The Prophecy. Enough credit isn't given to young Harvey Stephen's performance as Damien in The Omen because you're never sure if the angelic-faced little boy is really the Antichrist or if everyone around him is delusional. Then there is Rosalinda Celentano as the creepy, hooded Satan who slinks around Jesus while a maggot wriggles out of her nose in Mel Gibson's torture-porn/spiritual pet project The Passion of the Christ.
"What is light without dark? What are you without me? I am part of you all," bellows Tim Curry's Darkness in Ridley Scott's 1985 fantasy film Legend starring Tom Cruise. Darkness—with his giant horns, ripped red physique and cloven hooves—is cinema's most memorable example of a classic Devil. Curry infuses him with seductive power that makes the film's heroine almost want to surrender to his dark will when he reminds her, "We are all animals, m'lady." Yes, we are, Tim—especially when playing Big Red on-screen.