In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hail Satan!

I actually wanted to review this title last week on Halloween, but ran out of time, so I bumped it to this Friday. For this On The Shelf, I wanted to go back a few years and pull out a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s a little indie called Satan’s Little Helper.

Dougie (Alex Brickel) only wants two things this Halloween. Go trick or treating with his older sister, and to meet Satan. When he meets a mysterious costumed man that afternoon, Dougie immediately thinks he is the Prince Of Darkness and brings him home.

Jeff Lieberman is a director who has been around forever, but has always worked outside the mainstream. Even though he has several significant genre entries to his credit, not a lot of people know him. If you were a child of the eighties, who must have walked by a copy of the killer earthworm flick Squirm at your local video store. You can also not forget his mind altering Blue Sunshine, a parable about recreational drug use (which featured a prophetic scene involving a police chase with a White Ford Bronco) and the criminally under seen survivalist slasher gem Just Before Dawn. Then in 2004, after a sixteen-year absence, Lieberman returned with Satan’s Little Helper.

Have you ever see a movie that you shouldn’t like as much as you do? Satan's Little Helper is one of those movies for me. The low budget should have been distracting, the little kid should have had me reaching for the remote and the ridiculousness of it all should have been a write off but… it wasn’t. The first time I saw it, I sat there transfixed. I’ve heard the word ‘quirky’ bandied about a lot for this movie and I can’t come up with anything better as it really is that. There are some parts of this movie that are just so ghetto, but somehow come off as charming. I love movies that can pull that off because it’s very hard to do. I think the more absurd parts avoid bringing the whole thing off the rails because it is established early on what kind of film this is; a silly horror yarn that wants to entertain you above all else. And entertain me it did.

There were several moments that had me chuckling to myself, some with (like Satan Man’s animated gestures) and some at (like how Dougie’s insistence that he’s going to marry his older sister someday is considered acceptable behaviour) the movie. Although the costume device is nothing new, it works well and I like how the story plays out. It doesn’t feel the need to over explain things. It also can’t hurt that the female lead Jenna (played by Torontonian Katheryn Winnick) is a fucking rocket! Also making an appearance as the flaky mom is Amanda Plummer who is well... Amanda Plummer.

This is a movie I checked out solely because of Lieberman and I wasn’t disappointed. He is a guy who always brings something new to the table and it is a shame he is not more prolific.

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