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Performing Arts General

Giving the Devil His Due

Satan and Cinema

contributions by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Regina M. Hansen, Simon Bacon, Katherine A. Fowkes, David Hauka, Russ Hunter, Barry C. Knowlton, Eloise R. Knowlton, Murray Leeder, R. Barton Palmer, Carl H. Sederholm, David Sterritt & J.P. Telotte

Fordham University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
General, Occultism, Demonology & Satanism
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Finalist, 2021 Bram Stoker Awards (Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction)
The first collection of essays to address Satan’s ubiquitous and popular appearances in film
Lucifer and cinema have been intertwined since the origins of the medium. As humankind’s greatest antagonist and the incarnation of pure evil, the cinematic devil embodies our own culturally specific anxieties and desires, reflecting moviegoers’ collective conceptions of good and evil, right and wrong, sin and salvation. Giving the Devil His Due is the first book of its kind to examine the history and significance of Satan onscreen.
This collection explores how the devil is not just one monster among many, nor is he the “prince of darkness” merely because he has repeatedly flickered across cinema screens in darkened rooms since the origins of the medium. Satan is instead a force active in our lives. Films featuring the devil, therefore, are not just flights of fancy but narratives, sometimes reinforcing, sometimes calling into question, a familiar belief system.
From the inception of motion pictures in the 1890s and continuing into the twenty-first century, these essays examine what cinematic representations tell us about the art of filmmaking, the desires of the film-going public, what the cultural moments of the films reflect, and the reciprocal influence they exert. Loosely organized chronologically by film, though some chapters address more than one film, this collection studies such classic movies as Faust, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Angel Heart, The Witch, and The Last Temptation of Christ, as well as the appearance of the Devil in Disney animation.
Guiding the contributions to this volume is the overarching idea that cinematic representations of Satan reflect not only the hypnotic powers of cinema to explore and depict the fantastic but also shifting social anxieties and desires that concern human morality and our place in the universe.
Contributors: Simon Bacon, Katherine A. Fowkes, Regina Hansen, David Hauka, Russ Hunter, Barry C. Knowlton, Eloise R. Knowlton, Murray Leeder, Catherine O’Brien, R. Barton Palmer, Carl H. Sederholm, David Sterritt, J. P. Telotte, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock

About the authors

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock is professor of English at Central Michigan University and an associate editor for The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He has published 24 books and more than 70 articles and book chapters with a focus on the Gothic in literature, film, and new media. Among his most recent book publications are And Now For Something Completely Different: Critical Approaches to Monty Python (co-edited with Kate Egan for Edinburgh UP, 2020), The Monster Theory Reader (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), and The Mad Scientist’s Guide to Composition (Broadview 2020). Visit him at

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock's profile page

Regina M. Hansen teaches at Boston University. She publishes and presents on horror, religion in film, neo-Victorianism, and the fantastic. Her works include the edited volumes Supernatural, Humanity and the Soul (with Susan George; 2014) and Roman Catholicism in Fantastic Film, and a special Stephen King issue of Science Fiction Film and Television (with Simon Brown; 2017), along with the novel The Coming Storm (Atheneum 2021). Her writing on film, folklore, and the supernatural has appeared in the Wall Street Journal Review and the children’s magazine Dig Into History.

Regina M. Hansen's profile page

Simon Bacon is an Independent Scholar based in Poznan, Poland. His edited collections include Undead Memory: Vampires and Human Memory in Popular Culture (2014), Growing Up with Vampires: Essays on the Undead in Children’s Media (2018) both with Katarzyna Bronk, Gothic: A Reader (2018), and Horror: A Companion (2019). He has published two monographs, Becoming Vampire: Difference and the Vampire in Popular Culture (2016), and Dracula as Absolute Other: The Troubling and Distracting Specter of Stoker's Vampire on Screen (2019), and is currently working on his third, Eco-Vampires: The Vampire as Environmentalist and Undead Eco-activist.

Simon Bacon's profile page

Katherine A. Fowkes is professor of popular culture and media production at Highpoint University. She is the author of The Fantasy Film (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) and Giving Up the Ghost: Spirits, Ghosts, and Angels in Mainstream Comedy Films (Wayne State University Press, 1998).

Katherine A. Fowkes' profile page

David Hauka teaches film directing and aesthetics at Capilano University’s School of Motion Picture Arts and screen writing, scene study, and 3D/virtual environment technique for actors in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia. His academic research focuses primarily on the influence of religion in American horror cinema.

David Hauka's profile page

Russ Hunter is a Senior Lecturer in Film & Television at the University of Northumbria. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming edited collection on the cinema of Dario Argento and is currently working on a monograph on the history of European horror cinema and an article exploring environmental discourses within Italian horror cinema.

Russ Hunter's profile page

Barry C. Knowlton teaches history, literature, and classics at Assumption College, and has published on a wide range of subjects in the humanities.

Barry C. Knowlton's profile page

Eloise R. Knowlton currently serves as Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Assumption College, and is the author of Joyce, Joyceans, and the Rhetoric of Citation (University of Florida Press, 1998).

Eloise R. Knowlton's profile page

Murray Leeder is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of Calgary. He the author of Horror Film: A Critical Introduction (Bloomsbury, 2018), The Modern Supernatural and the Beginnings of Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and Halloween (Auteur, 2014), as well as the editor of Cinematic Ghosts: Haunting and Spectrality from Silent Cinema to the Digital Era (Bloomsbury, 2015) and ReFocus: The Films of William Castle (Edinburgh University Press, 2018).

Murray Leeder's profile page

R. Barton Palmer is Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature emeritus at Clemson University, where he is the founding director of the World Cinema program. Palmer is the author or editor of more than fifty books on different subjects. He is also the editor of the South Atlantic Review, the Tennessee Williams Annual Review, and, soon, with Constantine Verevis, of World Cinema Traditions (Edinburgh UP). His latest film books are: (with Murray Pomerance), The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz (Texas UP) and (with Homer Pettey) French Literature on Screen (Manchester UP).

R. Barton Palmer's profile page

Carl H. Sederholm is professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brigham Young University and chair of the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters. He is the editor of the Journal of American Culture and is the author of multiple essays on authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Jonathan Edwards, Lydia Maria Child, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is also coeditor (with Jeffrey Weinstock) of The Age of Lovecraft (2016), coeditor (with Dennis Perry) of Adapting Poe: Re-Imaginings in Popular Culture (2012) and the coauthor (also with Dennis Perry) of Poe, the “House of Usher,” and the American Gothic (2009).

Carl H. Sederholm's profile page

David Sterritt is editor-in-chief of Quarterly Review of Film and Video, contributing writer at Cineaste, and film professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He is author or editor of 15 books and his writing has appeared in Cahiers du cinéma, The New York Times, Hitchcock Annual, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art History, and many other publications as well as numerous edited collections. He was film critic of The Christian Science Monitor for almost 40 years, serving two terms as chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, ten years as chair of the National Society of Film Critics, and ten years as co-chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Cinema and Interdisciplinary Interpretation.

David Sterritt's profile page

J. P. Telotte is a Professor of Film Studies in Georgia Tech’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication. Co-editor of the journal Post Script, he has published widely on film history, Disney, animation, and film genres, especially science fiction. His most recent books are Robot Ecology and the Science Fiction Film (Routledge, 2016), Animating the Science Fiction Imagination (Oxford, 2018), and Movies, Modernism, and the Science Fiction Pulps (Oxford, 2019).

J.P. Telotte's profile page


  • Short-listed, Bram Stoker Awards

Editorial Reviews excellent overview of an important cinematic character who has proven flexible enough to adapt to a wide range of contexts, themes, and perspectives. This volume is an important step towards understanding why the devil always gets the best lines.

Journal of Religion & Film

Hansen and Weinstock have collected (a lucky) thirteen new essays exploring the Devil’s cinematic avatars, from his earliest appearances in the films of George Méliès to the deliciously-living Black Phillip in The Witch (2015). Including discussions of generically-diverse films like Faust (1926), Prince of Darkness (1987), and The Passion of the Christ (2004), this volume will be of interest to theologians and film scholars alike.---Harry M. Benshoff, Professor of Media Arts, University of North Texas

Fascinating, lucid, and accessible, these essays create cultural and spiritual conversations about the fantastic nature of the demonic and the place of evil in human affairs.

Choice Reviews

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