Satan’s Storybook (1989)

Satan’s Storybook prefigures the streaming horror anthology films that litter our watch services today yet it’s miles above those, not just within its two tales, but with a connecting story that makes you want even more.

Directed and co-written by Michael Rider, who was also a zombie in the shot on video Hororama, this movie starts with the bride of Satan (Leslie Deutsch) — who by the way looks amazing and just like a late 80s heavy metal album cover come to life — being abducted by ninjas, one of whom is her sister, who is played Ginger Lynn, so of course I was beyond in love with this segment. This upsets Satan so much that he demands that his jester tell him some stories to keep his mood light. This segment hints at a third story as well as more of the story which is never delivered and honestly, that’s the only thing about this movie I dislike, because it leaves you wanting so much more.

“Demon of Death” is all about Zeek Heller (co-writer Steven K. Arthur), a serial killer who abducts metal and horror fan — she has a Scared Stiff poster on the all black walls of her room — Jezebell Jones ((Leesa Rowland) and even wipes out her family before being sent to rot in jail. He’s just like so many metal dudes I knew in 1989 except, you know, he randomly looks up girls from the telephone book — placing this firmly in 1989 — and killing them. Then he gets arrested by the law, wo say things like “The only thing that stands between you and Old Sparkey is us, and we don’t give a lizard’s dick if you do fry, you buttplug!” The trial goes on and on and right before they throw the switch, Jezebell does some black magic that doesn’t really work out like she planned. It’s grimy and grainy and you can see people reading their lines off scripts, which some reviews proclaim as the sign of a bad movie, as if they’d never watched SOV before.

The second segment, “Death Among Clowns,” has a clown named Charlie (Grady Bradner, the writer of The Howling and Cameron’s Closet in his only movie as an actor) hanging himself in his dressing room and then engaging in lengthy dialogue with another clown named Mickey La Mort, who is played by this film’s director and writer Rider. This is the segment that usually causes people to hate this movie as it seems to go on forever yet I love it. Mickey the clown keeps getting more demonic as the segment moves on and basically this is two writers putting together endless dialogue in one location — with a Howling IV: The Original Nightmare poster no less — and no twist ending. Exactly what you think is going to happen — a clown dragging another clown to Hell — happens. It’s. kind of fascinating, like near murderdrone with no murder.

This movie has so much fog throughout that one wonders if this was considered as a pack-in with fog machines so that people could learn of their power.

Satan’s Storybook has the feel of Night Train to Terror and I mean that in the best of mind-melting ways. There are so many moments in this that make little to no sense at all and that’s what I demand from my films. If anything, this is a movie where Ginger Lynn magically transforms from a ninja to a barbarian princess and if you can’t find some wonder in that, I think you should give up watching films and reading this site. Bring on the synth and distorted voices. Bring on the rubber masked demons. Bring on the fog, the glorious fog.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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