My Sweet Satan (Jim Van Bebber, 1993, USA)

My Sweet Satan is renegade auteur Jim Van Bebber's 1994 short film, based on the real-life story of Ricky Kasso. Kasso, a teenage drug dealer, murdered his friend in 1984, and the occultic aspects of the murder spawned what became known as the nationwide "Satanic Panic" in the United States throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. Van Bebber pays the Kasso character under the moniker of Ricky Kasslin, and the film ends with his suicide (Kasso did indeed commit suicide by hanging in his jail cell). The film then returns to the site of the "Satanic" murder scene.

The film takes a semi-documentary approach, with audio clips of former friends and associates of Ricky. It notably transplants the action of the original crime from the 1980s to the 1990s - the style and music are pure 1990s. One of the more shocking aspects of the film is a piercing sequence that drags on in close-up for a very long time. There is a grittiness to the film that captures a kind of 90s Midwestern trash nihilism. For those interested in the aesthetics of 1990s metal and alternative culture, Van Bebber's film is a time capsule.

The film's grittiness is further enhanced by some of the non-acting of the supporting cast, particularly Ricky's victim Gary (Mike Moore). The film's finale is suitably grisly, especially for a no-budget 1990s short film. My Sweet Satan may not be a masterpiece, but it's no doubt that Van Bebber has a balls-to-the-wall style that - despite its budget shortcomings - makes his films more memorable than many studio-produced horror movies. The film is worth watching more than anything else for its aesthetic. Those interested in 90s alternative culture will appreciate My Sweet Satan, also anyone interested in the "Satanic Panic" that swept America during this time.


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