Tuesday, August 27, 2019


The stage was set for the Los Angeles premiere of Chelsea Stardust's Satanic Panic, presented by BeyondFest and Fangoria, and red was the theme. Not simply of the carpet, though the parade of guests certainly did get some attention there. The whole theater was set, with an eager audience and a special Satanic photobooth courtesy of Flipbook Frenzy, complete with costumes and props for the audience to imitate dark ceremonies of their own. Temporary tattoos with the film's title and logo were distributed and subsequently displayed on fresh flesh. Cinematic Void was present with an ample selection of horror films on sale. A ritual night all around.

Photo by Robert Enger
That audience certainly appreciated the film, responding to its unique tone and splatstick with glee. Stardust appeared pleased, as did the cast and crew who joined her on stage, including actors Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O'Connell, Hayley Griffin, Ruby Modine, Arden Myrin, Hannah Stocking, AJ Bowen, Clarke Wolfe, and Jeff Daniel Phillips, as well as producers Amanda Presmyk and Adam Goldworm. Chelsea took us into what her process was before, during, and after making this film. She cited such influences as Jennifer's Body, Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell, Deathgasm, and, of course, "motherf---ing SOCIETY."

Chelsea was first slipped the script in 2017. She was already a fan of writer Grady Hendrix's books, and when she read the screenplay, she knew she wanted to direct it, struck by how it was run by bad-ass women while making a comment about classism. She worked closely with Griffin and Modine, appreciating the female dynamic that makes the movie work, recommending Rosemary's Baby, My Best Friend's Exorcism, and other influences for them to watch. Goldworm knew that Stardust would be the one to make this story sing. Presmyk, who found the script to be a real page-turner, agreed, and the rest is history.

Romijn, the archvillain of the evening, admitted how fun it was to play someone "relentlessly evil." Though she has been a lifelong fan of horror films, this was her first experience starring in one, and she relished the experience. She also found the difference between practical and digital effects interesting, sharing that she had a lot of fun with Satanic Panic's reliance on practical effects.The actress' horror exposure will continue, as she is soon to be featured on the cover of Fangoria. Her co-star/husband O'Connell said he enjoyed his role. He joked that even though they've been married for years, "I ask her all the time to throat-fist me!" --  a request never granted until this film.

Everyone acknowledged that Griffin held the film together. This was her first feature film. She admitted it was "stressful as hell" at first, and even had a panic attack before filming, but the set was such a calming and welcome atmosphere that she thrived, she said.

Asked about working in "splatterstick," Bowen said it was "just another day at the office." He was already a big fan of Romjin, and their unique interaction here was an interesting way to meet her. His scenes kept him on the floor, where he was exposed to O'Connell's bare midriff. Arden Myrin informed the audience that O'Connell had the habit of hanging around set, even when he wasn't being filmed, wearing a crop-top.

Filming in Dallas, where the locals were eager and welcoming, was quite different than shooting in Los Angeles, where money is always such a factor, the crew said. They felt that everyone in Dallas was excited to be part of the process. On such a low budget, that was welcome.

Stardust talked about the post-production process, as well. She wanted the opening animation to evoke styles similar to those used for Creepshow and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. For the John Carpenter-esque synth score, she reached out to Wolfmen of Mars on Instagram, and it paid off. She even hinted at the possibility of a vinyl release.

Satanic Panic hits theaters on September 6, the same day as It: Chapter 2. Chelsea, a big fan of the It films, still hopes that fans will continue to support indie films. Ideally, the audience would have horror on the brain that weekend, and treat themselves to a double feature.