Saturday At The Movies Presents Lucas Mangum’s Hidden Horror Gems: Satan’s Little Helper

In the spirit of of the upcoming holidays (and since Editor Andy Burns was late getting this piece up – Andy), it’s all too appropriate to highlight Jeff Lieberman’s black comedy/horror film for this edition of Lucas Mangum’s Hidden Horror Gems. In this film an imaginative but painfully naive little boy becomes the pawn of a masked serial killer on Halloween night.

A more recent effort relative to the films in Jeff Lieberman’s body of work, this deserves in many ways to be counted among such classics as Just Before Dawn, Squirm and Blue Sunshine. Filmed in cheerfully bright colors, the twisted nature of the events that unfold are easily digested and there are many laughs until the viewer stops to think about what he’s watching. Corruption of a minor. Murder. All of it is done under the guise of elaborate Halloween hoaxes. The movie definitely works on multiple levels.

What’s best about this film is the sheer amount of love apparent in every frame from director Lieberman. He’s a filmmaker who has a long, well-documented history in the genre. He knows what works, what doesn’t, and how to put a spin on these elements to make them humorous. The best moments involve this comical approach. The most elaborate of these gags is whenthe killer kidnaps the little boy’s mother and takes her to a Halloween party where all the attendees think her captivity is part of a clever costume on the part of her husband (who is dead back home). The sequence clearly demostrates how fine the line can be between what’s funny and what’s terrifying, and how effective it can be when this line is walked and occasionally crossed.

Judging by the way the film ends, it seems clear that the filmmakers had a franchise planned. Though said franchise has yet to come into fruition, the elements are all in place: an enigmatic villain shrouded in mystery (check!), a clear formula for how the events will unfold (check!), a competent creator behind the story (check!). If all of this comes together, I’d love to see Satan’s Little Helper 2, and for those of you that haven’t seen the original, make it a priority this Halloween season. It’s perfect autumnal viewing for those of us who like our entertainment a few shades darker.

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