Legend has it that one night down at the crossroads, bluesman Robert Johnson met a large man in a suit who tuned his guitar, played a few songs, and left. In that moment, Johnson was a legendary bluesman, but his soul belonged to Satan. In truth, Johnson’s devils were the bottle and other symptoms of fast living, but the fact that there’s tale of a wayward bluesman who is believed to have met the Devil is proof that romance is still alive.
Young Goodman Brown
Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown is basically the Robert Johnson story but white as Hell. Salem puritan Young Goodman Brown must make a journey in the night despite the pleas of his wife Faith. In the forest, he meets an old man with a black serpent-shaped staff (who could that possibly be? Is it Popeye? I don’t know!) who shows him a vision of those around him embroiled in sin. While the book is a heavy-handed metaphor and can be a tedious read, the portrayal of the Devil therein is wonderfully iconic.
Vigo Mortensen plays Lucifer in the third act of the Christopher Walken-driven angelic horror movie The Prophecy, and does so with pretty perfect pitch. Like all the angels in the film, he wears a fluttering black overcoat and has pretty a sense of alien menace to him; unlike the others, however, he isn’t driven by some confusing bitterness spawned of humans having free will (well, he was, but then he got his own place). As he talks about filling your mouth with your mother’s shit and how lost souls come to him eventually because “while heaven may be closed, I am always open, even on Christmas” Mortensen just exudes pure evil. A fantastic performance.
The Testament of Gideon Mack
The most modern entry on our list, The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson is a novel about a priest who doesn’t believe in God who, after tumbling down a gorge, awakens in the company of, and being cared for by, the Devil. Yes, Satan is clouded in a little bit too much poetic ambiguity, but Robertson builds up towards the scene well, and his portrayal of Mack and the Devil’s meeting is both beautiful and eerie. A worthwhile read for the thoughtful fan of the Fallen One.
The Simpsons, “The Devil and Homer Simpson”
“It’s always the one you least suspect!” In the fourth installment of the Treehouse of Horror series, Homer Simpson announces he’ll sell his soul for a donut, which is delivered by Satan in the form of Ned Flanders. Homer tries to trick Ol’ Flanders by not finishing his donut, but then eats it in his sleep anyone. If Satan weren’t Ned Flanders, this episode would be ‘Eh’, but he is and we’re all the much happier for it. Also, he and Bart are tight.
Christ In The Desert
In the World’s Finest scene of the Bible, Jesus, while fasting out in the wilderness, comes across the Devil, who then proceeds to offer him things like bread, power, and dominion over all men, which Jesus predictably rejects. Though not exactly the most dramatic meeting with the Serpent, it’s Satan’s biggest play in the Bible, and gives us a creepy depiction of him waiting for us in the desert, at our darkest moment.
The Master and Margarita
Where does the Devil go for a quick laugh? Russia, of course! Bulgakov’s bizarre politically-charged novel sees Satan ending up in a godless land, flanked by a massive talking black cat named Behemoth, and having to deal with a series of madcap metaphors, including a lot to do with Pontius Pilate. The book is fun, but can be a chore; however when Satan shows up, he’s like something out of a piece of confusing folk art. Worth the read.
Well, sure. Dr. Faustus will forever be the ultimate Guy Who Met The Devil, as a bargain with the dark powers in the name of knowledge and satisfaction is now named after him. That said, though Faust’s deal with the Devil is iconic, it’s not all that good; he spends a lot of his time after getting everything wanted pontificating about how he got everything he wanted. Not exactly the most decadent guy.
Tenacious D and The Pick of Destiny
Sometimes, when the Devil shows up, you just want him to be a red-skinned horn-monsters with claws who plays metal like a fucking master. Tenacious D’s rock devil is like something that dwells in the collective subconscious of a Black Sabbath concert, a straightforward demon with a straightforward nature who only wants to repeated stretch KS’s button to its utmost.
The Codex Gigas
How did a monk sentenced to death write a massive illuminated bible in one night? Legend has it Satan helped. According to the myths surrounding its creation in the 12th Century, the Codex was scrawled by its blasphemous writer with the help of the Devil himself the night before he was going to be walled in for breaking monastic vows. And though the image of Satan drawn in the book is more My Monster Buddy than Father Of Lies, there is a strange evil to its jovial expression.