The Fallen Angel and his evil universe appear quite often in the realm of science fiction media. Typically depicted as an alien, inferring that future generations mistake his state of being for that of a god-like creature. My catholic upbringing inspired within me a staunch set of atheist beliefs, through observing how christians interpreted their own holy texts to suit their own agendae. However, while I don’t believe in the weird, supernatural history that the bible conjures up, I have always had a fascination with the idea of the devil. Particularly in the incredible ways that various media have depicted him. Robert Johnson’s ‘Me And The Devil’ blues equates Satan to being the spirit of temptation. And the devil himself is portrayed as nothing more than a trixster to whom Johnson purportedly sold his soul to, in exchange for the ability to play the blues. The children’s illustrated bible that I had as a kid featured an amazing painting of Satan tempting Jesus on the mount. A writhing, muscular figure with the patent red flesh, snake tongue, horns, goatee and barbed tail.
In ‘Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars’, penned by Robert Holmes and Lewis Greifer, Satan comes in the form of the Egyptian demi-god, Sutekh. The Doctor announces his other monikers during a confrontation, Satan being one of them. According to Egyptology, Sutekh was the brother of another god, Horus. Also known as Set, and Sutan, he became synonymous with all things evil. The Sutekh that we meet in the Who serial is one that has been trapped beneath a pyramid by Horus. His status as ‘The Destroyer of Worlds’ and his intentions to live up to this present the Doctor with a very perilous problem, as Sutekh attempts to bring about his freedom. Sutekh is very stylishly played by Gabriel Woolf. While he is confined to sitting upon his throne for most of the serial, his voicing of the character suggests both intelligence, sensitivity, even gentility as well as menace. An unusual but highly effective strategy for a character-voicing. Interestingly, Woolf was called upon again to voice the character known as ‘The Beast’ in the rebooted Doctor Who episodes, ‘The Impossible Planet’ and ‘The Satan Pit’. A second occurence of Satan as a Doctor Who alien.
Perhaps an even more remarkable appearance of the Dark Lord in the world of the Time Lord could have been the little known about movie, ‘Doctor Who Meets Scratchman’. The titular villain being another of the Prince of Darkness’s aliases. The story was apparently sketched out by Ian Marter (the actor who played Harry Sullivan), and Tom Baker himself. The movie was to feature not only Satan, under the guise of Harry Scratch, but also the Greek God, Pan and the classic Who foe, the Daleks. The green light never shone for this project despite being linked to people as high profile (at the time) as Vincent Price and Twiggy.
Dr Who is not the only vehicle through which the christian vision of evil merges with science fiction . Hell is brought to bear upon the crew of the Event Horizon, in the film of the same name. Sam Neill’s character, Dr Weir becomes possessed by a malevolent force and he takes on a devil-like persona in his attempts to hijack the spacecraft to the fiery underworld. If we want to get all b-movie, we have many more to choose from. The British movie, ‘Devil Girl From Mars’ (1954) provides a camp, horror/sci-fi romp. ‘Zombie Women of Satan’ (2009) stretches the science fiction brand a little, but then weird mutational viruses definitely salute the more apocalyptic side of sci-fi. Angels become the harbingers of doom in movies such as ‘The Prophecy’ (1995) and ‘Legion’ (2010), while the antichrist is seen as the star of the show in the Omen trilogy (1976-1981).
I was unlucky enough to start my computer games career working on Konami’s doomed game, ‘Apocalyptica’ (2003), which totally tanked. The game featured a mission to destroy Neo-Satan and multiplayer action gave teams the chance to choose angels or devils in good versus evil battles to the death, set in Outer Space, Nu Hades and even hell itself.
Whatever the vehicle, the doomful overtones of the devil, hell and all the weird rhetoric of evil add a welcome, supernatural dimension to science fiction media.