“Satan, Hold My Hand”: This no-budget Lower East Side-lensed horror comedy was filmed for just $27.00

By on June 22, 2016

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 3

Satan, Hold My Hand– a 2013 horror film-cum-unintentional-comedy — was lensed on an estimated shooting budget of just $27.00, although director Courtney Fathom Sell has said the amount just represents money he spent on 99-cent slices of pizza and a case of beer for the cast.

Sell’s 50-minute feature follows the exploits of two Catholic school girls, Lizzie and Scooter, portrayed by New York-based burlesque stars Reina Terror and Scooter Pie, in a story that feels like a throwback to low-budget ’80s comedy-horror films.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 5

The girls run away from school one day and head to New York City, the Big Apple, where they’re abducted by a demented group of stoner wannabe Satanists who plan on sacrificing the girls in the “ultimate sacrifice” to Satan in exchange for musical careers, all while attempting to raise the spirits of their favorite rock-legends via a vintage Ouija board.

The girls, who of course fight back, raise holy hell and use the Ouija board to contact Satan, who turns out not to be as evil as everyone thought.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 2

Rev Jen and Rev Jen, Jr.

Sell and his girlfriend, Reverend Jen Miller, aka Rev Jen — the beloved New York City performance artist, writer, painter, preacher and poet, who wrote the screenplay — had originally come up with the concept for the film on their first date, a stroll around the Lower East Side, winning money on a scratch ticket before blowing it all on booze.

They later attempted to raise $400 on a Kickstarter-style crowdfunding page for their movie (their effort failed, with only $335 or 84% of the funding goal met), which would include wardrobe, equipment costs, and maybe even enough for booze at the end of each shoot.

Subsequently Sell had to obtain funding for pre-production working as a cook at various Lower East Side restaurants, while Rev Jen sold her panties (we’re not 100% sure about that, but she has sold her panties in the past, so we thought it’d be fun to mention).

Rev Jen also plays a Satanist named Echo having a romantic love affair with an incubus, or something like that.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 10

Sell later announced publicly that Satan, Hold My Hand — which was originally titled Satan’s Bitches and then Half-ASSED Satanists — was shot in “Drunk-O-Vision,” and was possibly originally intended as a soft-core feature … but we’re going to go ahead and guess that much of what appears onscreen was improvised by the players and shot guerrilla-style on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 8

Satan, Hold My Hand was apparently executive produced by Jonathan Ames, the writer/producer of HBO’s “Bored to Death” sitcom, which ran for three seasons (2009-2011).

He’d enjoyed many of Sell’s and Miller’s short films — such as The Sinful Bitches and Killer Unicorn — which were made for their own Art Star Scene Studios — or ASS Studios as it is commonly referred to as — which was founded by the couple in 2011.

ASS Studios’s stable of “Art Stars” — a term originally coined by Andy Warhol — are a group of performers, comedians, poets, storytellers, musicians, and performance artists who wholly embrace usage of the term, in a tongue-in-cheek way, to show they have a fun, non-competitive attitude compared with he otherwise competitive New York art and performance scene.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 6

These performers can often be found at “Reverend Jen’s Anti-Slam,” an infamous long-running alternative art and performance show which was started as a weekly event back in 1995 and has only recently returned after an extended hiatus: the self-proclaimed “world’s nuttiest open mic” is currently now being held monthly at the Old Man Hustle, a dive bar on Essex St. (We recently read an advertisement touting that “Everyone is welcome: Comics, Poets, Musicians, Performance Artists, even Mimes.”)

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 15

Miller — call her Rev. Jen, or “Elf Girl,” please — has written for publications like Nerve, ArtNet and a column for Penthouse, and in her own words, has even whipped up “500 words about a shitty TV show faster than anyone on the planet” in her writings for fan websites for Viacom and The WB network.

Her book Elf Girl — which VICE said “includes anecdotes about her mis-adventures in drugs, her litany of crazy jobs, from wannabe MTV VJ to 7-Eleven employee, and her quirky activism with the Dance Liberation Front against the Cabaret Law” — was published in 2011 by Gallery Books.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 13

Rev Jen — who often wears fake elf ears — also runs a Troll Museum in the front room of her tenement apartment, which is jam packed with a motley collection of troll dolls. Her tour of her museum — lasting an hour-and-a-half — is by appointment only.

Jonathan Ames has called Rev Jen “a luminescent performer, artist, and writer, not to mention sex symbol…a beautiful outsider whose tales enlighten, titillate, and profoundly amuse.”

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 4

This no-budget offering features Janeane Garofalo in a brief cameo appearance as Sheryl, Satan’s assistant. Sell has subsequently joked that she had been kidnapped in order to obtain her performance and released later after it had been completed. (Scream Queen legend Linea Quigley was also apparently wanted for a cameo but the scene wasn’t shot).

Satan, Hold My Hand also marks the return of actor Robert Prichard, recognizable from his roles in various Troma films, including The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke em’ High.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 12

Faceboy — longtime star of Faceboyz Open Mic and veteran of many appearance in ASS Studios’ shorts and Rev Jen’s films — ended up playing six characters here, including possibly the least scary Satan ever.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 14

The rest of the cast is rounded out by a gaggle of Art Stars familiar to devotees of Rev Jen’s Anti-Slam, including Hank Flynn, Pete Gerber, John King, Don Eng and Angry Bob (the political comedian and “Bored to Death” actor appears here as the “Crazed Cashier”).

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 9

Satan, Hold My Hand premiered at Midnight in September in 2010 at Anthology Film Archives in New York City, and was released in May 2013 by MVD Entertainment.

SATAN HOLD MY HAND 1

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.