Warning: This article contains spoilers. Some viewers may find the contents of the film described disturbing.
Horror movies may be a staple of Halloween fun, but once again, the market is mainly tapped for originality and creativity. The only big-name feature on the horizon is yet another installment into the “Halloween” series, but at least it’s coming out close to the Holiday, rather than the summer.
While Netflix and other streaming services have dozens of horror movies, the problem is trying to sort through the garbage and finding something halfway decent. It may be sensible, then, to look backward to the forgotten relics of horror movie history. Case in point - Ricky 6, a movie so underground that it only existed on bootleg VHS and DVDs, only recently appearing online.
Directed by Peter Filari and based off the book “Say You Love Satan” by David St. Clair, the film tells the real-life story of Ricky Kasso, a New York teenager in the 1980’s with a penchant for drugs and Satanism. Kasso murdered his friend Gary Lauwers in a drug-induced ritual sacrifice in 1984 and was apprehended a few weeks later, committing suicide in his jail cell. Kasso’s case provided credibility to the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980’s, and has inspired several songs and books since.
The film Ricky 6 was only shown in certain festivals, such as the 2000 edition of the Fantasia Film Festival, where it won an Audience Award. Afterwards, it was never seen or heard from again, until bootleg copies began showing up online, with full streams available as recently as two years ago.
But is the film itself actually worth watching?
The film must be taken with a grain of salt, as disclaimers note parts are fictionalized, with many names being changed and some characters invented.
Viewers may get a kick out of some of the other casting choices. Ricky is played by Vincent Kartheiser, who has since gone on to play Pete Campbell in the hit series Mad Men. One of Ricky’s friends is also portrayed by Patrick Renna, who many know as Hamilton "Ham" Porter in The Sandlot.
Ignoring historical accuracy, the movie is an entertaining view from start to finish. Ricky’s downward spiral, stemming from drug abuse, psychotic episodes, and growing occult obsessions all lead up to the film’s climax, in which Ricky murders Lauwers (renamed “Tweasel” in the film) and meets Satan himself, or at least believes that he does. His friends become acquitted based on questionable testimony, and the case dies with Ricky.
This is by no means the best film ever made. Although the special effects portraying Ricky’s drug trips are very interesting visually, other effects are real clunkers. The actual “Satan” he “sees” is hard to make out, and looks more like a Muppet that got hit by a car, which almost ruins the scene. Scenes depicting drug use by Kartheiser and Renna come off as more humorous than was probably intended, simply based on other works that we know the actors in. It’s hard to see Renna as being anything other than “the kid from The Sandlot.”
That being said, the movie isn’t bad, either. Again, ignoring historical accuracy, it is an interesting story altogether, and an interesting time capsule to the 1980’s, with decent acting and a rocking heavy metal soundtrack to boot.
The only real question is why the film was never released. There has never been an official statement as to why. Even viewing the film on bootleg copies proves that it was ready to release - the special effects, score, and credits are all present. Perhaps the story of why it never came out would be more interesting than the film itself, but at the time of this writing, the reasons remain unknown.
All in all, Ricky 6 is an interesting case in the world of horror films, and the story of how it never came out may make for interesting storytelling at Halloween parties. But for those who are searching for something different, underground, and inspired by true events, Ricky 6 may be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s different than the same old Slasher and Monster movies that we’ve grown accustomed to, and a cut above the dozens of B and C movies that plague online streaming services.
Most importantly, the film reminds us that the scariest monsters are human, and they walk among us every day.
Viewers are reminded that the film is inspired by true events, and may be disturbing to some. Ricky 6 can now be easily viewed by searching it on Youtube.