Doctor Satan is a fictional character created by Rob Zombie. He was portrayed by Walter Phelan in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. He seems unrelated to a pulp magazine character of the same name from the 1930s and 1940s. The sinister physician's history has been told different ways by different people so many times that no one knows who he truly is and how he came to be.
In the beginning of House of 1000 Corpses, Captain Spaulding tells a group of teenagers the story of Dr. Satan while on his murder ride at his museum. He explains that Dr. Satan was a murderer, torturer and master surgeon by the name of S. Quentin Quale. Quale was an intern at Willows County Mental Hospital nicknamed weeping willows, where he performed forbidden brain surgery on patients in order to create a race of 'super humans'. Quale was discovered and ended up hanged by an angry mob of vigilante townspeople outside of town. The following day his body had vanished. No trace of Dr. Satan was ever discovered. The entire tale and location is dubbed as the Deadwood Mystery.
In Otis B. Driftwood's bio on The Devil's Rejects' official site, a different tale is told. Here we find that Baby and he were drawn into a cult led by Dr. Satan. Otis and Baby were expelled by the leader of this cult, after they murdered one of the cult's leaders with an axe following a dispute over a bottle of whiskey.
The Legend, as Told by Captain Spaulding
- "Now one of our local heroes, S. Quentin Quale aka Dr. Satan. Murderer, torturer, but most of all, master surgeon. Mr. Quale was an intern at Willows County Mental Hospital, nicknamed "Weeping Willows" for the never ending cries of pain. Through primitive brain surgery. Mr. Quale believed that he could create a race of super humans from the mentally ill. Vigilante justice prevailed; they took his ass out and hung him and that infamous hanging tree is no more than a stone's throw away from where ya'll's ass now seated. Then the next day, his body was found to be missing. Until today, no trace of Dr. Satan has ever been discovered. But then who knows...maybe he lives next door to you?"
The original tale of Dr. Satan told that he used patients who were near death in experiments. He attempted to create a race of super-humans, and when he was found out, a mob of angry townspeople hunted him down, and hung him from a tree. When the two remaining teenagers are lowered into the Catacombs, the coffin they are lowered in was attacked by the super-humans Dr. Satan had created. When Denise enters Dr. Satan's "operating room", she finds him experimenting on another person. After she was captured again, she awoke on the operating table to find she had become one of Dr. Satan's experiments. Though some believe this may have been a hallucination.
Role in House of 1000 Corpses
In the first film, House of 1000 Corpses, Captain Spaulding's myth about Dr. Satan led the teenagers to seek out the place of his hanging. This led them to meet up with the murderous Firefly family.
In the climax of the film, the two remaining teenagers are led into catacombs hidden beneath the ground near the Firefly house, where they encounter Dr. Satan himself, his surgically altered 'super-humans' and a hulking axe-wielding figure called The Professor or Earl firefly (whom we know to be Tiny and Rufus' father.)
Considering the film's conclusion incongruity, some fans, and even Rob Zombie himself, have suggested that the whole event was hallucinated by the last surviving teens.
It is believed that in an early cut of the film, Grandpa Hugo was revealed to be Dr. Satan. Supposedly, the whole legend of Dr. Satan was a ruse concocted by the Firefly family to attract more victims, and Grandpa Hugo played the role of the sinister physician. Zombie later scrapped this idea, saying it would be too anticlimatic, and rather had the real Dr. Satan show up in the film's climax instead.
Role in The Devil's Rejects
Dr. Satan did not appear in the sequel. Rob Zombie said he felt uncomfortable having him in the film, saying that the character would seem too out of place given the drastically different tone of the two movies. However Dr. Satan did appear in deleted scenes. According to Rob Zombie's commentary on the DVD, he was wounded in the opening shootout and was taken away to a hospital. (Doctor Satan is apparently in the ambulance during the opening scenes.) A nurse (played by Rosario Dawson) checks the doctor, now in a coma, when suddenly he awakes, grabs her throat and brutally tears it open before collapsing back onto the bed. The EKG monitor to his right continues to beep, signifying that he is still alive - and quite calm.
Due to clues by physical appearance, Dr. Satan is seen to be a very old man. And by clues of this Otis using the term of him "the old bastard". He also wears an oxygen apparatus, and mechanical arm contraptions possibly sustaining or supporting his arms for his medical procedures. His mouth is also stitched up, and his speech is complicated to understand. As noted in The Devil's Rejects deleted scenes, he speaks of " garbled bits of unintelligible bullshit". His appearance is also altered in the "old footage" shown during the Murder Ride. Where we see him operating on a helpless, mentally ill patient shown in black and white. As he wears a scientist/doctor outfit, a mask ( strongly resembling an executioner mask ), and a light on his head that doctors back in the old times used to wear. According to Rob Zombie, this was because during early cuts of the film Doctor Satan was merely a front for the Firefly family (Grandpa Hugo, as stated before, pretended to be him at times) and that he never truly existed in the first place. In fact, the person playing Dr. Satan in the flashback scenes is none other than Grandpa actor Dennis Fimple himself. His childlife/history remains unknown.