Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Satan's Slave - 1976

Also known as Evil Heritage
You truly have no idea how excited I was when I saw that my Gorehouse Greats collection featured another movie from Terror director Norman Warren.  You truly, truly don't. Well, you might.  Anyways, it was super cool:  I made myself some cheese and crackers, I poured myself a nice effervescent water, and I dimmed the lights for the 1976 film Satan's Slave.  What's more, Satan's Slave promised me the appearance of Batman actor Michael Gough, who had played Alfred in the original Batman through Batman and Robin, and I had never seen him in anything else!  How exciting!

Then I was convinced this movie would be awesome because it begins with a ritual killing of a young, naked girl. Cut to the present and we see a guy getting hot and heavy with his girl (topless).  She doesn't want it and he tries to force himself onto her.  Then he acts like he's going to let her leave.  Then in a moment of pure insanity, as she is leaving, he bashes her head between the door frame and the door.  Ouch.  That was just a creative kill I thought I would mention.  Because I haven't seen it before, and because it would probably kill someone.  Anyways, then we go to our main character Catherine, and she's also topless!  Check the time of the movie at this point...3 different topless girls in 10 minutes, nice!  A promising beginning.

The plot involves this girl Catherine going with her parents to visit her uncle, Alexander, whom she has never met.  On their way there, Catherine's father suffers a sudden intense head pain, and crashes the car.  As Catherine goes to get help, the car randomly explodes!  Awesome!  She is then helped by her uncle, Alexander, his son Steven (the guy we saw killing the girl with the door earlier) and his lover Frances.  Alexander is played by Michael Gough, who does creep it up as a suited professor who obviously has something to hide.

This movie does slow down quite a bit now, 20 minutes in, as Catherine gets over the mysterious death of her parents, and as an attraction builds between her and her cousin Steven (gross). They eventually start sleeping together, Frances is pissed about it but seems to have no ability to say anything, could it be she's afraid of Steven and Alexander?  Hmmm.  Turns out that Catherine is almost 20 years old, and on her 20th birthday, the whole lot of her family here wants to hopefully, you know, if it's no bother, sacrifice her to their evil god.

It's a finely done, masterfully shot horror movie.  It's a little bit too packed in the beginning, I only say that because of the drastic slow down that happens.  I was super pumped after all the breasts, blood, and insanity of the first 10 minutes and I was looking forward to another film like Terror, only to then have to wait for like 50 minutes while things build up.  The pay off is eventual, and it's kind of weak in my opinion, so that doesn't help.  I definitely had one of those moments where you're just kind of mad at the film and the writers because of how thrown together the ending felt.

Great production value and camera work, this film looks fantastic, looks like the work of Argento or someone better even.  It was a low budget film, and it really does not show, everything in this film looks polished and amazing, so I was surprised.  Also the first to be featured in 1.66 scope formatting.

I would say that since I was expecting Terror, I was a touch disappointed, but this film fits better into the idea of a 70's psychological thriller, and as one of those it is great.  It actually felt like a classic Giallo film despite the clearly British filmmakers.  Incidentally, I wonder what happened to Norman Warren?  Looking on IMDb, he started young, only made films for 20 years or so, and then stopped.  Sure he has a short that he made in 2013, but what about real movies?  Unfortunately, now that he's in his 70's I doubt we'll see a comeback.

Also, who was Satan's Slave?  The only person I would keep coming back to would be Michael Gough as Alexander.  But he did not really feel like a main character.  Also, another minor thing, the main actress has this thing about having premonitions, but it never really comes into play, and feels like a storyline that was dropped at some point.

Another thing:  I don't care about "the children".  I am someone that reads online blogs, watches movies, etc.  I don't agree with this whole idea of "oh we can use whatever language we want, show blood and gore...but no nudity.  EVER."  If this was a video blog (sorry guys, just not that ambitious) I would show the nudity.  It's fuckin 2015, if people wanna see nudity, they can see it.  So here you go:

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