Thursday, January 15, 2009
The one of the best things in the world about crap movies is the anticipation that the title alone can create. Who doesn't get a thrill from titles like "Blood Shack," "Invasion of the Blood Farmers," "The Killing Of Satan," and "Chain Gang Women"? You get all of these wonderful mental images of weirdness and violence and the chance of nudity. (Let's be honest here. Guys are the primary audience for this nonsense. Women usually have better sense.) The reality of the movie most often does NOT live up the promise of the title. Is that really the filmmaker's fault? Usually not. They either give you a fairly juicy-sounding but accurate title, or they give you some title that could mean anything. What you make of it is up to you.
Given a title like Satan's Slave, you have a number of images that can crowd into your brain. Degrading behavior, kinky violence and Ol' Nick popping in for a bit of slap-n-tickle maybe? After seeing the stunning Candace Glendenning, you can't wait for the naughtiness to begin. And you know from the opening sequence that her amorous cousin has a passion for rough sex. Don't forget the burning deaths of her parents and her menacing uncle played by Michael Gough. Oh yes, this is gonna be tasty.
Break out the unsalted crackers and the warm milk. Oh, sure, there are a few kicks and thrills, but really, you want a visual and visceral experience. Go watch Jerry Springer.
The set up: Out of the blue, Candace's mum and dad hear from dad's long-lost brother who invites them to spend the weekend. Wouldn't you know it, but just as they roll into the drive, Dad has a seizure, smacks into a tree at around 5 miles an hour which gravely injures Mum and as the daughter runs to the house for help, the car explodes into flames and -- POOF! -- instant orphan. Uncle just happens to be a doctor, and his prescription has nothing to do with calling the cops. He orders the poor girl heavily medicated, for her own good of course. What happens after that is a series of weird visions, kissing cousins and the feeling that the poor girl's good health isn't the order of the day.
I have to give this film credit for being wonderfully shot and the wardrobe master found some incredible outfits for Ms. Glendenning. It had all the qualities of a good Gothic tale, but it somehow went wrong. Not sure when or where. And the ending...well, you should have counted on it from the opening bit of exposition. Even though nothing of great importance happens in the film, it still moves at a rather decent pace and even when it slows down, you can still look at the heroine of the film. She looks like a variation on Catherine Zeta-Jones...um, Douglas.
What does seem unfortunate about this particular version, released through BCI's Exploitation Cinema series, is that it appears that quite a bit of the gore has been trimmed. In a rather film of this nature, snipping even a few seconds of anything can lead to a loss. When you see something happen and the film seems to jump to an after-the-fact bit of blood, you start wondering what the hell you missed. The storyline, such as it is, doesn't seem to suffer, but I rather enjoy seeing all the icky bits.
So, bottom line, buying this film on the double feature with director Norman Warren's later feature, "Terror", is questionable. It can be had for ten bucks and you get some cool trailers mixed in if you watch the thing as a grindhouse double feature, but considering BCI (which is being resructured and may make the next comment moot) tends to re-release their features in 8- and 20-film sets for $10 to $20, you may consider holding out to get more bang for your buck. Personally, I wish I had bought "Chinese Hercules". Oh well.