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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, March 17, 2023

Satan’s Slave (1976)

The movie opens with a guy in a goat’s mask doing some sort of Satanic ritual. There is a very naked lady on an altar… this becomes an indication of what is to come… and he sacrifices her to the devil or perhaps his evil mistress. I think they are trying to reincarnate a powerful witch named Camilla. Though I’m not entirely sure. Then we see a fella named Stephen romancing a lady before she gets very naked and then gets dead. This also includes a surprisingly explicit bit with some scissors and her lady bits!

Now we meet Catherine, whose first scene has her naked and in bed with her boyfriend. She is about to go on a road trip with her parents to meet an uncle for the first time. They get in the car and then there is a terrible accident on said uncle’s doorstep where the car hits a tree and explodes with only Catherine surviving. The Uncle, Alexander, takes her in and introduces his son who is the guy Stephen from earlier. This isn’t going to end well. The rest of the movie has Catherine seeing premonitions and dreaming of the past. This basically gives them a chance for more naked ladies. Also, her boyfriend back in London is hexed by Stephen and throws himself off a building. It all wraps up in a typical seventies’ bummer ending.

This is an odd movie that I suppose fits into the Satan worshipper’s horror subgenre of the seventies. The first fifteen minutes are interesting as are the last fifteen.  Unfortunately, the hour in the middle is painfully slow and boring. There are a lot of scenes that try to explain what is happening to Catherine, but in an effort to keep the big twist ending secret don’t really do much to keep the audience’s attention. I mean how many times do we have to see Stephen or some other hooded cultist stripping and killing ladies? No matter how well executed and sleazy those scenes are they get awfully repetitive and don’t move the story along.

What you doing with those scissors?
That said I did appreciate some of the gore gags we get. There is a bloody eye that is a neat visual, some stabbings including guts oozing out, a branding, and a nasty bit with some broken glass used to dispatch a duplicitous assistant. Though the two highlights are the boyfriend’s head popping from hitting the pavement and a cringeworthy nail file to the eyeball which is surprisingly front and center on the screen. I also liked much of the odd angles used in the camerawork as well as the shadows and lighting. It all adds to the unsettling creepy vibe to Satan’s Slave.

What really kills the movie for me though is the glacial pacing. The movie focuses so much time on them walking around and Catherine slowly realizing that her uncle and cousin are bad people. Oh, and I’m not sure if things in England are different, this is an English flick, but she is pretty quick to jump into bed with her first cousin. In case what I just said isn’t clear she and Stephen do the horizontal tango! Again, that adds to the sleazy vibe but isn’t she supposed to be our heroine? Toss in an odd twist at the end with her father and the final typically seventies implied bummer fate of our main character for a movie that makes you ask. What was the point?

While there are some cool bits here and there, I just can’t recommend Satan’s Slave. There are far better examples of movies with a similar plot that are far better executed and less sleep inducing.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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