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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Satan's Blood (1978) Horror Cult

Satan's Blood (1978) - "Escalofrio" The opening scene of Satan's Blood has little to do with the film's main story other than to establish the precedent that Satanic cults have rituals and that those rituals involve sex and murder. It has no bearing on the plot at all. The woman is forced onto the alter and the old horny priest kneads her breasts like dough and then mounts and fucks her until he stabs her in the chest. This really is an artifact of the type of film it is. When horror films became popular in the 1970's in Spain where this film was made, many were co-produced with other countries, particularly Italy. Strict Spanish censorship kept many from being screened in Spain at all or the versions were chopped up to make them clean. When the dictator General Franco died in 1975 within two years censorship was abolished and a new class of movie was developed the "Clasificada S". It meant that the film contained strong sex scene violence and horror. "Satan's Blood" is one of those movies, lots of sex, bursts of bloodshed but placed in a way that could be edited out for markets that did not allow such scenes, and yet the story could somewhat hold together. Produced and Directed by Juan Piquer Simon who is famous for the slasher "Pieces", this earlier work has some very promising parts to it. -- paraphrased from Peter Tomb's description in the Mondo Macabro DVD extras.
The story concerns a couple, "The As" Andy (Jose Maria Guillen) and Annie (Mariana Karr) in the dubbed version I have. The film makes a point to let us know Annie is pregnant and later that they have had a miscarriage in the past. So one would think that this was important information. They are looking for something to do for the weekend and while out are flagged down in there car by another couple, Bruno (Angel Aranda) and Mary (Sandra Alberti). Bruno seems to know Andy from school but Andy can't remember him. They are invited to come out for drinks at Bruno's house and agree to follow them there. At the house there seems to be inconsistencies in Bruno's story but Andy is still taken with the couples friendly attention. Strange that Andy and Annie's current address is on the back of the school photograph. the hosts are a bit off but not startling so. What is even weirder?
1. There is a guy other than the gate keeper roaming about the house trying not to be seen.
2. Mary has an amazing gaze that can mind control the dog Blackie.
3. When Annie comes into the kitchen she finds Mary bent over the counter her head in a bowl eating what appears to be raw meat without her hands. That's weird, and making dog noises. It leaves you thinking that she may be a werewolf or something.
They start talking about talking to the beyond with the Ouija board. Everyone is open to the idea as it seems like it might be fun. At this point pregnant Annie has been drinking wine and smoking, I guess it was not the same approach to pregnancy then as it is now.

By the dreadful day of judgement.
By the four beasts before the thrown.
Having eyes before and behind.
By the fire which is about the thrown.
I command thee to grace us with your presence, to enrich our poor souls, to take us into your heart.
Talk to us O powerful one...
The seance brings out some personal information about both Bruno and Annie and ends with Annie fainting. When she comes to they are going to leave but the storm outside they will have to stay the night. Another nudity scene is interjected and then we get to Andy thinking about the photograph. Going over the points in Bruno's story that don't make sense. They hear Blackie their dog and then we see that the thing is dead and being dragged by someone outside. Strangely though that night Annie is awake late and hears the dog again, she gets up and goes downstairs only to run into the stranger, who promptly tries to rape her. Since all she has over her lovely thin body is a bathrobe he comes damn close before being kneed in the balls. This is it for our couple so they dress to leave. When they get to the living room they see the couple in the middle of a ritual, nude in a pentagram. They somehow get enchanted and there starts a long night of foursome sex. You can see the magic in the air as they are all rubbing oil on each other and doing satanic rituals. It doesn't seem to go completely right, Mary after having Bruno blood smeared on her abdomen screams a frightful scream.
Seeming to have forgotten all of the nakedness Annie the nurse by trade tends to Mary only going off with Bruno to look for something to give her. Mary back in the bedroom with Andy makes her move so that Annie will walk in as she is passionately kissing him. Create conflict in your duped couple, this is a smart idea. Divide and conquer to keep them from leaving together. When Andy goes after his pissed wife Bruno and Mary go at it making animal noises. The strange rapist wanna be watches Bruno from outside but the gatekeeper comes up behind him and kills him.
Insert a dream scene where a creepy doll walks into the room and Mary in a shear black nightie tries to seduce Annie and you have the makings of a freaky night.
Everything conspires to keep the A's at the house including Bruno and Mary taking their car and going to town to drop there own car at the shop. They arrive back to find the slightly pissed of A's who have been snooping around. They made it up to an upper room where they found a picture of themselves. Something is definitely not right and they are getting out of there. They do not even remember the photo being taken. Bruno of course pulls a wire in the car so they are going no where. Where the hell is that dog too?
There are some really freaky scares and it gets really out in the open after the moment where Mary's shadow scares the shit out of Annie and then they see Blackie hanging dead in the pantry. Annie has had it and a lot of the veneer goes off the other couple. They are in the other room when we hear a gunshot. Bruno is injured in the head. They watch him die. Mary goes off on a moped before they know it and returns with a doctor who accuses Andy of killing Bruno. He orders the As to stay and await the authorities and leaves. They are not sure what to do next but when they realize they have not seen Mary in a while they find her slit wrists in the tub. Putting her in a bed she suddenly pops upright and in a demon voice says she is not dead yet, kill me kill me. Andy stressed at this point does just that???
We move toward a climax and a as Andy and Annie go to leave. Mary is there dead and standing with a gun, the struggle for the gun and Andy kills the woman again. They stage it like she is still in the tub, why? Who the fuck knows at this point. Again they go to leave except now we see Bruno's body is no longer on the couch. They get to the car but have to go back for Annie's purse. Bruno is there back from the dead, Annie shoots his ass. Then the freak doll... bang, then a scream from beyond the grave and the doors of the house start slamming shut. They find the body parts of the wannabe rapist and then get out of the place.
When they arrive home there is one more climax scene which leaves you thinking that maybe they we dead all along. Nothing ever came of the baby in the oven thing and the film does a twilight zone final shot that leaves you perplexed. Overall for what it is it is a reasonable confusing film but one that it not terrible. If only it made just a bit more sense. Maybe Andy and Annie were already dead and this is some sort of private hell. Suicide played a part in the personal stories of both Bruno and Mary, so maybe they were ghosts playing a part in that hell. Certainly the violent ending scene and then the one to follow could support such a hypotenuse. The nudity scenes are plentiful and the people are attractive to look at. If you like that then you are in luck, at least with the cut I am reviewing here. This is really a borderline recommendation because I can see a lot of you really hating this. There era though produced so many more horrible films than this.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended.

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