Gorehouse Greats #9
So what would you do if your dad one day just up and went “Hey, I’ve got a brother I’ve never told you about and he lives in the ass end of British nowheresville! Let us all go visit him and we will have a jolly good time!”
You would probably look at him sideways and maybe suggest that he ease up on the homemade wine, right? Not 20 year old Catherine York (B-movie horror regular Candace Gendenning). Not only does she take off for the week of her birthday, she leaves behind her boyfriend, John (Michael Craze, who was also in Terror). Yeah, this is going to end real well!
Everything actually goes fine until they arrive just outside their uncle’s expensive looking mansion and both dad and mom burn to death when their car mysteriously hits a tree! We are then properly introduced to the group of lovely fun people who we’ll get to spend most of the film’s running time with. There’s uncle Alexander York (played by Michael Gough who’s been in damn near everything), cousin Stephen York (who we saw earlier in the film raping and murdering a random American girl), and the unrelated Frances who functions a some sort of secretary to Alexander and soon to be former lover of Stephen.
If you’ve seen a British Satan worship film from the 1970’s you pretty much know what’s going to happen, that is almost everybody is going to die a horrible painful death for your amusement. Thus, Satan’s Slave offers absolutely no surprises at all. So what does it offer?
In my write-up of Terror, I noted that director Norman J. Warren started off doing nudie movies until he found success with this film and moved in a horror-centric direction. As a result, Satan’s Slave is kind of situated halfway between two genres: sexploitation and grisly horror. Quite honestly, it’s a kind of uncomfortable mix. If you’ve seen stuff like David F. Friedman’s The Defilers (1965) or any seedy exploitation from the 60’s and 70’s, you know the kind of uncomfortable I’m talking about. For example, Satan’s Slave includes a male on female sexual assault (the woman is killed after), a priest who orders a woman stripped nude and whipped (she’s then burned to death), and several scenes where random nude women are sacrificed to Satan. It’s that grimy mix of nudity, sex, and violence that really made this film a success when it was released and not any skill on the part of its director. Because frankly without all of this rather nasty, and mostly female directed, depravity the movie would be pretty freaking hard to sit through. Mostly because it’s. so. sloooooow. The story inches along like a snail stuck on flypaper until the next bit of skin, “shocking” plot twist, or cruel bout of violence. This is also something I noted with Warren’s Terror: Blood and boobs are pretty much all that makes these films worth watching. That kind of thing can be fun if you’re in the right mood, and aren’t too bothered by women literally being treated like meat, but it can also be very boring. Satan’s Slave ends up being about 30% icky fun and about 70% “dear lord is this thing over yet?”
So while Warren still has a cult following with freaks like me that love this kind of thing, after watching two of his films, I’m just not that big of a fan. I need a bit more to keep me from falling asleep, you know? I want to go to the carnival and ride the rides, man! I want to eat cotton candy until I get sick and ogle the bearded lady. Staring at the dude biting the head off the chicken all night isn’t really my style.
On the other hand, that fingernail file to the eyeball was pretty bitchin’. Sigh.
- We get another kind of neat opening credits thing with this one. Every single drawing on display would make a really killer t-shirt.
- I think there’s like 4 pairs of boobs that get shown in the first 10 minutes of screen time. Not even kidding.
- Sadly, my small collection of David F. Friedman movies are stuck back in The States. Who wants to mail my copy of She Freak back to me?
- It’s weird that, thanks to this DVD set, that you can find this movie for about 5 bucks at Wal-Mart. Is this the kind of thing your average Joe Lunchpail puts on his TV set when there’s not football to watch? Cause that would be pretty cool if it were true.
Gorehouse Greats #5
Where do I even start with this one? How about with that poster up there, which is typically misleading. There is no actual “Devil’s hand” in the actual movie, the title is symbolic. I do like it though, it reminds me of Manos: The Hands of Fate. Anything that reminds me of Manos is a good thing in my book.
So what exactly do we have here? What we have in our much too eager sweaty hands, is a very early devil worshiping movie! I know this isn’t the first of its kind (be sure and check out The Seventh Victim (1943)) but it does seem to anticipate the boom in these kinds of movies that started in the late 1960’s. Of course this being the early 1960’s, they couldn’t actually call Old Scratch by his real name so the cult in this one worships…Gamba: the very scary “Devil-God of Evil.” How in the Hell the actors in this could say that freaking name without cracking up, I’ll never be able to figure out. It’s almost as bad as Exorcist II but Gamba is a much less silly name to say than Pazuzu and there’s no drunk Richard Burton to flail around and scream it. (Incidentally, drunk Richard Burton is what every movie needs to have.)
So our hero of this thing is a man named Rick (played by Alan Alda’s dad!). Rick really isn’t the best looking guy in the world. Or the most interesting. Or the smartest. And yet girls seem to fawn all over him. He’s getting married to the innocent Donna Trent (Mexican actress Ariadna Welter making her only American film appearance) but problems arise in the form of strange dreams he keeps having where he’s visited by a random blonde bombshell named Bianca (Linda Christian, who’s life is much more interesting than her film career). The movie takes a turn for the amazingly goofy when we end up in a doll shop run by Neil Hamilton (Inspector Gordon in the 1960’s Batman TV show!) and Rick gets seduced by Bianca and joins a murderous devil cult! It doesn’t take much coaxing for him to join either, because Rick really is that much of a dope. Or he just really wants to get into Bianca’s pants that badly. Probably a bit of both.
I mentioned in my last write-up that Rex Carlton was an uncredited producer on this and the whole thing really does have the feel of something he’d be involved in. That is, hilariously loopy in an endearing innocent kind of way, but with more than a touch of sleaze to the whole thing. There’s a ton of implied sex, which is kind of surprising for the time. You don’t even have to read between the lines to get that Bianca just wants Rick around for the D and if the movie turned out differently, she’d probably eventually just throw him away and find some other idiot boy toy to play around with. The whole movie is pretty much about a dude cheating on his fiancee, who’s in the hospital for most of the running time with a voodoo induced chest injury. I won’t even get into the misogyny that lurks behind of all this either. You can pick that out for yourselves.
No, I want to talk about this “cult” of eeevil people who do eeeevil things like…um…actually they really don’t do much of anything. Their leader kills people who betray Gamba’s trust but that’s about it. They spend most of their time sitting around listening to a dude play the bongos. It’s also worth nothing that they mostly appear to be bored middle-aged suburbanites that just show up at meetings because it’s more interesting than sitting at home watching reruns of Leave It To Beaver.
“So what are doing tonight, Ethel? I hear there’s a swell program on the DuMont network at 7 o clock.”
“Oh, the leader called. There’s going to be a sacrifice tonight!”
“Ooooh, call the babysitter! I’ll get our coats!”
So they go and the chant Gamba’s name over and over, watch someone get sacrificed by that doofy looking wheel-o-knives thing, maybe they catch some dinner after at a reasonably priced restaurant, and a fun time is had by all.
I’m not even sure what this cult is supposed to be either. It’s this odd mix of voodoo, witchcraft, and Satan worship and there’s even a random Buddha statue sitting in the temple! Ha ha, what? I know, right? That pretty much describes this whole movie. “Ha ha, what?” indeed.
- You know this is a cheap horror movie from the early 1960’s because a sweaty dude drives a car over a cliff. Two sweaty dudes get offed in this! Lesson #1: Don’t be a sweaty guy in an early 60’s horror movie.
- The opening title theme is actually a pretty cool surf rock tune. We hear it again later when Rick yells at Bianca to turn it off. What a loser!
- Lesson #2: Scotch tape fixes voodoo. I just know that will come in handy soon.
- “So what did you watch today?” “Oh, this movie about a devil worshiping cult that meets behind a doll shop.” “Well I found a french fry in my onion rings.” “Looks like we both had an eventful day.”