young couple (Mariana Karr and José Maria Guillen) with
a child on the way accept an invitation from a pair of mysterious
strangers (Ángel Aranda, Sandra Alberti) to spend the night at
their lavish villa; they soon find themselves embroiled in murder,
insanity and devil worship...
the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco in 1975, censorship
in the Spanish film industry became remarkably lax. Whereas explicit
sex and violence had previously been forbidden, a new certificate
was create specifically to allow filmmakers to wallow in such
depraved excess — the "S" certificate, which indicated
that there was plenty of skin and gore on display, and to leave
the kiddies at home. Filmmakers embraced this new found liberation,
and even Spain's own favorite cinematic black sheep, Jess Franco,
returned from self-imposed exile to practice his special brand
of cinematic magic. Satan's Blood
didn't emerge from Franco's fertile imagination, but it has some
of the characteristics one might expect from one of his pictures.
Instead, the film was the work of writer/director Carlos Puerto,
whose sparse filmography stretched from the mid-1960s until the
early '80s; Satan's Blood is almost
certainly his best known effort. Rumor has it that the end product
wasn't entirely Puerto's work, however, with co-producer/art director
Juan Piquer Simon being credited in some circles as uncredited
co-director. When one realizes that Simon was responsible for
the demented sleazefest that is Pieces
(1982), the wonkier aspects of Satan's Blood make more sense...
story is as thin as it is implausible. A young couple decides
to drive around aimlessly sooner than stay in for the (unspecified)
holiday; as they amble about, they are approached by a sinister
pair who claim to know the husband from college (resulting in
this gem of an exchange: "I haven't seen you since you were
this tall," indicating that the husband was considerably smaller;
"College?" Yeah right — we all hit major growth spurts
in our late teens!). The husband knows there's something up, but
what the hell — they're bored, so why not drive over an hour out
of the way to their creepy villa in the mountains. The couple
leave satanic literature liberally scattered around the house,
and nobody bats an eye. One traumatic Ouija board session later,
and things get saucy when the two couples decide to do a little
good old fashioned swinging — with a satanic twist, of course.
Ultimately, this all serves as a pretext to indulge in as much
sleaze and sadism as possible. The blood doesn't flow quite so
liberally as one might expect, but things still get plenty bizarre
— and the whole thing ends with a twist that the seasoned genre
buff can surely see coming from a mile away.
is not a poorly made film. It is hamstrung by uninteresting
characters and a nonsensical script, but Puerto manages to create
the odd frisson or two, and some of the cinematography is quite
striking. Librado Pastor's score runs the gamut from Eurotrash
muzak to creepy organ dronings, but it suits the mood well enough.
Simon's art direction is also rather handsome, helping to give
the illusion of adequate financing where there surely was none.
actors do a capable job on the whole. Ángel Aranda, best known
to genre fans for his turn in Mario Bava's baroque Planet
of the Vampires (1965), is effective and low key as the
head Satanist. He enters into the spirit of the thing effectively
enough, though his scenes are more or less usurped by sexy Sandra
Alberti, who plays his wife. Alberti conveys a raw sexuality and
seems entirely comfortable with throwing herself into the sleazier
aspects of the proceedings. The young, naive couple is bland in
comparison, though José Maria Guillen and Mariana Karr
do what they can under the circumstances. Karr is also a rather
photogenic and sensual presence, thus adding some further appeal
to the rather hackneyed situations. Jess Franco veteran Luis Barboo
is also on hand as the silent family retainer.
buffs looking for ample weirdness and sleaze will likely have
fun with Satan's Blood; others would
probably do well to skip it.
returns to NTSC DVD courtesy of Scorpion Releasing, who have issued
it as part of their Katarina's Nightmare Theater series.
(Previously available from Mondo Macabro, that edition has since
gone out of print.) The new DVD allows one to view the film with
or without the bookend hosting segments featuring beautiful WWE
starlet Katarina Leigh Waters. Waters treats the film without
snide condescension, and she actually seems to know what she's
talking about, so viewing it with the host feature isn't really
such a bad idea.
The film itself is presented fully uncut in its original 1.66
aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen TVs. Print quality is very
good — there's some damage evident here and there, but it's never
overwhelming. Colors seem accurately rendered and detail is strong.
Audio options include both the English dub and the Spanish soundtrack.
Sadly, subtitles are not available for the latter, forcing the
viewer to go with the inferior English track. The track is crisp
and clear, but the dubbing is frequently laughable. Extras include
a still gallery and trailers for other Scorpion/Katarina titles.