Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Satan's Slave (1976)

A Norman J. Warren movie that is considerably more coherent, if a bit less loopy than Terror, Satan's Slave (a.k.a. "Evil Heritage") tells the mildly horrifying story of an old English estate where there are Satanic shenanigans going on.

We begin with a Satanic ritual going on, complete with a nude girl on an altar, a dude in a goat's head mask, and the promise of reincarnating a dead witch. Then, we're suddenly taken to a country estate, where an American cutie is being wooed by an English-type fellow, who suddenly turns into the Second Earl of Rapesbury and tries to have his way with her before smashing her head in a door. Yipes!

And now we're in a flat with the lovely Catherine (Candace Glendenning) and her boyfriend lying in bed. For the count, we've now seen three nude women in less than ten minutes. Not that I'm counting, of course. But she's cute. And young Catherine is leaving with her mum and dad to go visit her Uncle and cousin who she's never met, right around the same time as her birthday, and she's having weird premonitions about it- none of this should be seen as foreshadowing!

We expect the trip to go poorly and indeed it does as dad gets a sudden pain in the head that causes him to drive the car into a tree. As Catherine runs for help, the car explodes and she basically sees her parents burn to death. The Uncle Alexander (played with real aplomb by Michael Gough, who was Alfred in the Tim Burton Batman films) and her cousin Stephen (Martin Potter), who we've already seen smash the noodle of a bird he was trying to rape, along with Stephen's long-suffering wife (Barbara Kellerman), take Catherine in and try to get her to relax. Of course, seeing your parents burn to death before your eyes can be troubling, but no harm, no foul after all.

Unfortunately, our little drama queen starts having nightmares about naked witches being whipped by priests and naked girls on altars being fucked with crucifixes (okay, sexy nightmares), and starts thinking that all of this might have something to do with the deceased witch Camilla, to whom she is related. Some of this might sound familiar from Vertigo and the Blood Splattered Bride.

At any rate, the plot thickens as Catherine and Stephen, the Lord Douchemere, start doing the old rumpy pumpy and she develops feelings for him. She wants him to leave for London with her, in spite of there being no obvious chemistry between them, or between him and human beings. Also, there's her boyfriend back home, but luckily he's walked off a roof and gone splat unbeknownst to Catherine. Nevertheless, this is all clearly leading to a Satanic ritual climax of some sort, and it's not clear that she will realize this before it's all too late.

Warren does a good job of holding this all together, whilst indulging in his taste for graphic bloodletting and female nudity. It's not a particularly fast-paced movie and the midsection drags considerably, but there are a few creepy scenes and a nice twist ending. Since it's available in a Crown International boxset containing twelve movies for about six dollars, it's well worth picking up.

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