|Review||Satan's Blade (1984)||Director||L. Scott Castillo Jr.|
|Writers||L. Scott Castillo Jr. and Thomas Cue|
|Cast||Tom Bongiorno (as Tony), Stephanie Leigh Steel (as Stephanie), Thomas Cue (as Al), Elisa R. Malinovitz (as Lisa), Janeen Lowe, Ramona Andrada and Diane Taylor|
“I didn’t know she was going to take us to the twilight zone” – Tony
“Satan’s Blade” starts off with a bank robbery. The robbers kill two clerks and head out into a cabin at a remote snowy resort. Turns out that the bank robbers are two hot chicks who promptly get undressed. One girl then kills the other hoping to claim the loot for herself but she’s stabbed to death by an unseen assailant.
The next day (I think) a pair of married couples (Tony and Stephanie / Al and Lisa) are headed to one of the cabins in the area. A group of girls arrive at the same time and the only cabin available for them is the one where the two girls were murdered. They don’t mind that too much and the police seem to have finished their investigation (???) so the girls occupy that cabin. They’re even told about the legend of a mountain man who goes around killing whoever sets foot on the land he once inhabited but still…they want that cabin.
Needless to say we’re all set for a number of killings in this remote snowy area as these good folks fall prey to a knife wielding maniac one by one.
As a cult film lover or a slasher film aficionado (I even wrote a Master’s thesis on the cultural significance of Slasher films) I can count myself in a secluded group of film fans that actually enjoys, and can appreciate, the likes of “Satan’s Blade” and even wholeheartedly recommend it to those interested. It is genuinely a likable piece of film-making that doesn’t for one second pretend it’s anything other than it is and on that strength alone it more than makes up for it’s (numerous) shortcomings. Shortcomings such as; Amateurish acting, fake looking effects, really dodgy daylight lighting schemes, focus issues, crappy dialogue etc. but the mood alone with it’s setting make sure that the film’s overall atmosphere is one to cherish for slasher fans. There are at least two very good set pieces here, a nifty dream sequence and some good old fashioned suspense generated by the sheer will to produce something from next to nothing.
Receiving a limited release in 1984 but actually shot in 1980; this was a very low budget feature that obviously took it’s inspirations from “Halloween” (1978) rather than the “Friday the 13th” (1980) type of slasher as the latter was actually released after “Satan’s Blade” had finished principal shooting. The director, L. Scott Castillo Jr., has no other credit to his name but it’s cinematographer, Terry Kempf, actually went on to a lengthy career in films (mainly in the art department) and his shooting makes the most of the surroundings which are the film’s strongest asset. Icy wilderness surround the cabins and the pitch black photography is much better than the daylight scenes and this does help immensely in making “Satan’s Blade” somewhat a success. Also the piano and synth score (by Martin Jaquish – his only credit) also wears it’s influences on it’s sleeves but it is both quite catchy and mood driven and nicely sets the tone.
This film is never going to rise from obscurity and it really doesn’t deserve it, per se, but it’s a noteworthy slasher film that aims higher than it can possibly go. The Mountain Man legend and the whole subplot about the blade (which seems to have possessive power) doesn’t gel well with the raw unpretentious slice and dice nature of the film but an optimistic first time director wanted to keep the door open for a possible sequel. Who knows? “Satan’s Blade Returns” in 2020! Not likely; but make sure to think of “Satan’s Blade” when you’re in the Blu-ray horror section. I think you likeminded aficionados just might think it’s worth your while.