Satan’s Blade 1984 Review

Satan’s Blade 1984

aka Espada Satánica

Directed By: L. Scott Castillo

Starring: Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steel, Paul Batson

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

This will be the second time I have written a review of Satan’s Blade, as it’s a film I watched seven-years ago and 8987548754874874874874rated it under an old user name on the IMDB. As I have said previously, I don’t get as much time to browse my old collection of VHS and as this is not on DVD, it is not one of those that I could convert to MP4 and enjoy on my iPad on the way to work. I have, however, recently had a little bit of time on my hands. Basically my parent in-laws are visiting from sunny Poland for two-weeks and as we only have two bedrooms (one with a single bed), I’m off to my mum’s for a little break. When the cat’s away, the mice will play and all that, so I watched Cards of Death, Moonstalker and Satan’s Blade one after another on my first night of freedom. Oh the debauchery!

Now as I said, I have already had a say on this dirt-cheap but alluring entry, but as the years have passed and my film-knowledge has grown, I have actually noticed that my opinions have changed quite a bit. Of the 700+ slashers that I own, Satan’s Blade always stood out to me, because of the cheesy but intriguing cover, which boasts a skull-faced killer in a cape holding a blade and staring out in to reality as if to say, “buy me young man, I will 874734387983983989833absolutely terrify you”. To a teenage boy, this was pretty intriguing stuff and back then, these young eyes were unaware of how much hyperbole eighties cheap video companies would add to their VHS covers. It’s actually pretty fun nowadays to look back on the amount of boxes from that time that had absolutely *no* significance to the film contained inside. Nowadays if Apex, Mogul and the like were still distributing movies, ambulance chasing lawyers would have a field-day with the false-advertisement claims. I bought an Argentinian VHS that I found in a shop in Spain, because I also search out most flicks in my country of birth as in general they are unrated and it allows me to see the complete version. In case you are interested, the blurb and tagline on that copy are equally as nonsensical

A group of ski bunnies and a pair of married couples head off to a cabin in the mountains for a weekend break. They 8738738738738733soon learn that the site has a murderous past; with the most recent of its victims dying only a few hours earlier. Despite this, they ignore the warnings and book in to their rooms. Before long an unseen maniac begins slicing his way through the visitors one by one. But is there more to the location than meets the eyes?

Watching Satan’s Blade is a bit like hearing ABBA at an elderly relative’s birthday party. You know that its rubbish and you shouldn’t really like it, but as long as no one notices, you secretly 736733873873873983do. To be fair there’s an absolute heap of stuff that is easy to criticize here, but what Blade does do well, it does very much so. Atmosphere is one of the hardest things to build for a horror movie, and Castillo manages to give his film a macabre, foreboding and somewhat ruthless feeling throughout. Borrowing heavily from Carpenter’s method of creating a daunting mood from the start, the continuous score – although monotonous – adds to the apprehension. There’s one scene, a dream sequence, which is so skilfully edited and competently shot that it sits quite comfortably alongside Curtains‘ ice skating murder as one of the best of the genre. Seriously, it is THAT good.

There are mountains of minutes of character development where not a lot happens and I’ll get back to that in a bit, 783873873873878733but I actually felt sympathy for one or two of the personnel and was even disappointed when a couple of them died. When you consider the fact that ninety-percent of the cast were pretty rancid dramatically, to build audience sympathy is quite an achievement. As I mentioned earlier, the killings feel a lot more mean-spirited here and I think it’s because of their cheap execution (pun intended) and lack of gore. Compared to the majority of its brethren from the same period, Blade is extremely light in the blood department, but it makes up for that in the detail of the death sequences. The victims scream and struggle for their last breath and it’s much more unsettling than a gooey 837363decapitation. So much so that the BBFC (or the film Gestapo as they were known back then) saw fit to cut out three and a half minutes of footage.

Also check out the bank heist, which seems to have been included for no other reason (in terms of plot benefit) than the director wanting to include a bank heist in his movie. It’s fast, direct and pretty mean-spirited, even though the cashier could have prevented everything by simply 87348738738738738733closing the door. It’s a very interesting way to start a standard slasher movie and I thought it just about worked.

The problems haven’t gone away over time however and the film still struggles drastically for momentum. If you want to see a ‘horror’ film, then watching bad actors go fishing and talk about ‘passing the bar’ can become very tedious very quickly and structurally the plot suffers. I have read the few comments from the cast that mention constant script re-writes and a lack of vision from the production team, which is quite apparent throughout. I find it hard to believe that there was no finished script, but hey if the cast members say so that must be the case. – Unless they’re a little bitter at not getting any 87373873873983983944money after this was released???

So Satan’s Blade is still not really worth tracking down unless you’re an obsessed enthusiast (hey, like me!). You have to question why the producer didn’t just film this on cheaper 16mm instead of 32 and invest some more cash in the production. An average genre entry that had the right ideas but struggled with the execution (yes I am using the same joke twice).

Oh and by the way – I still have *NO* idea what this has to do with Satan…?

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore √

Final Girl √√

RATING:

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Posted on January 2, 2012, in Slasher and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have bought the arrow bluray recently and i don’t why but i have a soft spot for this one, maybe i am masochist i don’t know why ! there is something about that film just make me want to love it, maybe is the location and it take place in the winter season who knows, maybe i got more tolerance for everything now just like iced that take place in the winter season or ghostkeeper or wendigo i just have a soft spot winter season movies lol, or maybe because i am from quebec, canada and we have big ass winter over here with tons of snow and cold weather once a year , why in the hell i love this movie ? bottom line don’t take my word for it lol .

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