Touch of Satan (1971)

Shot between 1968 and 1970 in the Santa Ynez, California area, Touch of Satan was a regionally released drive-in and grindhouse film that wasn’t well-known until it appeared on a 1998 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

There was a rumor that this movie was directed by Tom Laughlin, who made the Billy Jack filmns and used the pseudonym Don Henderson as the producer of The Born Losers and the editor of Like Father, Like Son. The director of this movie really as Don Henderson, who only made two other films: The Babysitter and Weekend with the Babysitter. While not actually connected, the second film is a spiritual sequel to the first. George E. Carey wrote, produced, and starred in both films — but played different characters. Yet they both share the idea of an older man having a fling with the babysitter of his children, named Candy Wilson in both movies, but played by two different actresses, Patricia Wymer and Susan Romen.

This movie begins with a farmer being repeatedly pitchforked by an elderly woman who has a burned up face. She goes scorched earth and sets his barn on fire too, while she’s at it. As she literally falls through the screen door when she gets back home, an older couple and a young woman begin arguing about how to handle things, adding that she’s done things like this in the past. Please note: this family lives on a walnut ranch.

Meanwhile, Jodie Thompson comes to town, as part of his vision quest as he decides whether or not he wants to be a lawyer like his father. He falls for Melissa, the girl we’ve just met with the insane grandmother, who is really her sister because our girl Melissa is a witch.

Cue the Mercyful Fate!
“Melissa, you were mine
Melissa, you were the light
She was a witch
Why did they take you away?”

Believe it or not, this movie takes plenty of dialogue from the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Horror at Red Hook.”

While this was originally going to be called Pitchfork, it has an amazing Italian title: L’Ossessa: i raccapriccianti delitti di Monroe Park, which translates as The Obsession: The Horrific Crimes of Monroe Park. That said — there’s no location named Monroe Park in the film. There is, however, that one amazing bit of dialogue when Melissa says, “This is where the fish lives.”

You can watch this on Amazon Prime with and without commentary from Mystery Science Theater 3000. The riffed version is also on Tubi.

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