Satan’s Blade (1985)

Yeah, I know Satan’s Blade was shot on 35mm, but this “SOV Week” is all about the brick and mortar nostalgia of the video store ’80s. So, if it walks like an SOV and quacks like an SOV and has a cheesy, Combat-cum-Scrapnel Records-styled cover — film stocks, be damned — it’s an SOV in my analog-pumpin’ heart.

Yeah, Satan’s Blade is rife with that ol’ brick and mortar, mom n’ pop stores nostalgia that I constantly lament about at B&S About Movies . . . so I don’t care if Satan’s Blade is an ultra-low-budget rip on the first two Friday the 13th films, as say some critics. Me? I see The Evil Dead crossed with a crime caper gone bad, in the frames.

You too, huh? We’re both thinking of, even though it wasn’t made yet, Scarecrows (1988). As I said in that review, as I re-watched Scarecrows all those years later, I couldn’t help but think Quintin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez watched it back in the day — and it bled into their formulating From Dusk Till Dawn, which flips-its-script from an action caper to a vampire flick. Well, I think Q n’ R are fans of Satan’s Blade, too, with its script-flip from a crime caper to a faux-Jason armed with a haunted blade, gone wild.

Look, all I know is that my youth was filled with King Diamond, Slayer, and Saxon albums — and pretty much anything came down the Combat/Shrapnel pipeline. Those were the days that the soundtrack — with some much-needed, added adjustments — of River’s Edge spun in my car. And I had just bought copies of the new albums by Hallows Eve and Heathen. And I rented the crap out of any and all SOV horrors that I could get my hands on and I just rented a copy of L. Scott Castillo Jr.’s lone film.

Yeah, Satan’s Blade is that nasty tapeworm lodged in the cockles of my analog heart, pumpin’ through my celluloid veins like a vinyl selection from the Metal Blade Records catalog: forever.

Load the friggin’ tape!

Ah, the VHS I remember. It feels like — a clamshell box — home.

A pair of female bank robbers make off with $50,000 after they kill two bank tellers in cold blood (a female Seth and Richie Gecko, natch). They lay low at a snowy mountain cabin, waiting for their third partner to split the spoils. But, as is the case in any noir: greed ensues. And double crosses. And everyone ends up dead. Two by their own hands. The third . . . by an unseen force.

Something is in that cabin . . . of the “Jason, Jason, Jason, kill, kill, kill,” variety.

That “something” is a local legend about a murderous mountain man who comes from the bottom of the lake by the cabin.

Doh!

Cue the dopey vacationers who rented the cabin at the wrong time: two married couples celebrating the law school graduation of one of them — and a group of nubile college girls with a friend mourning the death of her father. Of course, sex — which always stirs these heavy mental, shiny-implement lovers — ensues, with the proceedings getting down to the ol’ “final girl,” Stephanie — who comes to discover the town Sheriff is behind the murders, as he wanted the money from the robbery hidden in the cabin.

Is the Sheriff really possessed by the Satan’s Blade — a knife that is also a talisman?

Look, I love this movie. I don’t care of how “derivative” the plot is critically analyzed by the other.

Satan’s Blade is an up-against-an-ultra-low-budget slasher, which — for moi — only enhances its eerie vibes, and I dig that the music is synth-Carpenter cheesy. Sure, the story is slight, so there’s a bit much in the expositional prattling-padding department, with lots of driving and walking (but not as much driving as in Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, thank god). Sure, this Castillo jam isn’t as gory as a Vim Wink shot-on-video joint or off its GBH nut, but then, what SOVs are?

At least the acting is better than in most SOVs, not that everyone is on-point; there’s some woefully strained thespin’ afoot. I also dig the amped-up film noir of it all, filled with whodunits, double-crossings, and red-herring flip-floppin’ twists. In addition, L. Scott Castillo Jr. — apparently made this for one-million dollars — who was probably hoping to strike Raimi Midnight Movie gold, ain’t exactly Raimi-inventive, but he still knows his way around a 35mm camera. So while — in my eyes — Satan’s Blade has that ol’ SOV stank on it, technically, it’s not an SOV; but it’s surely closer to, but better than, a 16mm Don Dohler (Fiend) joint (which I lump into my SOV-dom with Satan’s Blade).

Yeah, I love this movie.

Double featuring Satan’s Blade with a Doug Ulrich and Al Dargo’s joint (Snuff Kill will get you started) just feels right. Toss down a John Howard and Justin Simonds (Spine) chaser, for a triple. . . .

Ugh. Satan’s Blade also makes me feel old; now I am missing my ol’ video stores with their 5-5-5 membership cards. So I hate you, Castillo. But I love yahs, just the same.

And so it goes. . . .

Courtesy of the ongoing efforts of VHS Legacy — doing the Lord’s work (yuk, yuk) — you can watch Satan’s Blade on You Tube. You can also learn more about the Arrow Video reissue — an incredible transfer, by the way (working in 35mm paid off, L. Scott) — with an “Arrow Story” video uploaded to You Tube. The reissue caveats on Satan’s Blade, run at the different times of 79, 82, and 83 minutes, so shop accordingly. Olive Films released their hard presses in the United States in 2015 on Blu-ray, while Arrow Films released their DVD/Blue combo in the United Kingdom in 2016.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

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