I was intrigued about this one after seeing it pop up recently on a certain auction site due to a US release. I did recognise the rather good original cover art but don’t remember this 1982 film (released in 84) in the UK video rental shops. Perhaps I simply had not delved to the very depths of the bargain bin as that is surely where this slasher would have ended up but apparently it did put in an appearance via Mogul Video a subdivision of CBS Fox back in 1984. There is obviously a reason that Arrow decided to resurrect it for a new generation and an older one who should know better but wanted to view it again. Even if you have a cult knowledge of films such as this from the golden age don’t go beating yourself up too much if L. Scott Castillo Jr. is a name you are not familiar with. Along with nearly everyone in the cast it was his only foray into the movie making world. At the time with the rise of the mom and pop video store and the popularity of films such as Friday The 13th and The Burning it was an opportunity that many seized upon in the hope of making a quick buck. Castillo Jr obviously had some like-minded friends who were keen to get involved and hacked up in front of the camera. Evidently he also had a friend who could play the piano, which he does annoyingly throughout most of the film’s running time. At least that takes care of the soundtrack!
After a particularly vicious bank robbery where two cashiers are brutally and unnecessarily dispatched the robbers hole up in a cabin in a mountainous and snow-capped back of beyond location (shot in Big Bear California). Already genre boxes are ticked enthusiastically and as far as location is concerned this is a good one. The nasty outlaws get their just deserts and are quick to shuffle off this mortal coil, is there a madman on the loose? You betcha and as a group of five girls and two couples turn up to book in for a weekend of fishing, skiing, drinking and hopefully fornication the old crone at the booking desk can’t contain herself unveiling details of a gruesome local legend. Apparently a hermit who used to live around these parts was pushed up into the hills due to developers taking over the region. He vowed revenge on those trespassing and is armed with a cursed knife eager to repeat the carnage, which until the events of the previous night last occurred 14 years ago. No worries the cops are on the case and are going to watch over them whilst munching on tuna fish and sprout (!?) sandwiches so our thrill-seekers are not scared off.
The things they all booked in for take place in various degrees; consummation of Jack Daniels appears to have been done for real although that may well be the dreadful acting. There’s squabbles, flirting, jealousy and the normal film padding before, guess what? Yep mountain man is on the hunt and the blood really starts to flow. Without giving away complex ending’s or anything (yep I’m joking) that’s pretty much what we have here, your very average, tried and tested, made on the hoof, formulaic slasher. In its defence, well I’m still trying to figure that one out. Perhaps picking up Stephen Thrower’s invaluable ‘Nightmare USA’ may plead for this one’s case, but nope there’s not a mention of it to be found. Perhaps he is waiting for part 2 of the book and speaking of which the movie ends with a starling line suggesting that the vengeance may continue (ulp); thankfully 32 years down the line that has not occurred yet. OK to be fair Satan’s Blade is far from the biggest turkey you will ever have seen and it does everything that one would expect from a film of its kind. The blood may not be convincing but the exuberance is there as is quite a bit of nudity so you wouldn’t feel too bad paying your pound and renting it out as a teenager in the 80’s. Besides you were well aware you could give it back the next day. Apart from some speckles and blemishes on some scenes (which only add to it) the restoration work means that this blade is far from dull and sound is clear and loud (I swear I would have shot the pianist given half the chance) so this is definitely the best you will ever have the chance of seeing the film. Time to head to the extras and see what those involved have to tell us about it all?
We get an interview by a DJ with the director who sporting a Gothy black cowboy hat tells us about the trials and tribulations of making an indie film at the time. He informs that he did interview the cast from actors for the parts and acknowledges they were not the best, saying that this was generally the case with horror films. Still this does not account for lack of other parts for them all according to the IMDB. He describes it as a ‘typical tacky horror film” and there’s no real disagreement there. Apparently after time spent in film distribution and real estate he is back in the business and has a movie in pre-production. We’ll take that as a warning. A bit more of a detailed second featurette sees a lady called Pam who basically just sits there and listens while the director talks about some of the memorabilia from the film. This includes the actual 35m film itself which was used for the restoration, some videos, posters and a knife (but not the accursed blade) used in the film. From what he says and considering what he made it would appear that it is the cheapness of the slasher genre and the ease of making compared to other types of films that really drew him into doing Satan’s Blade in the first place. You couldn’t exactly call him a fan, more an opportunist, well that’s certainly the impression I got. Apparently the film he now has in the can is a similarly themed one and he states it is possibly coming out in 2015, obviously something that has not happened. There is also talk of a Satan’s Blade 2 and a lot of waffle that pretty much pads things out as the director has already shown he is more than capable of doing in his film. If you are looking for a “long-winded” and one sided chat in how not to make a low budget film (one where people in the company even run off to Argentina with his money) this is it. I wonder if Pam is going to star in his next feature, she seems a natural. In case you have not read between the lines, Satan’s Blade is hardly an essential entry in the slasher movie genre and one that if it had not been surprisingly resurrected for DVD / Blu release would have no doubt sunk to the bottom of that lake in Big Bear California. It’s up to you to ultimately decide whether that would have been for the best or not though