Satan’s Blade from L. Scott Castillo Jr. has always carried a certain amount of intrigue and interest among horror fans. Likely due to its rarity rather than its quality, this is nonetheless a film sought after by many slasher film completists out there; if only due to the wearily formulaic nature of the narrative that establishes this as one of the weaker attempted cash-ins that litter the early 1980s. Friday The 13th, this isn’t!
There is, however, an interesting opening to Satan’s Blade. Initially ignoring the obvious, Castillo Jr.’s film starts out more like a heist movie than a slasher one, but quickly and disappointingly abandons this approach after just a few minutes to return to the boobs and blood the “auteur” clearly had at the top of his agenda.
For anyone who has viewed just one or two slasher films, everything is frustratingly familiar. There is an isolated mountain lodge, a group of horny, often scantily clad young women, and a mystery killer you never really see apart from a few murky shadows and the obligatory close up on the murder weapon of choice. There is no pattern to the deaths, no thought given to establishing a coherent narrative that would have given the film some much needed rhythm. What remains instead is a dull, incoherent mess of a film that fails to generate even the semblance of a titter as the women are systematically murdered in wholly uninteresting ways.
All that said, there is some faint fun to be found – just not as the filmmakers intended. The acting is so woefully awkward and clunky that we suspect none of the named cast ever worked again, or had ever worked before. If there was more than one draft of the script, and we suspect there wasn’t, little care or time went into the dialogue. What becomes clear is that these elements were never Castillo Jr.’s priority. On an interview included on the Blu-ray, he intimates he had a few crazy ideas in his head and fancied a crack at a horror film. We suspect the thought process went: Blood? Check. Nudity? Check. Plot? Well, let’s not worry about that.
Given that the filmmaker had a battle just to get the film made, and an even tougher one to get it distributed, it is perhaps a surprise that Satan’s Blade exists at all - if nothing else, this is a release of some historical merit. As a film it is poor example of the genre, but if you are that completist, or simply feel the inexplicable need to watch a bad slasher film, then Satan’s Blade could be for you.
Special Features: Audio commentary by podcast The Hysteria Continues / Interview with L. Scott Castillo Jr. / Collectors’ booklet
SATAN’S BLADE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: L. SCOTT CASTILLO JR. / SCREENPLAY: THOMAS CUE / STARRING: TOM BONGIORNO, STEPHANIE LEIGH STEEL, THOMAS CUE, ELISA R. MALINOVITZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW