APRIL 20, 2008
Oh, bless you, Joe Dante. I had never even HEARD of Satan’s Skin (aka Blood on Satan’s Claw) until you added it into your festival, and honestly, if it wasn’t paired with Horror Express (yay!) I probably would have skipped it. Not a big fan of devil type horror movies, and I had never heard of anyone in the cast or crew, so I figured it would just be some dull oddity. Well it’s certainly an oddity, but it’s VERY far from dull.
The storytelling is very loose, something that was a bit strange but eventually won me over. For example, the film begins with a dude visiting his uncle to introduce him to his fiancée. The film follows the young couple for the first 15 minutes or so, and then once we have met a few other folks, they have seemingly served their purpose. The girl is never heard from again, and the guy just sort of gets phased out, to the point where the last time we see him he’s basically an extra in a scene. Later, five of the townsfolk are chasing one of the suspected cult members, a scene that comes out of nowhere. You might occasionally get a bit confused, but in the end it all more or less makes sense (at least in an interior logic sort of way – we ARE talking about a movie in which people begin growing parts of the devil on their person).
I should also point out that the film has a rather unpleasant “teen on teen” rape scene. By that point I was having a grand old time with the loony movie, but that sort of sucked the fun out of it for a while. It gets back on track, however, when the film’s actual hero suddenly realizes he has a goat leg.
The finale has some of the strangest editing I’ve ever seen. The town judge is swinging a sickle, and it suddenly freeze frames. Is it over? Nope, it cuts to the intended victims, who begin to run... and then it freeze frames. What the hell? It’s not like they are using a clever edit to hide the violence (none of them are killed), it’s just there for the hell of it. Very strange. It also contains Yvonne Paul, one of the hottest women I've ever seen, dancing nude and brandishing a knife.
Anchor Bay released this one (under the Blood on Satan’s Claw title) but only in Region 2, so it should be relatively easy to find if you're not in America. It's also been released on VHS, whatever that is. If you can watch it though, I highly recommend it – it’s like Children of the Corn meets Wicker Man, something I mean in the most positive way possible. Hopefully a stateside release will be coming along promptly. Like tomorrow.
Like I said earlier, it screened with Horror Express, a film that I really enjoyed when I watched it, despite being a god-awful transfer. Unfortunately, the print they showed wasn’t much better – it was scratched to hell, and each reel had a different color timing to it (one was too red, the next one looked right, then the next one was too yellow...). Still, a damn fine film that is also largely overlooked. Support strange 70s horror!
What say you?