JANUARY 26, 2010
When I was back in Massachusetts for Christmas, I picked up a new set from Mill Creek called "Gorehouse Greats", which was 12 films for 5 bucks (as opposed to the usual 50 films for 20 bucks). I was attracted to it mainly because the films all seemed to be from the 60s and 70s (unlike the primarily 30s/40s junk on the Horror Classics and Tales of Terror sets), which would make it more like the Chilling Classics, a set I have long since exhausted for HMAD purposes. So imagine my delight when I cracked the set open, put in Satan's Slave, and was treated to a pretty good anamorphic transfer! Most of the transfers on their previous sets weren't even worth the average 40 cent price per movie, so this was a very welcome surprise.
Another surprise - the movie was pretty good! I was happy to see that it was directed by Norman J. Warren, who was responsible for Alien Prey, which is one of the best "I never would have seen this if I wasn't doing HMAD" movies I've seen in quite some time. Slave isn't quite as successful, but it's still a fairly engaging, atmospheric British chiller with whopping doses of nudity.
Seriously, in the first 10 minutes we are treated to not one, not two, but THREE pairs of breasts. Shit, I've seen pornos that didn't even offer that much skin variety in their opening moments. Now, I'm not exactly a "WOOO!!! BOOBS!!" type of guy, but I AM a "WOOO! THIS MOVIE HAS NO SHAME!" type of guy, so it set the tone nicely, and I actually began to wonder if I should save my first viewing of the film for the New Beverly, where I could, well, yell "WOOO!! BOOBS!!" along with several dozen other drunks, instead of watching it by myself at work (luckily, my office-mate was gone for the day. Would have been a lot of minimizing going on).
Unfortunately, the plot has to get in the way, so after that the movie calms down some, and spreads out its "visuals" a bit more evenly. Ten minutes of talk, and then another nude scene. Another few minutes of talk, and then a guy plummets to his death (and the dummy they use was apparently made out of cake, so what should be a "oh man, so fake!" turned into a "Mmmm, I think I want to eat that guy's arm."). Other highlights include a woman being (seemingly willingly) penetrated by a wooden cross during a cult ritual, cousins going at it without anyone else (including his dad/her uncle) being concerned, someone impaled on a door 4 years before Friday the 13th came along, and a downer ending. And more nudity here and there, of course.
I was also impressed with the quality of the FX. Apart from cake man, most of them still hold up favorably to the prosthetics work of today. An eye gouging during the climax is mighty impressive, and the assorted other gags (such as a pretty graphic "branding with hot iron" flashback scene) are pretty good as well. It's weird, I was trying to think of FX work that equaled it for the US, and all of the movies that came to mind are from 1980 or later. I think the UK deserves more credit for ushering in the splatter craze.
The only downside to the movie, apart from some occasional draggy parts (again, the inadvertent result of having such a delightfully "action packed" opening - maybe this movie inspired Legion) is that it reminded me of The House of Usher update from a couple years back. Like that film, a lot of Slave is just a girl in a mansion, trying to figure out why her house-mates are so creepy while also falling in love with one. Both films have a lot of scenes where someone should be questioning their situation instead of making doe-eyes at their male relative, and the structure is nearly identical. I wouldn't be surprised if Usher's creators had seen this film and drew some influence from it, though if that is indeed the case, they should have swiped less of the structure and more of the cross-fucking. Of course, either way, the similarities are no fault of Slave's, but rather just another reason why I should watch movies in order, even if they seemingly have no relation. I could have enjoyed Slave even more had I not been occasionally distracted by memories of watching that piece of crap.
At any rate, for a movie that cost me about 50 cents, the transfer and the film itself were quite the bargain. One other movie as good as this on the set and it will be the best DVD investment I've made in years (since 2006, when I picked up the Chilling Classics set, in fact). All hail Mill Creek!
What say you?