Monday, 26 September 2016
Writer: Carlos Puerto
Producer: Juan Piquer Simon
Cast: Mariana Karr, Jose Maria Guillen, Sandra Alberti
Year of release: 1978
Reviewed from: UK DVD (Redemption)
The latest release from Redemption is this 1970s Spanish offering which is one of those Dennis Wheatley-esque, middle-class Satanism films where the orgies look about as interesting and inviting as the dinner parties.
Young professionals Ana (Argentinean soap actress Mariana Karr making one of her very few big screen appearances) and Andres (Jose Maria Guillen, who was in a 1964 Spanish TV version of The Canterville Ghost) are out for a drive round Madrid with their Alsatian Blackie when they meet Bruno (Angel Aranda: Planet of the Vampires) and his wife Berta (Sandra Alberti, who has a face like a man). Bruno is adamant that he went to school with Andres but Andres doesn’t remember him and their memories of the school seem to differ.
Nevertheless, A&A accept an offer to go to B&B’s place for dinner and drinks, although this turns out to be a very large house, behind a high wall, in the middle of nowhere over an hour’s drive from the city. Further claims of shared schooldays between the two men continue to seem flawed but the visitors don’t want to be rude to their hosts. They are persuaded to join in a Ouija board session which reveals that Ana may still have the hots for Andres’ brother Juan and that Bruno will die by suicide.
There are some interesting ideas but they’re never developed and nothing is ever explained. Things perk up briefly about ten minutes from the end when the whole house becomes embroiled in supernatural strangeness but the film swiftly falls flat when it descends into illogical, inconsistent, inexplicable, gratuitous weirdness, before juddering to a halt with a ‘twist’ that we have been expecting since the film started. (I forgot to mention the pointless pre-credit sequence in which a woman is ceremonially raped on an altar by a beardy bloke.) I know it’s meant to be like a nightmare but it’s also meant to be a conspiracy and in respect of the latter it just doesn’t add up.
There have been some good Spanish horror films and some bad ones. This is not as unwatchable as much of Jess Franco’s oeuvre but it’s not nearly as enjoyable as a Paul Naschy monsterfest. The direction is competent but that’s all. There’s not much actual horror - it’s all one long build-up which doesn’t really know what to do when it reaches the pay-off. And far, far too much of it is unexplained or inexplicable or both.
Writer-director Carlos Puerto’s best known credit, apart from this, is scripting the 1976 Journey to the Centre of the Earth starring Kenneth More. The director of that film, which shares numerous cast and crew with this one, was Juan Piquer Simon. Executive producer on this picture, his other credits include Supersonic Man, Extraterrestrial Visitors and Pieces.
The Loreley’s Grasp, Night of the Werewolf and the aforementioned Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Redemption’s usual lucky dip of extras includes ten stills, presented almost full-frame, and two unrelated trailers: an un-narrated English one for Requiem for a Vampire (also on the Night of the Bloody Apes disc) and a deliriously awful one for British sex-comedy Au Pair Girls, one of Val Guest’s less noteworthy efforts (I doubt if Gabrielle Drake puts it prominently on her CV either). “They’re here to help us - and Gawd help us!” intones the voice-over, which also points out guest appearances by John Le Mesurier and Rosalie Crutchley. To be honest, this one trailer is more entertaining than the whole of Satan’s Blood. There are also sampler tracks from 15 albums released on Redemption’s two music labels, some of which are unlistenable and most of which have titles and artist names so clicheed that one wonders whether they’re a spoof. The only one I was able to suffer for more than ten seconds was ‘Webcam Girl’ by the Courtesans which sounds like the Primitives or the Darling Buds. [Just realised, many years later - that's Eileen Daly's band! - MS]
(The film’s original title, Escalofrio, was also the Spanish title for both the Bill Paxton-directed horror-thriller Frailty and Larry Fessenden’s snowbound monster flick Wendigo.)
MJS rating: C+
Review originally posted 17th June 2007