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Mondo Macabro presents
Satan's Blood (Escalofrío) (1977)

"When? When is it going to end?"
- Andres (Jose Maria Guillen)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: February 22, 2006

Stars: Angel Aranda, Sandra Alberti, Marian Karr, Jose Maria Guillen
Other Stars: Manuel Pereira, Luis Barboo
Director: Carlos Puerto

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sensuality, rape, violence, gore, cruelty to animals, drug use, suicide)
Run Time: 01h:21m:49s
Release Date: February 28, 2006
UPC: 843276012397
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBB B

DVD Review

During the Francisco Franco regime, Spanish filmmaking suffered from a substantial amount of repression. After Franco remained dead, the cinema significantly opened up, and a new "S" rating was devised for the genre of pictures with a heavy element of sex and/or sadism. Both are reflected in this early "S" picture, which uses both to be shocking and also to convey a memorable piece of nightmarish horror.

Expectant young couple Andres (Jose Maria Guillen) and Ana (Marian Karr) are on holiday with their dog Blackie, when they meet another couple, Bruno (Angel Aranda) and Berta (Mary in the English dub, played by Sandra Alberti). Bruno and Berta seem to know them intimately, but Ana and Andres don't remember them at all. Nonetheless, the youngsters agree to join them at their secluded home. It soon becomes clear that their hosts are devil worshippers, but Ana and Andres feel strangely compelled to join in their orgiastic revels. When it comes time to leave, their car and dog vanish, and things begin to take a seriously sinister turn.

The picture starts off as fairly routine sexploitation, using the devil worship angle mostly as a gimmick to get the leads to strip down. A few unsettling events, such as a creepy frolic with a Ouija board and Berta's habit of eating raw meat like a dog set the stage for the last half hour. That segment is an ever-spiraling succession of waking nightmares that have a vaguely connected dream logic but that also include patently impossible occurrences. It would have been tempting to play these as tongue in cheek, but the film deadpans its way through these sequences, using pedestrian angles to make the surreal seem perfectly natural. The culmination comes with an ambulatory doll reminiscent of the one in the first season of Night Gallery, with a taste for human blood.

While many films of the 1970s have tried to capture this waking nightmare atmosphere, few have done so as successfully as this picture. The seemingly random settings of the film successfully work with it to give the sense of a nightmare without any end in sight. Within the same scene, the time seems to change from day to night at random, giving the sense that the hero and heroine are trapped outside the normal timestream in a world from which there is no escape. When added to the strangenesses of the plot (the dead vanishing and returning to life seemingly at random, nightmarish visions, brutal attacks that come out of nowhere and the dog, heard howling and crying but seldom seen), the result is highly evocative and pushes the film above the standard sexploitation shocker.

The cast is rather unremarkable, though Sandra Alberti gets some good moments where she seems utterly nuts and smoothly transforms into normality. The film includes an optional opening sequence with a stuffy lecture on demonology, used in certain markets, that laughably purports to give some redeeming social value to the picture.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture generally looks quite good. There are some typical bits of dirt and speckling at reel changes, but overall the source print is in quite acceptable condition. Color is reasonably good (for Eastmancolor), though skin tones occasionally waver between purple and greenish. Details and texture are excellent and there's no evidence of artificial sharpening. Quite pleasing.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Mono 1.0 audio tracks are provided in both Spanish and English. The Spanish track is a little cleaner than the English one, but they both have moderate (though not distracting) hiss. The score is a little on the tinny side but the dialogue is quite clear. The transfer seems to get what could be gotten from the source print, and that's about all one can reasonably ask.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:50m:22s

Extra Extras:
  1. Alternate opening scene
  2. Still galleries
Extras Review: In addition to the alternate opening sequence referenced above (which can be viewed separately or as part of the feature), there's a fascinating documentary on Satanism, The Devil's Disciples (24m:05s), apparently made specially for this DVD. Illustrated with clips from this and other films released by Mondo Macabro, the documentary features Gavin Baddeley, a reverend of the Church of Satan, who wittily dissects the cult and provides background on such devil-worshipping notables and popularizers as Dennis Wheatley, Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey. He also discusses its cultural impact through rock music and also briefly touches on the devil in film, resulting in a unique piece of background. Pete Tombs contributes some knowledgeable background notes, and a set of galleries covers nearly 50 stills, videos and pieces of poster art. It's a solid package of added value, even if some of it is tangential to the feature.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A surprisingly effective little Spanish shocker, with plenty of nudity and weirdness. Some intriguing extras and a very good transfer make this well worth checking out.

 


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