Satan’s Blood: Earning its “S”

Satan’s Blood directed by Carlos PuertoSatan’s Blood directed by Carlos Puerto

Satan’s Blood directed by Carlos PuertoThe death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco in November 1975 meant not only the end of a 39-year repressive regime for the people of Spain, and the ushering in of democracy, but the dawn of a new freedom in the cinematic arts, as well. With the effective ending, in 1977, of the strict censorship laws that had hamstrung filmmakers for decades, a new looseness was engendered. Films could now be released that contained nudity, sexual themes, and violent and horrific elements … provided, of course, that the film was tagged with the “Clasificada S” label, that “S,” of course, standing for “sex.” Released in 1978, Escalofrio (which opened in the U.S. with the title Satan’s Blood) was one of the first pictures out of the gate to take advantage of the new freedoms.

In the film, the viewer makes the acquaintance of two couples. Couple A, Andres and Ana (a lawyer with his four-months-pregnant wife, and played by Angel Aranda and Sandra Alberti), are taking a joyride through the streets of what I can only assume is Madrid (the city looks just beautiful, wherever it is) when they are approached at a traffic light by a couple in another car. Couple B (Bruno and Berta, played by Jose Maria Guillen and Mariana Karr) invites Andres and Ana over to their place, Bruno claiming to be an old college buddy of Andres’, although the young lawyer has no recollection of him. Whereas most sensible couples might politely decline the offer, Andres and Ana follow Couple B to their house in the middle of nowhere. And what follows, after drinks and a go at the ol’ Ouija board, is a weekend of escalating madness, featuring as it does attempted rape, a Satanic Mass, a four-way orgy, suicide attempts, canine and human homicide, the resurrection of the dead, nightmares, a decapitation, a hit-and-run incident … and a particularly creepy walking doll…

Anyway, Satan’s Blood ultimately makes very little sense, but for once, this viewer did not particularly care. It’s the ride that matters here, and it is a thrill ride that grows progressively wilder and crazier as the picture proceeds, finally coming off like a full-blown nightmare. In the film’s funniest moment, Andres declares, “What a fun weekend … we should have stayed home!” Practically begging for its “S” label, the film dishes out not only that oil-anointed four-way orgy, but full-frontal nudity on the part of the gals (but not the guys; I suppose THAT would have been too much for even the “S” rating!), a playful tub scene between Andres and Ana, and, in a prologue that bears little if any relation to the rest of the picture, the rape of a young woman by the officiating priest at a Black Mass. Shootings, stabbings, wrist slittings and other bits of mayhem surely sufficed to earn the film an “S” on their own, and the filmmakers have thrown in numerous instances of assorted weirdness (such as those bowls of meat around the house!) to make matters feel even more off-kilter.

Directed with an eye toward maximum freakiness by Carlos Puerto, and featuring some genuinely scary (and yet at times lovely) music by Librado Pastor, the picture is one that will certainly be remembered. Spanish audiences back in the day must surely have been amazed by the sex and carnage unreeling on their neighborhood screens, and were no doubt shocked by the image of a framed picture of Jesus Christ catching fire and exploding. Filmgoers today, however, might be a bit more shocked at the sight of the pregnant Ana drinking coffee and liquor and smoking not only cigarettes, but cigars as well … AND, supposedly, after having lost her first baby! Just one more bit of strangeness, in a movie filled with so many.

Further good news regarding Satan’s Blood is the fact that it is now available in a beautiful print, with excellent subtitles, on a DVD from the always dependable folks at Mondo Macabro. (What an amazing roster of titles this outfit has built up over the years!) As usual, this Mondo Macabro DVD is just jam packed with extras, including a highly informative essay on the film, stills, an alternate opening, the superfun M.M. trailer reel … AND a 30-minute lecture on the history of 20th century Satanism by noted authority Gavin Baddeley. The editors of the wonderful reference book DVD Delirium 3 are so correct when they say, in regard to the film and the DVD package itself, “Moody, shocking, and wonderfully constructed, this one’s a definite keeper”…


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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2 comments

  1. Hmmm….pretty sure this one is NOT for me. Excellent review though, Sandy.

    • Sandy Ferber /

      Yes, it’s surely NOT for all tastes, Marion. And as always, thanks for the kind words….

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