Only one company would present a double feature spotlighting Satanists and incest and that's Something Weird Video! With this "Satanic Double Feature" disc, SWV unleashes two obscure features dealing with Satan in one way or another. Like several other double feature discs, one feature will leave you glad that it's been saved from obscurity, and the other will test your patience like a mother!
Founder and leader of the Church of Satan, Anton Szandor LaVey, has rarely given onscreen interviews and this makes SATANIS: THE DEVIL'S MASS that much more fascinating. Directed with an unbiased mindset by Ray Laurent, the documentary consists of . LaVey speaks in a monotone droning voice reminiscent of a TV news commentator, so hearing him discuss the church philosophy loses its appeal after a while. But members of his church provide enough strange thrills! One woman, interviewed in the nude, explains how she was raised in the desert and taught her son to masturbate when he was 12 (!!!). Another elderly Satanist discusses how she fell out of the church and how she loved becoming a witch under LaVey's tutilage. LaVey's blonde wife, Diane, is one trippy headcase and their young daughter wise beyond her years. And once you've heard the trials and tribulations of raising a full-grown lion in a suburban neighborhood, you will realize how really demented this flick really is! Other than the interviews with the Church of Satan, we are also treated to the thoughts of two Mormon geeks, a priest, a girl on the street, and the San Francisco neighbors of LaVey. All provide interesting, often humorous tales of their run-ins with the group. In-between interviews (and scary proclamations that the Satanists have cursed people and had them die soon after!), we are treated to cheesy ooga-booga Satanic rituals that seem completely improvised on the spot. For these reasons, SATANIS is an always fascinating relic worthy of preservation.
I dare you to make sense of SINTHIA THE DEVIL'S DOLL! The Devil has cursed this film!! I've seen some bad, confusing films before, but this Ray Dennis Steckler-lensed mess takes the cake! Opening with a strange hallucination involving Gary Kent and a murder, paired with druggy voice-overs, we are then introduced to Sinthia, who is seated in a psychiatrist's office after murdering her parents in the midst of coitus years earlier. Seems the murder stems from her incestuous lust for her father. SINTHIA aches to be an art film a la LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, where time is meaningless and characters need not have personalities, and this is its fault. Sinthia is captured by naked musclemen and topless go-go dancers who whip her and "make her one of us"...or do they? A scene of Sinthia being a nude model for a perverted artist segues into an independent theatrical stage show...or is it? Sinthia runs into her mom on the beach and has a lesbian sex scene with her...or does she? And apparently it's all supposed to be a hallucination induced by the psychiatrist. The one really interesting thing about the film is Al Adamson regular Gary Kent, who is always a welcome addition to any cast. If you like being confused, check out SINTHIA. It's thankfully never boring, but it's also never interesting, even in a loathsome way. And to make it even more irritating, Shula Roan ("Sinthia," and if that isn't a pseudonym, I don't know what is!) never stops screaming!!
Both films are presented in fullscreen, presumably the correct ratio. SATANIS is culled from a 16mm print, so is packed with grain and murky colors. But the fact that it only exists in an acceptable form on 16mm is a testament to how rare the feature really is. SINTHIA is from a 35mm print and looks pretty wretched. It suits the film, though, seeing a piece of shit looking like gold would have been a real slap in the face. The mono audio on both flicks is badly recorded on-set and in post-dubbing, so there isn't much to be done to improve them.
The trailers for both features aren't included, but there's plenty more Satanic madness here to enjoy! THE DEVIL'S HAND is a black-and-white voodoo flick, with a man falling in love with a witch from his dreams. There's a Satanic cult sacrificing women with a descending wheel of knives and causing car crashes with voodoo dolls! I should see this. Crown International released it, so it's in Rhino's camp now. HOUSE OF EXORCISM is the piece of shit re-edited version of Mario Bava's quintessential masterpiece LISA AND THE DEVIL. Bava's decadent atmosphere of death and beauty is ruined by inserted scenes of Robert Alda exorcising a demon from foul-mouthed Elke Sommer. Strangely enough, this trailer is hosted by a familiar Southern huckster, who I've seen in sex-book pitches and various other trailers (as producers, directors, and other horrific characters). No footage from the film is shown. MARK OF THE DEVIL PART 2 is the sequel to the infamous "Rated V for Violence!" witchcraft flick from Germany. Directed by the original's producer, Adrian Hoven, there's even more torture in this sequel! Reggie Nalder returns, even though he was murdered in the original, and is just as repulsive as ever. Look fast for Erika Blanc amidst all the torture and violence! Someone needs to release the two films together uncut on DVD! MEAT CLEAVER MASSACRE is one of many films left off Christopher Lee's resume; he looks pretty badly used up while hosting this trailer. There are great grisly paintings, the massacre of an entire family, and a supernatural revenge plot. I'm sure the film's not as good as the advertising, but this rare gem might be worth tracking down. WITCHCRAFT 70 is one of the many entries in the Mondo subgenre, with the blood sacrifice of a cat during a voodoo ritual, blood drinking rituals, coven rituals, and plenty of nastiness. It's all faked, of course. "A hippie ceremony in California" is obviously based on the Manson Family. I'll track this one down!
More devilish delirium can be found in the shorts and featurette! "British Black Mass," narrated by George Sanders, is a widescreen excerpt from ECCO, a mondo feature that needs to be released on DVD (ideally with SWEDEN: HEAVEN AND HELL as its co-feature). Witness everyday Joe's and housewives converge in a rural castle to conduct a Black Mass! It's quite reminiscent of Hammer's THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, actually, with the pentegram circle and the countryside locale. "My Tale is Hot" is an excerpt from the 1964 film of the same name, and features the Devil giving a rotund radio listener (Jack Little) a peek at the striptease act of Ms. Candy Barr. She's not very good... The man gets upset because the Devil interrupts his listening of the "Walt Disley Show"!! Jack Little was just recently on the MONDO BIZARRO/MONDO FREUDO disc and appeared in a few other nudie-cuties. "Sex Rituals of the Occult" is a much shorter 29-minute featurette version of the 82-minute 1970 feature of the same name. Narrator Vincent Stevens (THAR SHE BLOWS!) presents his "research" on witchcraft, including a group of red-robed Satanists resurrecting a nude woman in a coffin for an orgy (!). There's whipping, surprising homosexuality, a black girl with a big Afro, sex in and on top of the coffin, lots of full nudity, lesbian pairings, a voodoo ritual, another big orgy, kaleidoscopic sex photography, ad infinitum. Surprisingly, Something Weird didn't edit out the gay sex scene on a park bench!! Everything is performed on the exact same set with different dressing and lotsa fog! The full feature should make it to DVD some day. The token gallery of sex movie magazine covers is included, including one with a SHE-FREAK cover (!), all set to the BOOBY TRAP theme once again. An Easter Egg on the main menu hides a trailer for ultra-obscure SOUL LOVER! A woman makes out with an invisible man (pretty hilarious!), there's spanking, an incredible pale woman, and a psychiatrist trying to make sense of it all!
The fact that Something Weird
continues to work hard at commemorating long-lost films on DVD always keeps
them at the top of my list of DVD companies. But a better co-feature for SATANIS
might have been THE DEVIL'S GARDEN or WITCHCRAFT 70, anything but SINTHIA. The
absurdity and ridiculous nature of that film leaves a dark cloud hanging over
the disc, despite the wealth of cool extras and the bizarre factor of SATANIS.
Still worth picking up and adding to your collection, just try to forgive SWV
for letting SINTHIA out of the vault. (Casey Scott)
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