Remake Candidate: Satan's Blood (1978) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Remake Candidate: Satan's Blood (1978) Review

Horrorific content by penguin_pete on October 22nd, 2018 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Religion, Cult, Mind Bender, Drama

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It’s about  a Spanish Eurosleeze horror that ran under the original title of Escalofrío (which means something like “chill”) and an alternate title of Don’t Panic - by people who had clearly never heard of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It demands a remake!

Satan’s Blood (1978) was directed by Carlos Puerto (who also directed La Capilla Ardiente) and stars Ángel Aranda (from Planet of the Vampires), Sandra Alberti (from Trauma) and Manuel Pereiro (from Immortal Sins).

As it stands:

Couple A, Andres and Ana, are a young urban couple out driving on the town with their dog when they get button-holed by Couple B, Bruno and Berta, who basically gaslight them by claiming that Bruno and Andres are old college chums, despite Andres’ not remembering Bruno. Couple B cajole couple A into following them home for wine and a visit, a light promise which turns out to be much more of a commitment when they find out couple B lives hours out of town at a huge, secluded mansion.

It turns out couple B has an agenda: they’re in a Satanic cult, and they want to recruit couple A badly enough that they keep them there under any available pretense while subjecting them to sick, Satanic games. For the set-up of the movie, couple B force wine on couple A while not drinking it themselves, seclude couple A’s dog, and bewilder couple A with increasingly bizarre behavior. When couple A keep trying to leave, there’s one excuse after another keeping them there: it’s getting dark, there’s a storm, the dog’s wandered off and we’d have to find him, the car won’t start, etc.

Before you get too excited, the whole movie turns out to be one big excuse to show lots of nudity and have an orgy, a playful bath scene, and two rape scenes (including girl-on-girl, in a dream sequence).

For lack of a more fitting term, once the movie “blows its load” on the big orgy and rape scenes, it completely loses interest in finishing the story, as if it were craving a cigarette. It rushes to a ridiculous, stupid, tacked-on ending.

What to keep:

That premise! The possibilities explode if you just consider one name : Luis Buñuel! Without the heavy sex focus, this plays exactly like a variant on the iconic surrealist Spanish director's most celebrated works, like The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie or The Exterminating Angel; in fact this movie shows clear inspiration from either of those.

The style and look of the movie, when it has its clothes on, is also very good. The obligatory Ouija scene is artfully shot. The mansion is full of diabolical decorations, and there’s macabre bits like a freezer that they have to chase the curious dog away from.

What to throw away:

We don’t mind a hot sex scene or two with our Satanists, but... It’s pretty much the whole point of this movie. It could spend a lot less time on the skin and more time on the horror aspects and plot.

And for a second problem, there’s a lot of threads that go nowhere. Ana is supposed to be four months’ pregnant, and then it’s never mentioned again. A past affair of Ana’s is brought up, as if to drive a wedge between her and Andres and make them more susceptible to wife-swapping, and then never touched again. There’s a creepy doll who shows up a couple times, and then it’s never explained. There’s other dark characters hanging out at the mansion, but they never get introduced. This movie feels heavily cut, or perhaps that it started out as a different story before somebody meddled.

Finally, there’s a lot of things happening that are clearly supernatural, and yet it’s never dived into. There’s just a whole lack of logic to the movie.

What to add:

Where couldn’t you go with a set-up like this? It’s clear the B couple are trying to recruit the A couple into their Satanic cult, but the movie leaves the question hanging: What is their end-game? For the opening half hour, the movie’s almost great! Couple B is sly, seductive, persuasive, scheming, giving each other knowing glances, everything you’d expect from their characters. They work as a good team. It’s funny how they play their meeting as chance coincidence and casually introduce Satanic rituals into the evening, but you know they were actually plotting this out beforehand and carefully measuring every word.

Now expand on that, and the movie gets fascinating on its own. What would you do if you were obliged to accept an invitation out of politeness, while subtly being put in increasingly compromising positions? If it were made more subtle, it would be plausible. You could give time for couple A to doubt and question their own interpretation.

You could keep some creepy aspects (maybe toss that tired doll bit though), but have it be ambiguous whether there’s really Satanic supernatural forces at play or not.

The story could work more like a reverse-home-invasion plot, where instead of intruders in your home, you’re a forced guest at another’s home who can’t leave. Imagine Rosemary’s Baby crossed with Funny Games, then mine that for all you can.

ABOUT: "Remake Candidate" is a series where AllHorror staff members inhale something happy and psychedelic and fantasize about a beautiful world. One in which, instead of spoiling a great masterpiece with a mediocre remake, we take a failed movie that didn’t live up to its potential and remake that. Which would be feasible in a world where studios would only remake movies if they can improve on the original. Imagine a studio system that cares about quality. It’s easy if you try.

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