Film review: Satan’s Blade
David Paul Hellings · Jul 6th, 2016 · 0 Comment
Review by David Paul Hellings
“One of the lesser known entries in the annals of the ’80s slasher film, Satan’s Blade is an eerie slice of US regional terror ripe for rediscovery by horror fans.
Arriving at a snow-capped mountain resort, a group of youngsters are met by the news that a double murder has taken place there the previous night. Despite this grisly revelation, they decide to stay on, unaware of the knife-wielding figure stalking the wintry landscape… Could the local legend about a vengeful mountain man have some truth to it?
Shot in Big Bear, California in 1980 but not released until 1984, L. Scott Castillo, Jr.’s Satan’s Blade succeeds in establishing a thoroughly creepy atmosphere – helped in no small part by a freakish nightmare sequence that’s sure to inspire more than a few sleepless nights”.
– via Arrow Video
First time Director L. Scott Castillo Jnr. Turned down friend Patrick McIntosh’s offer to finance a horror film twice before finally saying yes. McIntosh had come into an inheritance and was “burning” through the money anyway, he told Castillo. So, McIntosh gave his friend $50,000 and they were off and running.
Made in 1980 on this shoestring budget, “Satan’s Blade” wasn’t premiered until 1982, and then only in a very limited way, thus missing the chance to really take advantage of the boom in sales in the video market, then slipping into relative obscurity, Castillo failing to see any financial rewards and moving into a career in real estate.
The acting has been consistently described as ‘amateurish’ and that’s probably the most accurate description, although determined and committed would be kinder seeing as the cast were mostly inexperienced. Castillo’s lack of previous film directing does show through, saved repeatedly by cinematographer Terry Kempf, but despite all that, “Satan’s Blade” miraculously ends up being a film with many striking and refreshing ideas, surprising the audience on a number of occasions. Just when you think you’re watching a run of the mill, microbudget slasher, something fresh comes along and you see why the film has picked up a cult following along the way.
It’s no surprise, however, that the film’s initial sales were to Europe, with LA distributors turning it down and killing its home possibilities; 80% of sales tended to go to Europe and the growing video market. The happy days of low budget, video nasties filling the shelves would have been perfect for Castillo’s effort if things had been different.
“Satan’s Blade is an engaging and entertaining low budget slasher that will appeal to fans of the genre. The print is in very good condition with this new restoration, with only some mild white flecks on the lower left of the initial section of the film (five minutes) or so, but nothing that will effect the viewing. Well worth a watch and adding to your collection.
Director- Approved Special Features:
• Brand new 2K restoration of the film presented in both 1.85:1 and 4:3 (1.33:1) versions
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
• Interview with writer-director L. Scott Castillo, Jr.
• Remembering Satan’s Blade – Castillo narrates a look at various items of Satan’s Blade memorabilia
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Ryan Tobin
• Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Brian Albright, author of Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990