• Satanist, The

    Released by: Garagehouse Pictures
    Released on: October 31st, 2016.
    Director: Spencer Crilly (as Zoltan G. Spencer)
    Cast: Pat Barrington
    Year: 1968
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    The Movie:

    When Spencer Crilly’s The Satanist begins, a couple are making out in a convertible. As they go at it, a woman clad in dark clothing appears behind them. The woman in the car kills her boy toy, exits the vehicle and then walks off into the darkness with the other woman. The title card then appears – THE SATANIST – with some odd sitar music playing behind it and some smoke wafting up from the bottom of the screen. Some text on the screen tells us that what we’re about to see is based on actual witchcraft practices.

    From there, a man in glasses with a hefty moustache addresses the audience, he tells us that what we’re about to see may indeed be the product of ‘an incurably sick mind!’ He’ll serve as our narrator throughout the movie but he’s also a character in the film – we learn that he and his wife have moved out to a new spot in hopes that he’ll be able to relax and recover from his breakdown. We see him driving his car, his pretty wife in the passenger seat. They hit a woman riding a bike and stop to address the issue. Lucky for them, or maybe not, this woman is just fine. In fact, this woman, Shandra, doesn’t even seem particularly upset by any of this and rather than call the cops she instead invites them to her home, it turns out she’s their neighbor. Our couple accepts the invitation and once they arrive, she encourages them to check out a book on witchcraft.

    From here, things get odd. The husband spies in on the sexy neighbor getting an oil rub from an equally sexy friend – who then turns into a man - and later has an erotic dream about her. Of course, then the couple is invited over that night. They arrive to find that things are not going to go the way that they expected – the wife is clearly attracted to the neighbor to a certain extent and the rest of the guests as this shindig are wearing hooded robes. After their hostess does a sexy topless dance, the man is tied up and then powerless to stop these people from using his wife in their Satanic ritual…

    Shot in glorious black and white and made just a few years before more permissive censorship laws would allow for the theatrical showing of hardcore features, it would seem that this one played here and there for a few years only to vanish. There’s too much sex and nudity in it for it to have had TV showings and the film never had a VHS or DVD release. Now that it’s available again (and in gorgeous shape, no less!), this is one that fans of similar films made by Michael Findlay, Doris Wishman and Joe Sarno should definitely appreciate. The cinematography is quite moody, lots of shadowy atmosphere here, and the film is set to a great, eclectic soundtrack made up of varied selections of slow jazz, Middle Eastern inspired music and other strange bits that really go a long way towards making this as cool as it is.

    The plot isn’t deep or particularly intense but it does a perfectly fine job of stringing together the various sex scenes that make up most of the film’s running time. The film also benefits from a strong cast. There are no credits for the performers here but Pat Barrington of Mondo Topless, Orgy Of The Dead and quite a few other sixties era sexploitation pictures plays the wife. The girls featured in the movie are all quite attractive, which is obviously never a bad thing. As to the Satanic aspect of the picture, we get a look at the rather arcane book, we get a ritual where the witchy neighbor lays down a circle of salt in her backyard wearing nothing but a black cloak, and then, of course, there’s the final ritual highlighted by the scene in which a man in a Baphomet mask ravishes the wife atop an altar with a statue depicting old scratch himself hanging in the background! At sixty-one minutes in length this one doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. It’s well paced for what it is and really nicely shot.

    Someone should release the soundtrack for this…


    The Satanist arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new 4k scan of the only known surviving 35mm elements. Framed in its original 1.37.1 aspect ratio, it’s hard to find much to complain about here at all. The picture is in very good shape, showing very little print damage at all, just a nice, natural amount of film grain. Contrast looks good and black levels are nice and solid here. There are no problems with any obvious mpeg compression artifacts nor are there any problems with any obvious digital noise reduction or edge enhancement. Detail is quite impressive throughout, as is texture, and this is just a really solid, film-like transfer in every way you’d hope for.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track. The film’s narration is clean and clear and easy to understand. The jazzy score sounds fantastic, lots of audible layers to the music here, and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. The levels are nicely balanced throughout and all in all, it sounds just fine. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here.

    Chris Poggiali and Ashley West provide a commentary track over The Satanist that starts off by discussing how the movie was found in a stash of 35mm films in 2013 by Garagehouse Picture’s Harry Guerro who reached out to Poggiali about the film. It was acquired and then shown theatrically in 2014 and now it exists on its very first ever home video release. From there they talk about Spencer Crilly’s life and times, how he worked as a magician as a teenager before working as a travelogue filmmaker and then eventually getting into exploitation pictures as a way to fund his documentary projects. From there they talk about the film’s theatrical history, make some comparisons to Joe Sarno’s output from the same period, the involvement of producer Bob Cresse (there are some interesting stories about him here, including a tale about a time when he tried to stop a crime only to get shot), and about Pat Barrington and her history. There are some interesting stories here about Barrington’s life, her work as a dancer and her involvement with Melvin Rees – who would turn out to be a serial killer! They also talk about her involvement with Samuel Fuller, her appearance in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and of course her work with Harry Novak, Ed Wood and Russ Meyer.

    Additionally, Garagehouse Pictures have included a bonus feature film on the disc in the form of Sisters In Leather, also directed by Spencer Crilly and once again starring Pat Barrington. Released in 1969, the movie follows a guy named Joe (Dick Osmun) who gets involved with a pretty blonde teenager named Dolly (Karen Thomas). When the movie begins, they’re parked… making out. A woman dressed in black approaches them and pulls out a knife and a picture – it seems Dolly is underage and Joe is married, which means one thing: blackmail!

    Joe heads home to his hot wife, Mary (Kathy Williams), but presumably from the stress of his recent encounter he just can’t get it up. Joe’s a pig though, so when Dolly calls he can’t help but meet her again. That same woman shows up and whacks him over the head, the girls run off with the ransom money that they’ve milked out of Joe (‘two thousand dollars was just about all I had left in the bank’). The next day, he decides he’s going to track these girls down and figure out just what it is they’re really all about. He knows from the other woman’s outfit that she’s got a thing for motorcycles so he hits up the local biker bar (where Barrington does a great strip tease dance) – but while he’s out doing this, the girls are showing off that photo to poor Mary. From here, the girls convince Mary to go on a picnic with them, which then turns into a nudie photo shoot and then a naked motorcycle riding party!

    When things get too close to full on lesbianism for Mary’s liking she decides to split with the photo. She goes home and leaves the picture out where she knows Joe will see it, and then decides, hey, maybe lesbianism isn’t so bad after all. Before you know it, she and Dolly and the other biker chick are guzzling champagne on a pull out couch wearing nothing but their birthday suits and only too happy to rub up on each other. Joe’s tracked Mary down, however, and he watches all of this like the pervert that he is. After that, Joe convinces a bunch of bikers he met at the bar that some ‘dykes’ have stolen their identity and it all ends with a glorious topless knife fight!

    Not quite as atmospheric as the first film, this is still a lot of good, sleazy fun. The movie is well paced and its sixty-three minutes breeze by. Lots of skin on display in this one, pretty much all of the girls get naked, and it’s all set to a wonky slow jazz soundtrack. The biker element is underplayed and there isn’t really very much in the way of leather clad ladies here, just the one biker chick, but the knife fight at the end and the bizarre twists that this takes along the way ensure that it’s pretty entertaining stuff. Barrington’s ridiculously long tabletop striptease is worth the price of admission alone and the narration, all from Joe’s point of view, is frequently unintentionally hilarious.

    The transfer on this one is on par with the feature and taken from a 4k scan of the original camera negative and it’s obviously a huge step up from the Something Weird Video VHS (and later DVD-R which used the same transfer) release from years back. The audio is handled by a DTS-HD mono track in English and it sounds just fine, but again, no subtitles. It is worth noting that the audio for the first two and a half minutes of the movie is missing, so in its place Garagehouse has used music from elsewhere in the film and added subtitles for the missing dialogue.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for The Satanist, bonus trailers for Ninja Busters, Trailer Trauma and Trailer Trauma 2, menus and chapter selection. On the reverse side of the cover sleeve are some liner notes from Poggiali that talk about lost films and Cresse’s output.

    The Final Word:

    Garagehouse Picture’s Blu-ray release of The Satanist (with Sisters In Leather) is pretty great stuff. The movie is a blast, sure to appease anyone with a taste for late sixties black and white sleaze, and the extras – highlighted by an interesting commentary track and the second feature film – add a lot of value to the set. The presentation is also top notch. All in all, a great release!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      You've convinced me. thanks
    1. izgoblin's Avatar
      izgoblin -
      The restoration team should take this review, in particular the comment "The picture is in very good shape, showing very little print damage at all", as a real compliment. I've seen portions of the raw scan of the only surviving print, and folks would be pretty impressed at how much work they put into restoring this little film.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      It looked great! I had a lot of fun with this, glad Garagehouse was able to rescue it and treat it as well as they did.
    1. Mark C.'s Avatar
      Mark C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by izgoblin View Post
      The restoration team should take this review, in particular the comment "The picture is in very good shape, showing very little print damage at all", as a real compliment. I've seen portions of the raw scan of the only surviving print, and folks would be pretty impressed at how much work they put into restoring this little film.
      Wow that sounds great, I love it when these type of obscure films are lovingly restored.