• Satan’s Blood (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: March 2nd, 2021.
    Director: Carlos Puerto
    Cast: Mariana Karr, José María Guillén, Ángel Aranda, Sandra Alberti
    Year: 1978
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    Satan’s Blood – Movie Review:

    Andy (Angel Aranda of Mario Bava's Planet Of The Vampires) and his slightly pregnant pretty young wife Anna (the lovely Sandra Alberti) seem like a nice, normal couple who just want to get out of the city and take a week's vacation but can't quite figure out what to do with their time. The grab their German shepherd, Blackie, toss him in the car, and drive around Madrid in hopes of clearing their collective head and just enjoying some time together.

    Things are going just fine for the couple until a car pulls up beside them. The window of the cars rolls down and a man named Bruno and his wife Thelma call Andy over, explaining that Bruno went to school with him years back. Andy can't quite place Bruno but he and his lovely lady friend are always up for making new friends and so when Bruno invites them back to his place to reminisce and guzzle back some fine red wine. They follow their new found old friends to a remote estate out in the country and head inside to make the most of the afternoon.

    When they arrive in the home, Bruno wastes no time digging out an old picture of he and Andy at school together, but it doesn't stir any memories for Andy, as he can't remember the uniform, his fellow students, or even the teacher. To make matters even more odd for the guy, his correct mailing address is written on the back of the photograph! Soon, Bruno decides that they should all bust out the Ouija board and communicate with whatever spirits happen to be hanging around. He and his wife have a strong interest in the occult and they often do things like this for kicks it would seem. Andy and Anna are game, but soon things turn sour when the board tells Bruno he will die soon and by his own hand, and reminds Anna of her immoral love affair with her husband's brother a few years ago. Tensions rise accordingly.

    With the evening rather spoiled by the events that have transpired, the two lovebirds decide to head out for the night but as luck would have it, a nasty storm blows in and makes driving tricky. The hosts insist that their guests spend the night with them, and they agree but that night things get even stranger. Blackie the dog goes missing, Anne is assaulted in the middle of the night when she goes looking for him, and what's with that really creepy doll that the camera keeps closing in on? Something evil is amuck, and it wants Andy and Anne as its own.

    Plenty of atmosphere and no small amount of kinky evil hijinks make this one a completely worthwhile endeavor. It starts off fairly slow (at least, after the opening flashback salvo) and builds over time and as such, it might lose some viewers looking for fast and cheap thrills but those who stick with the film are ultimately rewarded by an eerie and chilling little movie that, when it does get around to delivering the goods, really works quite well.

    While the whole shebang starts off very much in the vein of Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby,, eventually it finds its own footing and branches out into similar but more individual territory. That being said, a few obvious nods to Polanski's film are easy to spot, from the creepy old neighbors to some of the cutaway scenes. In terms of the performances, there's not a lot to write home about here - none of the key players are either all that great or particularly bad and everything is decidedly average on that front but director Carlos Puerto (with a little bit of help from Juan Piquer Simon, the genius behind Pieces and Slugs!) manages to build suspense through some clever foreshadowing and gorgeous cinematography. The fact that the entire story unfolds in a creepy, albeit beautiful and ornate, period home in the countryside adds to the whole mysterious vibe that permeates the movie, and Simon, who served as director of photography on the film, does do a truly fantastic job of capturing the shadows and gothic styled architecture of the location to maximum effect.

    Of course, it wouldn't be a proper venture into the devil's territory without oodles of sex and violence, right? Right! While Satan's Blood isn't exactly a gore-fest it does offer up a healthy serving of grue in the final act and once Andy and his bride are firmly under the spell of their hosts it doesn't take long before everyone is writhing around in their birthday suits atop a gigantic pentagram, just to make sure you don't think that they're holding a Bible study or something equally wholesome.

    Satan’s Blood – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Satan’s Blood to region free Blu-ray “newly scanned and restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative framed” at 1.66.1 widescreen. Taking up 253.9GBs of space on the 50 GB disc, the picture quality here is very strong. Detail easily surpasses the different DVD releases that the film has received over the years, and depth and texture are noticeably improved as well. Colors are handled nicely and always look lifelike and natural while skin tones also look really good here, never too pink. There are no snags with any compression artifacts or edge enhancement issues nor are there any problems with any noise reduction.

    Includes both the English and Spanish language soundtracks in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono and in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with English SDH subtitles provided for both tracks. Audio quality is fine, there are no issues here. Levels are balanced well regardless of which option you choose for the feature, and hiss and distortion are never really problems here.

    Extras start off with a commentary track with film historians and authors Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger who are clearly quite enthusiastic to talk about this picture. They start by the warning that opens the film and its connections to mondo movies and early sex films that tried to pass themselves off as a documentary before then going on to cover Juan Piquer Simon's involvement in the movie, where Spain was at socially who are clearly quite enthusiastic to talk about this picture. They start by the warning that opens the film and its connections to mondo movies and early sex films that tried to pass themselves off as a documentary before then going on to cover Juan Piquer Simon's involvement in the movie, where Spain was at socially and politically during the time that the movie was made, Spanish censorship laws and their effect on genre cinema, the advertising campaign that was used to promote the film when first released, how the film sort of went under the radar of a lot of genre critics and how the film should be better known than it is, the importance of the statue that we see in the film around the eight-minute mark, how and why Spanish-made horror films rarely take place in Spain and the quality of the production values in the movie. They also talk about how the film compares to Larraz's Black Candles, how Spanish genre cinema tends to get buried beneath the quantity of Italian genre cinema when it comes to home video releases, the quality of Pastore's score, the use of dream logic in the film and how certain elements of the are simply not explained to the audience and the real intensity of the film in the last five-minutes where the picture 'almost becomes like Rosemary's Baby.' It’s a good commentary that does a nice job of peeling back the layers and looking not just at the history of the movie but at the state of Spanish genre films during the period it was made and what makes them unique.

    From there, get down with Satan's Blood: Recuerdos de Escalofrío, a forty-seven-minute Spanish documentary on the making of Satan's Blood that includes interviews with writer/director Carlos Puerto, actress Sandra Alberti, and editor Pedro del Rey. In this piece we learn about how and why Satan exists in the first place (these are clips from the movie itself, but it’s amusing the way they’re worked in here). There's discussion here of Satanic cults and the like and then we get into the nitty-gritty of what all was involved with making this movie. We learn about how the different cast members came on board to work on the project, how the different crew members came to work on the picture, how a lot of people were led to believe that they were working on a mystery film rather than a horror picture, working with Juan Simon Piquer, securing the locations for the film and what it was like on set and how the interviewees felt about the movie after seeing the finished product. There's also talk here of budgetary issues that came up during the shoot, changes that were made to the script, the prolific nudity in the film and the use of doubles, having to pad the film to get it to the proper length, cashing in on the popularity of occult-related films at the time, the sound work used on the film, how the film was received at its Spanish premiere and lots more. This piece is great! Very well put together and just seriously interesting from start to finish. There’s some neat behind the scenes photos used here as well.

    Outside of that we get a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Vinegar Syndrome also packages this release with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Satan’s Blood - The Final Word:

    Satan’s Blood holds up very well, a creepy and sleazy slice of occult horror cinema with some memorable set pieces and some slick direction. Vinegar Syndrome has done a very nice job bringing the picture to Blu-ray. The presentation is excellent and the extras are all interesting and worth diving into. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Satan’s Blood Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Smart to add the Samm and Kat commentary. Now i have to double-dip. This is a fun flick.