First off, I just want to say how happy I am to be nuzzling up against the pulsating bosom that is Euro-sleaze. It's been too long. Don't get me wrong, I like other genres, too. It's just that I feel most at ease when the film flickering in front of me has a distinct Euro-sleaze sheen to it. And Carlos Puerto's Satan's Blood (a.k.a. "Escalofrio" and "Don't Panic") is definitely sleazy. Sure, it's not as sleazy as, say, The Mad Foxes, or even as sleazy as Juan Piquer Simón's Pieces. But as far as Spanish films about suave Satanists go, it's like a finely knitted sweater. Comfy and warm, the film... Wait. Why did I just compare this film to a freakin' sweater?!? Oh, yeah, that's right, the luminous Mariana Karr wears a sweet-ass sweater throughout this movie. In fact, it was Mariana's sweater that beckoned me to watch this film in the first place. The DVD put out by Mondo Macabro has four images on the back designed to pique my interest (or I should say, piquer my interest - Juan Piquer Simón is uncredited as the film's co-director). Anyway, the images included a severed head in a freezer, a skull, a woman being choked and a woman in a beige, brown and white turtleneck sweater. While I'm a big fan of severed heads, skulls and strangulation, I must confess, I'm an even bigger fan of sweaters with high necks. Of course, the question on everyone's mind is: Did Mariana Karr's turtleneck sweater manage to live up to the hype? What do you think? This review wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Mariana Karr's turtleneck sweater. Actually, I'm sure I could have focused on something else if Mariana Karr's sweater had been a let down. (Something else?!? You mean like, Sandra Alberti's strappy heels/white nylons?) Exactly.
Unfortunately, and this might sound a tad off-kilter, but the sheer amount of nudity in this film, some Satan-based, some bathing-based, put severe limits on the amount of time Mariana Karr appeared in her turtleneck sweater. Luckily for us, Annie (Mariana Karr) and her husband Andy (José María Guillén) didn't pack a suitcase when they decided spend the night at the creepy house that belongs to a couple of kinky Satanists.
Though, to be fair to Annie and Andy, they didn't know beforehand that they were going to spend the night. And they certainly didn't know that they were Satanist. Speaking as a non-practicing Satanist, spotting Satanists isn't as easy as it sounds.
Okay, fine. But Annie should have realized that something sinister was afoot when she noticed that glossy book on Satanism sitting on their bookshelf. In her defense, however, it was the 1970s. In other words, if you didn't have at least one book in your house on Satanism, you were looked at with suspicion. Seriously, Satanism and all things occult were seen as cool back in the 1970s.
On the other hand, eating your food like a dog has never been cool. And that's exactly what Annie catches one of her hosts doing at one point. A normal person would have politely excused themselves after witnessing this canine display and ran for the exit when the opportunity was right. But since it's the... (Yeah, yeah, it's the 1970s. People put up with all sorts of weird ass nonsense back then.) Either way, no such opportunity arises, and Annie and Andy, and, I suppose their dog, Blackie, are stuck there.
Stuck where, you ask? Well, Anna (who is four months pregnant) and Andy decide to spend the day cruising around the city, Madrid, I think. While driving home, Bruno (Ángel Aranda) and Mary (Sandra Alberti), the people in the car next to them, seem to think that they know them. It turns out that Bruno went to school with Andy. Even though Andy doesn't remember him, he agrees to go over to his house for drinks.
Truth be told, Annie and Andy had plenty of opportunities to flee. I guess you can't underestimate the power of Satan! I'm just kidding. I have no idea why they didn't leave. I mean, the Satanism book, the sight of Mary eating food (human organs) out of a dog bowl, not to mention, the spooky-looking doll in the living room, everything about this place practically screams psychosexual torment. Yeah, but it also screams ritualistic psychosexual satisfaction, and maybe, just maybe, Annie and Andy are proponents of Satanic orgies. After all, it's the... (Let me guess, the 1970s?) Bingo.
Quirky fun-fact: At least seventy percent of children born in Europe and the hipper parts of North America during the 1970s were conceived at Satanic orgies.
Personally, I would have turned around the moment I found out that the gate at Bruno and Mary's house made a creaking sound every time you opened and closed it. But then again, if they had turned around, we wouldn't have gotten to watch Annie, Andy, Bruno and Mary have crazy naked sex together on a black blanket with a pentagram on it.
At the end of the day, the question every Spaniard must ask themselves is this: Do you want to continue living an uneventful life in your matchbox-sized Madrid apartment, or do you want to embrace the dizzying world of clothing optional Satanism? Luckily for us, Annie and Andy choose the latter. Well, they don't exactly choose the latter. The Satanism lifestyle is more or less thrust upon them. Nevertheless, Annie and Andy end up partaking in a Ouija board session (or, I should say, Ouija table session - now that's a nice Ouija table), which leads to playful bathing, rough lesbianism and the mother of all creepy doll attacks.
The three things I just mentioned, by the way, are three of the main instances where Annie is seen without her trademark turtleneck sweater. It's a good thing Mariana Karr is so darned attractive (nudity looks good on her), or else I would have thrown a massive hissy-fit every time she took off her sweater.
If I had to point out a flaw, it would have to be the handling of Sandra Alberti's white nylons/strappy heals. Never shot in a manner that I found satisfying, the way they (the filmmakers) seemed to go out of their way to not give us any close-up shots of her white nylons/strappy heals was frustrating. That being said, I did appreciate her overall look (on top of wearing white nylons and strappy heals, Mary wears a chic red coat - with a matching purse - and a chunky necklace), and I found her cannibalistic dining habits to be wonderfully dog-like. I know, cannibals rarely ever use a knife and fork. But still, I liked the way she went to town on those tasty organs (which, I assume, used to belong to the guy in the freezer).
Anyway, despite the lack of leggy friendly camera angles, and the fact the film features way too much nudity for my liking, Satan's Blood is a definite must-see for fans of well-made Euro-sleaze. Boasting a foreboding atmosphere from start to finish (the ritualistic murder/groping that opens the film is first-rate softcore porn and the twist ending is pure gold) and a swirling organ score, the film harkens back to a time when horror and eroticism were paired together quite often. And I miss those days. Oh, and I'm just kidding about there being "too much nudity." Only a real square would say something like that, and I'm no square.