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 highjinks 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 Piquar 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.
The anamorphic transfer on this disc is a good one. Yeah, there's a bit of minor print damage throughout in the form of some specks here and there and some color fading in some spots but generally clarity is strong as is detail. Black levels fare well and there are no problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or shimmering. Skin tones look nice and natural and overall the movie looks very nice.
There are two audio options on the disc, an English language Dolby Digital Mono track and a Spanish mono track but there are no subtitles provided. Generally clarity is pretty good here, the dialogue is easy to understand and the levels are properly balanced. Sometimes things sound a little bit flat, but for an older mono track, there's nothing to complain about here.
Supplements are slim for this release. As it's part of the Katarina's Nightmare Theater line from Scorpion, you can play the movie with or without the optional intro/outro from the wrestler turned horror hostess, but aside from that, all that's here is a still gallery and trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing titles. Menus and chapter stops are also included. The disc comes with reversible cover art, so you can display it with or without the Katarina banner across the top.
Satan's Blood may not be the be all, end all of Spanish horror but it's plenty enjoyable, especially if you dig occult themed horror films. Equal parts sleaze and slick style, it moves at a good pace and offers up some fun thrills along the way and Scorpion's DVD, if light on extras, looks and sounds good. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.