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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Redeemer: Son of Satan
Redeemer: Son of Satan
Code Red // R // October 19, 2010
List Price: $16.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 28, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Directed by Constantine S. Gochis and released in 1978, The Redeemer: Son Of Satan gets off to a fairly iconic start when a strange boy rises out of a lake sporting a second thumb on his hand. He wanders into a church where a minister (T.G. Finkbinder ) is delivering a fire and brimstone sermon meant to scare the sin out of his congregation. From here we move on to a group of old high school friends eager to celebrate and get reacquainted with one another at their class reunion. Made up of John (Damien Knight), Cindy (Jeanette Arnette), Terry (Nick Carter), Jane (Nikki Barthen), Roger (Michael Hollingsworth), and Kirsten (Gyr Patterson), they gather at the small, old school they attended years ago and then we realize that they're all guilty of many of the sins that the preacher was ranting against in the opening scenes. Whether it's love of money, homosexuality, lust or just plain selfishness there's no doubt in our mind that our crazed man of the cloth would find fault with each and every one of these old friends.

So with that established, it probably won't surprise anyone watching this movie when our reunioners start getting picked off one by one - but what might surprise you is how it happens and, more unusually, what the 'Redeemer' is wearing when he does it. Our killer changes costumes frequently and even brings a creepy puppet into the mix to help him out on one particular kill - but regardless, the rest of the story basically follows the characters as they try to figure out who is killing them and why... before it launches off into one of the weirdest and trippiest endings you're going to see in any other horror film any time soon.

Chock full of disjointed plotting and bizarre storytelling, it's best not to try and assign any sort of socio-political agenda to the movie and just accept it for what it is, and that's a strange horror film made on a modest budget with some pretty memorable kill scenes and a surprising amount of atmosphere. The murder set pieces in the film may not score top marks for gore or bloodshed but they still pack a bit of a punch thanks to the fact that they're fairly visceral and more than a little bit harsh even by the standards of the genre. On top of that, there's some good camerawork here, which helps things out quite a bit and which helps to build a bit of solid atmosphere which, thankfully, is never harmed by the movie's low budget.

As far as the performances go, no one here really stands out except for Mr. Finkbinder (the coolest last name ever?) as the titular Redeemer. He's got a fire in his belly and it shows, as he delivers his sermons early on in the film with serious gusto, coming close to overdoing it at times, sure, but never to the detriment of the picture and only in keeping with his character's religious zealousness. The class reunion goers are all fairly disposable (though it's fun to see some recognizable faces from various TV shows pop up in the cast) but efficient enough and if they don't necessarily leave a lasting impression, they all do fine in their respective roles.

Ultimately, despite the fact that it's basically a stalk and slash, The Redeemer has enough going for it in terms of creativity and unpredictability that horror fans should find a lot to like about the movie. It's not a perfect film and there are moments that work better than others, but overall there's plenty of entertainment value here and even a couple of creepy thrills.

The DVD:

NOTE: The following review is based on a test disc that may or may not represent final, finished, retail product.

Video:

The Redeemer arrives on DVD from Code Red in a 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks pretty good for an older, low budget production shot in the seventies. There are definitely some spots where the color reproduction appears a bit off and faded but this has probably got more to do with the elements than the transfer, which appears to be well encoded. Black levels aren't always that strong and sometimes shadow detail gets lost in the murkiness, but the transfer, unfortunately interlaced for some reason, is watchable enough. Keep your expectations in check going into this one and you won't mind the print damage that pops up from time to time or the expected amount of heavy grain that's noticeable throughout.

Sound:

Aside from some occasional background hiss, the English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack on the disc is fine. The levels are generally well balanced and you won't have any problems understanding the performers. The score sounds good, as do the effects and while the track does show its age in spots, for the most part there aren't any issues here, it all sounds fine. No alternate language tracks or subtitles are provided.

Extras:

Extras are slim on this release, limited to a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Code Red DVD properties. Menus and chapter stops are also included.

Final Thoughts:

The Redeemer: Son Of Satan isn't Code Red's finest hour, in terms of presentation, but it's certainly better than the so called 'public domain' versions that have made the rounds and if it's rough around the edges, at least it's perfectly watchable. As to the movie itself, it's a head scratchingly bizarre film but not one devoid of screwy cult appeal and as such it comes recommended to fans of oddball horror movies and psychotronic cinema.

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.

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