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Satan's Baby Doll
Directed by Alan W. Cools (Mario Bianchi).
Cast: Jaqueline Dupre, Mariangela Giordano, Marina Hedman, Aldo Sanbrell, Joe Davers, Giancarlo Del Duca, Alfonso Gaita.
In a new interview on Severin's DVD of "Satan's Baby Doll," director Mario Bianchi praises one of his stars, Mariangela Giordano, but says, "The other actors were just fine, nothing special." That faint praise is on the mark and could go for the entire movie. The 25-year-old horror quickie manages to make ghostly possession, nude corpses and nun sex about as edgy as an installment of "Regis and Kelly."
Pretty but lifeless blonde teen Miria (Jaqueline Dupre, in understandably her first and last screen performance) hears the voice of her beautiful, recently deceased mother, Maria (Marina Hedman), commanding her to do bad things. Like killing the rest of the family and staff who made her life in their hilltop castle so unbearable that she had to off herself. Tops on Mom's shit list is husband Antonio (Aldo Sanbrell), who mistreats his mute paraplegic brother and lusts after Sol, the live-in nun. (Doesn't every modern castle owner have one?) Antonio's nun love, however, is somewhat forgivable given that Sol (the hot indeed Mariangela Giordano) tends to strip down to her sexy white nylons and masturbate while leaving her bedroom door open. Antonio is also in the killing game and targets the family doctor (whom he always suspected of having it off with Maria) and, after she spurns him, Sol.
Bianchi and his cinematographer do create decent scare-flick atmosphere, thanks largely to the dank castle setting. But this is discount schlock, underwritten, underproduced and lacking in fresh ideas. The movie cost about $50,000 to make, and watching it, you think, "That much?" Good nudity, though.
This 1982 non-giallo grindhouser has probably never looked so good. The 16:9 widescreen image is clean and crisp, with the supple flesh tones, dark blue night skies and skillfully lit castle interiors all reflecting Italy's fine cinematographic tradition. The mono soundtrack (enhanced by Dolby Digital) reflects Italy's not so fine tradition of post-dubbing everything, even native films, and thus giving everything that hollow, canned sound. (There are English subtitles.)
The main menu offers the basics: Play Feature, Chapter Selections (there are 16) and Special Features. The bonuses are a fairly incoherent trailer and an 18-minute interview with director Mario Bianchi (who on this film used the hilariously clueless "Anglo" moniker Alan W. Cools). Bianchi, who got his start in spaghetti Westerns and has worked in every genre (including porn), comes across as an uncomplaining, undiscriminating worker. "I've always been hired by producers who just had a big flop because I was good at stopping the bleeding," he says drolly. The "Satan's Baby Doll" budget, he says, "was so small that it was impossible to lose money on the film." Perhaps, but shouldn't a movie strive to do something more than not lose money?
The DVD box cover, by the way, has a lurid painting of a studly winged devil embracing a naked girl; there's no such creature or image -- or passion -- in the movie.
There is definitely a U.S. video audience for early-'80s Italian horror -- the sort of stuff that sneaked into (pre-Giuliani) 42nd Street theaters with little or no advertising. And those fans of sleazoid fare -- and of the subgenre of nun sex -- will want to check out "Satan's Baby Doll." But even they will admit that this flimsy tale of a young girl's possession by her sexy dead mother barely makes it alive to the end of its brief running time.