Satan's Blood (1977) aka Escalofrío is an interesting, low budget shocker more so because it was one of the first Spanish produced films to feature gratuitous scenes of nekkidness, something not heard of in Spanish cinema due to the strict censorship laws imposed on the film industry, which changed dramatically after the death of General Franco in 1975 (up until the 1970s it was more acceptable to have gallons of gore than it was a nekkid female form in a movie). Produced and co-directed by Juan Piquer Simón (Monster Island, Pieces, The Pod People), the film features a relatively small cast including Ángel Aranda (Planet of the Vampires), Sandra Alberti (What's a Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?), Mariana Karr, and José María Guillén.
The film begins with a black mass ritual, one featuring a group of men, clad in dark robes, carrying a young woman into a room and placing her on an alter before an older man. The older man proceeds to get all hands on with the woman, stripping her clothes off and rubbing his grubby mitts all over her supple, young form...while the rest of the men watch...lovely...cut to the credits...after the credits we meet a young couple named Anna and Andy, who live in the city. The couple are trying to decide what to do on their Saturday, settling on taking the dog for a walk, which segue ways into a doofy montage filled with all sorts of activity (even including a trip to the cinema, which just happens to be showing the original Star Wars, according to the marquee). Anyway, while returning home, the couple runs into another couple, named Bruno and Mary, and Bruno claims to have gone to school with Andy. Andy doesn't seem to recall, but the couple convinces Andy and Anna to return with them to their home for a drink. Turns out Bruno and Mary live in a creepy country estate way out in the boonies, furnished with odd accoutrements including black candles in the candelabras (a sure sign of evil). The foursome make with the chit chat until Mary breaks out the Ouija board, setting up for some creepy channeling. After the weirdness, Anna and Andy get talked into staying the night, as it's very late, and so the fun begins...their dog disappears, Anna gets attacked by a mysterious hobo lurking about the estate, and both Anna and Andy fall under the enchantment of the of the powers of Mary resulting in all four engaging in a session of oily group canoodling in the confines of a large, chalk pentagram in front of the fireplace. Night passes and Anna and Andy wake with no recollection of the events the night before (except perhaps for a slight soreness in some rather personal areas). They decide it's time to hit the bricks, but trouble with the car puts the kibosh on this plan (gee, it was working fine yesterday). The presence of evil intensifies, a few deaths occur, Andy flips out, and the house seems to have a mind of its own and plans for the young couple (and their dog).
I did enjoy this uncut, European version of the film, but that not to say it didn't have some serious flaws, the main one being the fact the story had a real lack of direction. It felt like there was a loose outline to the plot (the opening black mass sequence seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the story other than its occult aspects), while most of it made up as the filmmakers went along. The story ends on a really strong note, making me wonder if perhaps this was what the rest of the film was built upon. One bit I found really annoying was the inclusion of the information early on that Anna was pregnant. Given the set up, I thought this would play heavily into the story, sort of a `Rosemary's Baby' type of scenario, but it never panned out. Why waste time bringing it up if you aren't going to exploit it? Because it allowed for the filmmakers to eat up some screen time...and that's what a lot of the story felt like...extended sequences whose only purpose was to pad out the running time (the whole Ouija/séance bit runs a solid seven minutes which is the equivalent of thirty minutes in real time). And what was up with the hobo, looking like an early French explorer in his knit hat, lurking around the estate, peeping through windows and such? Oh, he gets his comeuppance, to be sure...the funniest sequence in the film was when he attacked Anna as she wandered the house in the middle of the night, and she escapes his lustful advances with a knee to the gonsaticles (that's not to say I found the attack funny, but you have to see the bit afterwards, when he's walking away holding his aching jewels). I think while watching this movie I was supposed to develop a sense of sympathy for Anna and Andy, as their naiveté leads them into danger... naiveté...more like stupidity. A couple living in an isolate manor out in the country may not set off any warning bells, but what about all the black candles, the Ouija table, the extensive library on the occult, the large, chalk pentagram drawn on the floor in front of the fireplace? I don't care if the car doesn't start, or the telephones out of order...I'm hoofing it to the nearest town rather than stay in the devil house. Perhaps the most idiotic bit happened when Andy and Anna, watching from an upstairs window, spied Bruno fiddling under the hood of their car, and then react all surprised later on when their car doesn't start. All right, I've picked on the movie pretty well...so what did I like? Well, in terms of sleaze the film certainly didn't disappoint. All four main characters doff their clothes more than once, supplying us with copious amounts of all natural female full frontal, male bumcake, and even a few, brief sausage shots (the last two I could have done without, but whatever). Also the movie has a great deal of weirdness (check out the bits when Mary speaks in a tongue not her own and Mary and Bruno are `feeding'), followed by a great, twist type ending (I dug on the conspiracy angle), one that I sort of saw coming (it was telegraphed early on), but it was extremely fun nonetheless.
Mondo Macabro presents a strong, good-looking, anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1) picture on this DVD, along with a very solid Dolby Digital stereo audio track. Also provided is a choice between an English dubbed track, Spanish with English subtitles, and a Spanish only track. As far as extras, there's a bit of text written by Pete Tombs providing history for the film, placing into context of when it was originally released, a still gallery, an alternative opening sequence (one which tries to justify the amount of sleaze in the film), a featurette titled `The Devil's Disciples' featuring Gavin Baddeley, one of the world's foremost authorities on the occult, discussing Satanism in the 20th century, and a lengthy Mondo Macabro preview montage. Normally I'd probably rate this a three and a half star film, but given the obvious efforts by Mondo Macabro in terms of the DVD release, I have no problem given a four star rating overall.