Arts

Cult Movie: 1970s horror Satan's Slave delivers a devilish dose of exploitation

Recently excavated for Blu-ray release by Arrow Video, Satan's Slave is a supremely sleazy slice of British horror exploitation
Ralph McLean

Satan's Slave

IT MIGHT be my age, or perhaps I've always been perversely inclined towards such things, but I have to admit that I like a little 70s sleaze with my old-school British horror movies.

You know the kind of sordid little thrills I'm talking about, right? I want a little needless nudity with my on-screen Satanic rituals, lots of hairy looking blokes sweating profusely as an array of pretty girls are bumped off unceremoniously. I demand a groovy wah-wah pedal enhanced soundtrack to tap a toe to and plenty of garish fashions to startle the eye and repulse the tastebuds.

Visually, I'm very taken with the old shadowy, dimly lit B-movie experience where over-acting thespians chew the scenery and fritter away the storyline in shady pub snugs decorated with ugly flock wallpaper and shrouded in a fug of never ending stale tobacco smoke. That, dear cultured reader, is my idea of cult movie heaven.

It's certainly why I've a decidedly moist spot in my memory for the films of director Norman J Warren. Warren has made all kind of low budget flicks down the decades, but he has a particular skill for nailing the inherent sleaze of the 1970s that is all his own.

Satan's Slave, a low rent offering from 1976, is the perfect case in point.

Rarely seen on telly but recently excavated for Blu-ray release by Arrow Video, this is a supremely sleazy slice of British horror exploitation that ticks all the dirty little boxes for me.

It starts with a rowdy Satanic ritual featuring that all important gratuitous nudity before introducing us to a young guy called Stephen (Martin Potter) who is taking his young girlfriend back to the palatial family home.

The real villain of the piece though is the father, Alexander, played with scenery-crunching delight by the great Michael Gough, who would liven up any number of low budget British horror films before finding fame late in life as Batman's butler, Arthur.

Alexander appears to have his evil Satanic eye on Stephen's pretty young cousin, Catherine (Candace Glendenning), who is visiting the family in the wake of her parents' death in a mysterious car crash. Before you know it, Catherine is seeing creepy visions of weird ceremonies in which witches and lots of those aforementioned blokes are getting all sweaty.

Clearly knocked out in a hurry to cash in on that mid-70s obsession for all things Satanically evil in the aftermath of The Exorcist and all the guff that followed in its big budget wake, Satan's Slave is pure B-movie junk but hugely entertaining B-movie junk all the same.

Warren keeps the action trundling along at an admirable pace and that sleaze keeps on coming at just the right time to stop you nodding off. It will never win any prizes for originality, but who cares about things like that when the cheap thrills are as plentiful as they are here?

Cheap, tatty and a ton of good old-fashioned exploitation fun from start to finish, Satan's Slave is my kind of film.

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