Satan’s Slave (1976) [31 Days of British Horror Review]

Hot on the heels of his “31 Days of Hammer” in January and the “31 Days of British Horror” in March , Jules is at it again in May, treating us to the continuation of his chronological run through the classic era of British Horror, from the late ’50s to the end of the ’70s, with one review every day for the entire month.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of British Horror” by CLICKING HERE.

Starring: Michael Gough, Martin Potter, Candace Glendenning, Barbara Kellerman
Director: Norman J Warren

By 1976, Satanism and devil worship was starting to feel a little played out, but there was still some last drops of blood to be squeezed from its worn-out corpse.

After earning his stripes as a maker of Sexploitation films and bawdy comedies, Frank J. Warren made his first foray into horror with Satan’s Slave, but it was too little and most definitely too late to cash in on the Satanic craze. Of course, it didn’t help matters that it wasn’t very good either.

Catherine Yorke (Candace Glendenning) is travelling to stay with her uncle Alexander (Michael Gough) with her parents when a minor accident in their car as they arrive mysteriously results in an explosion, seemingly leaving her the only survivor.

Staying on with her uncle, his son Stephen (Martin Potter) and their secretary Frances (Barbara Kellerman), Catherine begins experiencing disturbing visions and dreams of young women being branded, whipped and ultimately sacrificed in Satanic rituals.

Despite her jealousy of her rival for Stephen’s love, Frances reveals to Catherine that she is the descendant of Camilla Yorke, a powerful occultist who possessed supernatural abilities. Worse, Alexander intends to sacrifice her to resurrect Camilla, something he’s tried once before with his own wife…

Hmmm. When a film opens with an fairly graphic attempted rape before the victim gets her head pulverised in a door, you think you’re in for a certain level of trashy horror, but Satan’s Slave isn’t sure what it wants to be.

At times it’s going for more of a psychological horror vibe, all brooding and intense with Candace Glendenning giving a good account of herself as the tortured trauma victim doubting her own sanity. It’s never long before it throws itself wholeheartedly into full on exploitation mode again though, with long scenes of female abuse or sacrifice, with Warren’s well-practiced eye for flesh slowly caressing the naked, full frontal female form in censor-baiting close up.

After impressing in Tower Of Evil, Glendenning does well with the slim pickings she has here and it’s a real shame she never really became the horror queen she had the potential for. Certainly starring in mediocre fare like this probably didn’t help much either, to be fair.

Michael Gough is a safe pair of hands as the supposedly kindly uncle with a thing for sacrificing women to dark gods, while Martin Potter is much harder to take to when he’s being normal, what with that rape and head squashing at the start. It’s a weird creative decision as it takes any doubt away that there’s something very wrong going on and just leaves you waiting to see how it all plays out. To be honest, you’d expect more from screenwriter David McGillivray after his excellent work with Pete Walker, but maybe when it comes to horror, he’s one of those writers who needed a hand on the tiller…

Satan’s Slave is one of those films that comes well after other, better films of the same ilk. It’s not very original, it’s got nothing new to say and it’s just there to make up the numbers, because it’s as average as average gets.

Rating: 2.5/5.

JULESAVThe Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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