SATAN’S SLAVE (1976) Reviews and overview

 

Satan’s Slave is a 1976 British horror film directed by Norman J. Warren (Prey; Terror; Inseminoid) from a screenplay written by David McGillivray (House of Whipcord; Schizo; House of Mortal Sin).

The film’s distinctive soundtrack was composed by jazz musician John Scott. Despite its low budget, Satan’s Slave was shot in Techniscope.

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The movie stars Michael Gough (Konga; Horrors of the Black Museum; The Corpse), Martin Potter – Goodbye Gemini, Candace Glendenning (Tower of Evil), Barbara Kellerman, Michael Craze, Gloria Walker, James Bree and Celia Hewitt.

Plot:

A young woman, Catherine Yorke (Candace Glendenning), shares a ride with her parents to visit her uncle Alexander (Michael Gough), that no one had met before. But the drive ends in tragedy when, during an accident, the parents of Catherine die charred.

 

Catherine is then hosted by the mysterious Alexander, who lives in a beautiful house with his son Stephen (Martin Potter) and the faithful Frances (Barbara Kellerman). Catherine takes a taste for life and notices that Stephen is far from being insensitive to her charms. However, Catherine is soon the victim of terrible hallucinations.

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As time passes on, Frances then informs her of what her uncle and cousin are planning to do to her. She tells them they plan to sacrifice her in order to avenge an ancient ancestor of hers named Camilla York (because the only way to resurrect the dead is through the body of a decedent) who was said to possess evil powers, she tells her that they plan to use Camilla’s powers for Alexander’s own evil…

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Reviews:

“The high production values even stretch to some particularly gruelling gore effects, and despite only really being known of amongst diehard horror fans, it stands proudly as a worthy successor to Hammer (it even has the look and feel of one of the better Hammer House of Horror TV episodes).” British Horror Films

“The film has a reasonably interesting story, attractive characters, at least one sleazy psycho guy, and plenty of nakedness and blood. Since it’s about an evil satanic cult, there’s also a few cool ritual scenes with daggers, Baphomet’s and robes, along with an attractive young blonde being offered up to the dark lord.” Melon Farmers

“As usual, Gough (and his co-starring moustache) is a joy to watch, especially when he gets to let loose in the final half-hour, and Glendenning makes for an appealing and attractive scream queen, even more or less pulling off the unlikely twist ending pretty well. Also noteworthy is the eerie score by John Scott…” Mondo Digital

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Satan’s Slave still shows some hints of the Hammer style, with the middle-class characters and rural locations, but its gritty atmosphere was more in keeping with the popular American horror films of the time, and gives the film a realistic edge that Hammer rarely achieved with their bright colours and elaborate sets.” Mondo Esoterica

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“… despite its ceremonial nudity and lashings of gore – like the sort of subject likely to turn up on Sunday afternoon children’s television, with its kid-in-trouble/blame-the-older-generation theme. Devilish cunning and Satanic mumbo-jumbo lurk beneath the genteel surfaces of the stockbroker belt, and the twisting suspense plot is well constructed and written by David McGillivray.” Michael Grossbard, BFI Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1977

Censorship:

Having been heavily censored by the BBFC to a version that ran just 82 minutes 49 seconds (the full “international” version runs 89 minutes 43 seconds), Satan’s Slave was initially released in the UK by Brent Walker distributors on a double-bill with Thriller: A Cruel Picture, a Swedish revenge exploiter, and then later with Ruby and Squirm.

In the US, the film was picked up by Crown International although the print they distributed was the censored British version. In 2004, Anchor Bay released a longer widescreen version on DVD.

In October 2019, US company Vinegar Syndrome released a Blu-ray + DVD combo. Order via Amazon.com

Special features:

Region free Blu-ray+ DVD combo
Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm camera negative
Audio commentary with director Norman J. Warren and composer John Scott
Audio commentary with film historians Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
“Creating Satan” – Making-of featurette
“All You Need is Blood” – Archival making-of featurette
“Devilish Music” – composer John Scott on his score for Satan’s Slave
“Fragment” – a short film written & directed by Norman J. Warren
Multiple theatrical trailers
Multiple deleted scenes
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles

On 12th August 2019, Indicator released a Blu-ray box-set in the UK: Bloody Terror: The Shocking Cinema of Norman J Warren, 1976-1987

New 2K restorations of all five films, approved by director Norman J Warren
Original mono audio
The BEHP Interview with Norman J Warren (2018): an archival video recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring the prolific filmmaker in conversation with Martin Sheffield
Satan’s Slave audio commentary with director Norman J Warren and screenwriter David McGillivray, and a second commentary with Warren and composer John Scott
Prey audio commentary with Norman J Warren and author Jonathan Rigby
Terror audio commentary with Norman J Warren and screenwriter David McGillivray
Inseminoid audio commentary with Norman J Warren and assistant director Gary White
Bloody New Year audio commentary with Norman J Warren and film critic Josephine Botting
All You Need Is Blood (1976): a vintage ‘making of’ documentary for Satan’s Slave, presented in High Definition for the first time
Creating Satan (2004): an archival documentary on the making of Satan’s Slave featuring interviews with Warren, David McGillivray, actor Martin Potter, and others
Devilish Music (2004): an archival interview with composer John Scott
Satan’s Slave alternative scenes
Keep on Running (2004): an archival documentary on the making of Prey featuring interviews with Warren, actor Sally Faulkner, producer Terry Marcel, and others
Prey: On Set with Norman J Warren (1977): location footage with new Norman J Warren commentary
Bloody Good Fun (2004): an archival documentary on the making of Terror featuring interviews with Warren, actors Carolyn Courage, Mary Maude, James Aubrey and Elaine Ives-Cameron, writer David McGillivray, and others
Interview with John Nolan (2019): the Terror actor recalls making the film
Terror deleted scene
Subterranean Universe (2004): an archival documentary on the making of Inseminoid featuring interviews with Warren, actors Stephanie Beacham, David Baxt and Barry Houghton, and others
Interview with Trevor Thomas (2019): a new interview with the Inseminoid actor
Inseminoid Girl (2004): an archival interview with actor Judy Geeson
Electronic Approach (2004): an archival interview with Inseminoid composer John Scott
Interview with Catherine Roman (2019): the Bloody New Year actor recalls making the film
Interview with Steve Emerson (2019): the actor and stunt coordinator discusses working on Terror and Bloody New Year
Norman J Warren: A Sort of Autobiography (2004): an archival career-encompassing interview
The Bridge (1955-57): surviving footage of an early short film directed by Warren, about a pilot on a mission to locate a bridge in Germany during World War II
The Making of ‘The Bridge’: rare and unseen behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Warren
Carol (1962): pilot tests for Warren’s unrealised feature film about teenage pregnancy and backstreet abortion, with Georgina Hale and Michael Craze
Drinkin’ Time (1963): a comic silent short directed by Warren
Turn Off Your Bloody Phone: Norman J Warren and the Ghost (2013): horror short produced for FrightFest, starring Warren, David McGillivray, and Yixi Sun
Interview with Yixi Sun (2019): an interview with the filmmaker and Warren collaborator
Trailers and TV Spots
Image galleries: promotional and publicity material
New English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Limited edition exclusive 120-page book with a new essay by Adrian Smith, archival interviews, articles and on-set reports, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits and more
Limited Edition of 6,000 copies

Soundtrack score:

In 2016, specialist label Moscovitch Music have released John Scott’s soundtrack score on both gorgeously packaged 12-inch vinyl and CD.

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Cast and characters:

Michael Gough … Uncle Alexander Yorke
Martin Potter … Stephen Yorke
Candace Glendenning … Catherine Yorke
Barbara Kellerman … Frances
Michael Craze … John
Gloria Maley … Janice (as Gloria Walker)
James Bree … Malcolm Yorke
Celia Hewitt … Elizabeth Yorke
David McGillivray David McGillivray … Priest
Robert Conway … Puritan with Whip (uncredited)
Richard Crafter … Mad Monk 2 (uncredited)
Nick Maley … Mad Monk 1 (uncredited)
Paula Patterson … Woman Disemboweled by Stephen (uncredited)
Monika Ringwald … Camilla York (uncredited)
Moira Young … Alexander’s Wife in Prologue (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Admiral’s Walk, Mill Lane, Pirbright, Surrey, England (also featured in Virgin Witch, 1970)

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating: