THE TOUCH OF SATAN (1971) Reviews and worth watching

  

‘A story of exorcism!’

The Touch of Satan is a 1971 horror feature film directed by Don Henderson from a screenplay by James E. McLarty. The movie stars Michael Berry, Emby Mellay, Lee Amber, Yvonne Winslow and Jeanne Gerson.

The film features early work by makeup artist Joe Blasco (Shivers).

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Plot:

A farmer is murdered by an elderly insane woman with terribly burned facial features. After stabbing the farmer and accidentally setting his barn on fire, the woman stumbles home to her family.

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The family, an older couple and a young teenage woman argue about the best way to handle the situation and make vague references that the elderly woman may have killed people in the past…

Reviews:

Harold and Maude did it better, yet the film, though turtle-slow, keeps most of its modest promises.” Robert L. Jerome, Cinefantastique magazine, Summer 1973

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“Dialogue is almost unbelievably flat and aimless. Characters pause between lines as if confused … Action scenes (two murders, a flashback to a witch-burning) seem designed to hide anything exciting. The rural setting is drab, the old farmhouse is plain … Nobody says or does anything interesting. Yet if your insomnia allows you to stay awake to the final 20 minutes, you might be surprisingly entertained by a series of plot twists.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“Henderson’s horror effort has a nice lazy seventies feel, but the relationship between the young lovers takes up a lot of screen time despite not being particularly well developed […] does save a shockingly bloody set-piece for its third act; but Henderson’s film is better at creating doubt in the viewer’s mind as to the reality of the supernatural aspect.” Eric Cotenas, DVD Drive-In

“This movie has occasional interesting visual and story touches, and it could have made for a decent thriller. Unfortunately, the script is pretty weak with several awful lines of dialogue, and the turgid pace and poor acting turn the movie into a dreary, dismal experience.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“The acting and chemistry between the leading couple is also not up to par, which is a significant focus of most of the movie. If they were a little more compelling or intriguing, the movie may have come out more watchable. As it is, the whole thing is just a chore to sit through…” Gordon Maples, Misan[trope]y

…The Touch of Satan spends as much time on its ill-fated central love story as it does on the psycho granny and her deadly gardening implements […] Instead the film takes its time and manages to pull off a handful of effective sequences including a couple of grisly kills and a truly weird ending that throws a couple of additional twists into the mix.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

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The Touch of Satan doesn’t want for a pretty solid foundation since its story is a little rote but perfectly serviceable—it’s just too bad nobody bothered to build anything worth a damn around it. If the film is exemplary in any way, it almost perfectly crystalizes the badness of 70s Z-grade junk that was made with the sole purpose of cashing in on a trend.” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

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“Sure, The Touch of Satan is a bit slow, its plot is a bit silly and has its share of holes, the effects (what there is of them) aren’t good, but I’m quite willing to ignore these sorts of problems in a film that is always at least competent, does much that is ambitious and even succeeds in its ambitions more often than not.” The Horror!?

Cast and characters:

Michael Berry … Jodie Lee Thompson
Emby Mellay … Melissa Strickland
Lee Amber … Luther Strickland
Yvonne Winslow … Molly Strickland
Jeanne Gerson … Lucinda Strickland
Robert Easton … Mr Keitel
Lew Horn … Deputy John Mason
Sharon Crabtree … Young Lucinda
John J. Fox … Attendant
Hal K. Dawson … Mr Gentry
Frank Jansen … Frank Larsen
Ellen Bailey … Sarah Strickland

Filming locations:

Shot in 1970 in Santa Ynez, California

Technical details:

90 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1
Audio: Mono

Alternate titles:

The Curse of Melissa
The Touch of Melissa
Night of the Demon (not to be confused with the 1957 or 1980 films of the same name).

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