Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The opening scene of the 1977 Spanish horror classic Satan's Blood likely won't encourage those hoping for a step up from the usual sex and gore. In the first five minutes, a woman is led into a room full of black-robed devil worshippers, who strip her naked, kiss her from neck to crotch, then stab her with a long knife. But when the movie repeats a version of the scene later, it isn't so run-of-the-mill anymore. Credit an intervening hour in which co-creators Carlos Puerto and Juan Piquer Simón take full advantage of their Madrid locations and the relaxed censorship of the post-Franco era. Satan's Blood is the kind of movie where a zestful married couple (played by Ángel Aranda and Sandra Alberti) spend an afternoon sipping café au lait and going to see Star Wars before joining a couple they just met for a weekend of greased-up four-way sex on a pentagram rug.

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Satan's Blood goes slack too often, and it lacks any real satirical point, but Puerto and Simón pepper the film with memorably creepy moments and a pervasive Euro-sleaze atmosphere. It starts as a mildly weird sleepover in a creepy old house where the hosts eat raw meat out of dog bowls, and a freaky china doll sits in judgment with its dead red eyes, but it becomes a nested, Luis Buñuel-esque nightmare, as Aranda and Alberti keep trying to leave and keep ending up back inside the house with their clothes half-off. Eventually, people start turning up dead, and then the same people come back to life and have to be re-killed. Through it all, the heroes try to act relaxed and hip, even as a doctor comes to examine a corpse and gives his version of the last rites: "Take thy servant into the world of darkness." If anything sets the movie apart from routine '70s drive-in fare, it's the overwhelming sense of swingers' guilt. Aranda and Alberti are just out for kicks, but they wake up in a bloodbath and wonder "What the hell did we just do?"

Key features: An alternate opening that puts the titillation in a Biblical context, and an excellent short documentary in which Satanic priest Gavin Baddeley expounds on the history of his religion.

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