The Film (3/5)
Satan's Blade opens with a pair of masked thieves robbing a bank and killing two bank tellers. The thieves hide out at a mountain ski resort and while awaiting a third member of the crew to rendezvous, they themselves are killed. The locals attribute this to a legend of the spirit of a mountain man that kills anyone that invades his mountain (not really explaining why this spirit doesn't kill EVERYONE on said mountain) while the sheriff's department believe the murderer is the mystery third partner of the crew.
Next we have two groups of vacationers, a set of married couples and a group of college girls that rent rooms, the college girls renting the room where the murder occurred (the day before!) The married couples are there to celebrate Tony (Tom Bongiorno) passing the bar and the college girls are there to try to help Sue (Ramona Andrada) recover from her father's recent death. There's a lot of character interaction and shenanigans between the two groups including false scares, drunk dialogue, a scary and prophetic dream and of course winter fishing. Then one by one, folks start getting murdered by an unknown assailant in true slasher form. Who is the killer? The spirit of the mountain man? The mystery third partner? One of the group?
Satan's Blade was shot in 1980 but was unreleased until 1984, as the initial slasher golden age was winding down. All the ingredients are here: a remote location, a legend, a lulling, false sense of security, killer point of view shots and murder galore. A disclaimer of sorts is that it's not an action packed film. The film takes it's time getting going but it's off kilter enough that I didn't mind. Satan's Blade brings to mind some other strange and slightly off slasher films like The Dark Side Of Midnight (1984) and Have A Nice Weekend (1975). For certain slasher fans out there (I count myself among you) this is an exciting prospect.
There's not a lot of gore (none really) and the acting is passable, if just. The camera doesn't do a lot of moving and the framing allows for cameos by a boom mike. (Spoiler alert: the boom mike isn't the killer.) When it all wraps up with the killer's reveal and set up for a sequel that never materialized I believe your time is well spent. Where some folks see dull and meandering I see charming and dreamlike. Mileage of course may vary.
The film is presented in a new HD 2K scan of the original 35MM film. It's scratchy in places but on the whole is a very attractive picture for a low budget slasher of the time, especially if you've ever seen Satan's Blade on VHS. Colors are vibrant and the 4:3 framing allows for a presentation that is different from the now widescreen norm. I imagine this is the best we'll ever see Satan's Blade look.
Audio is presented in a DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track and dialogue was crisp and clear. No subtitles.
Olive and Slasher Films include a director's narrative featuring L. Scott Castillo Jr and Slasher Video's own Jesus Teran, a photo gallery, Satan's Blade scrapbook, Dutch home video scene, Japanese home video scene, Satan's Blade trailer and a Satan's Blade 2 fan trailer. Also included is Remembering Satan's Blade which is an interview with the director. L. Scott Castillo Jr gives a very earnest but bizarre recollection of the film and shows off a little of the film memorabilia. It's shot on video and the camera person doesn't seem to know what they are doing and huge chunks of it are filled with the director trying to get posters out of packages, discussing his weapon skills, and talking about his patriotism. He's prompted every little bit by a lady that is seated across from him and even though he's onscreen for the majority of the featurette, we never get a good look at his face. I don't say this to make fun because he is very endearing and obviously cares about his film. I only mention it to highlight that it's one of the oddest things I've seen in a while and I'm not really doing it's sheer weirdness justice here. It's a lot of extras for a low budget slasher film that hasn't had a dvd release much less a bluray release until now.
If you're looking for John Carpenter's Halloween move along because this may not be for you. But if you're looking for a slasher film that is a little strange, a little meandering, but ultimately delivers you early 80's slasher goodness, check out Olive Films/Slasher Video's presentation of Satan's Blade. The film has some charm and a bit of (possibly accidental) atmosphere. You could do a lot worse.