“Decent retro-styled drive-in fare deserves better title”
It does, because Jeffrey Hunt’s SATANIC, getting a UK DVD release courtesy of Soda Pictures, isn’t bad at all, especially if you fancy a modern version of an early 1970s exploitation picture about devil worship and teenagers bound for misadventure.
Four friends decide to spend their spring break visiting sites of ‘occult interest’ in Los Angeles. These include Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan, which looks more like Betty Crocker’s Eggshell Blue Bungalow of Lovely Cakes from the outside, and the site of the Manson Family murders. Heading downtown they pop into the local shop of Black Magic and Occult Paraphernalia and make an enemy of the bald-headed proprietor who has an inverted cross tattooed on the back of his scalp.
Because they are American movie teenagers they exhibit the classic characteristics of not just being Annoying but being Unwise as well, they decide the best way to handle this fracas is to wait until the shop closes and follow the chap and his friend in their pickup truck to their Deserted Barn Location of Satanic Worship.
They peek through the window to witness a scene that I hope is a tribute to Jack Starrett’s 1975 RACE WITH THE DEVIL. They even interrupt it and end up the next day having fizzy drinks with the intended sexy naked teenaged sacrificial victim. She has clothes on by now, of course. Being true to their Unwiseness, the teenagers offer her a place to stay but unfortunately she turns out to be even more raving bonkers than the people back at the barn.
Horror ensues, and the teens find themselves on the run from something so terrifying we never really get to see it, but that’s okay, because the ending is sufficiently well shot and lit and with enough of a punch at the end that you don’t mind that too much.SATANIC really isn’t bad at all. Imagine the kids wearing flares and this could easily be the kind of thing Jack Hill was making in 1973. It's a sad thing to say, but these days it’s actually a delight to see a competently made low budget film in this era of got-camera-make-DVD-budget-rubbish. The one quibble I would have is that something like this really shouldn’t be shot in 2.35:1 with crisp digital photography. SATANIC would be so much more effective (and far more terrifying) if we could have it in grungy grind house 35mm, preferably in 4:3 and transferred to VHS. There are no extras. SATANIC is by no means as good as Mike Flanagan’s OUIJA 2, but if you fancy some devil worship stuff with a similar retro feel, then it's pretty good fun for 80 minutes.
Jeffrey Hunt's SATANIC is out on UK DVD from Soda Picture from 2nd January 2017