Saturday, February 19, 2011

SATAN'S BLADE (1984) - the one sword pens don't wanna fuck wit, or a lost anti-classic of the ski slasher genre

I know what you’re thinking. The lord of darkness is tired of all these teens making out in the woods, and he’s the man that’s gonna do something about it. Taking the law into his own hands, he’s laying down his own brand of justice in the form of a vigilante spree carried out with the assistance of a giant fucking magical sword that shoots fireballs!

Well…no. Not exactly. Instead, Satan’s Blade is really the story of a group of schmoes that decide to go skiing. More to the point, they stand around in a cabin and deliver dialogue, and occasionally one of them says “time to hit the slopes!”. They head out the door, time passes, and they pop back in and say something to the effect of “boy, all that skiing sure was fun!”. So, the fact that all the skiing is off-screen really hurts it’s stature amongst it's ski slasher peers. While Iced is certainly the ne plus ultra entry in this category, at least in Blood Tracks we get a lot of snow, and an avalanche, and mountainous terrain, and even a few helicopter shots.

The story begins at the shittiest looking bank in the history of VHS cinema, where two perps force their way in after closing. One of them nabs the money, while the other uses a knife to rip off the blouse of one of two girls working there. You’d think they’d let the girls go after a little sexual assault, but no, they fill them with lead. These guys must be sleazy, immoral assholes, but no…they are in fact two sleazy lesbians! I guess they’re hoping that the bacon investigation will assume two men carried out the crime, that women are incapable of such female hating extracurriculars during a routine bank robbery.

Well, the drama doesn’t end there. They head to a ski resort cabin, and instead of splitting $50,000 three ways (there is also some dude who had the “inside info” about the tiny office space doubling as a bank), one lesbian kills the other with the intention of running away with all of the loot, realizing that $50 g’s is way better than $16,666 and sixty-seven cents. Unfortunately, someone carrying Satan’s blade makes a bloody mess of her. Two incompetent porkers stumble upon the scene, no doubt shocked that a simple lesbian getaway could turn into an orgy of kayo syrup.

Well, the next morning arrives, and a carload full of potential victims take a ski trip to the mountains. They are staying in the same cabin where the previous slaughter took place, so I guess the bacon investigation wrapped up the case and cleaned up the dead lesbian mess, all in a scant 12 hours or so…and to think I doubted their craft. Frankly, I’m stunned. Anyway, the lady that runs the "resort" mentions some crazy old legend about a mountain man who was tricked by Satan into stabbing people, and now lives in the lake. However, there’s no mention of the fact that lesbian bank robbers escape to the resort to stab each other. Our ski group hears about all this, along with another group of nitwits. They all agree to rent the cabins anyway, mostly because "it sounds exciting", all the murders and lakes and Satan and shit.

The two main couples are staying in one cabin, while five girls are staying in the cabin next door. There is also a "local old timer" about who believes that the mountain spirit is responsible for the murders from the night before. He stills decides to fish at the lake anyway. I guess ya gotta eat. To pass the time, the two married guys in the one cabin get unconvincingly drunk on good old Jack Daniels, while one of the girls next door has a nightmare about a masked man slicing up her friends. She wakes up and is startled by...a masked man! That is quite a coincidence! Actually, it’s just one of the drunkards playing a joke, the old “I’ll dress up as the dude in your dreams and sneak up on you because I’m an asshole with nothing better to do” routine.

So, our victims talk, go fishing, ski off screen, go out to eat, go out for walks, etc., until, finally, the killer shows up at the girly cabin and gets down to beeswax. He simultaneously drowns a girl in the sink while slitting her throat, a possible homage to Mario Bava’s
Blood and Black Lace (and by homage, I mean pilfered whole hog). One girl, fresh out of the shower, gets the simultaneous stab in the back/smushed face on a mirror deal. Another gets stabbed in her rather large breast (the other one’s pretty big too), while the last girl gets repeatedly stabbed in the chest between the breasts (you gotta mix it up sometimes, keep things fresh).

The girls' bodies are found, and the two alpha-ish males pounce into action. They decide on a testosterone fueled plan: let’s get the fuck outta dodge. Unfortunately, one of the tires on the car has been slit. It’s that asshole Satan and his blade again, I’m sure. Somebody needs to teach that guy a lesson.

The best murder in the film occurs when the killer hurls the blade like a ninja right into someone's back (in a rather delayed edit). The victim tries to crawl across the snow to the highway (in a long master shot), but falls just short of being recognized by a passing vehicle, and finally, dies. She’s so close, yet so far away, as she crawls across dead, frozen branches, coldly ignored by the technological indifference of the outside world. This is as close to poetry as the movie achieves, but keep in mind, it’s kinda photographed like shit. If you were bored by that part, you’ll probably enjoy the next scene where a dude gets impaled and his liver flies out. Awesome.

After everyone except the final girl is dead, the killer snags the money from the bank robbery, which was hidden behind a vent this whole time (I guess that was some sloppy police work after all). The next morning, the final girl runs into the deputy's arms, who, being the ruthless bacon head he is, stabs her and admits to the killings. He was apparently possessed by the spirit of the mountain man, and also admits to wanting a little cash to play with. She tries to get away, heading back into the cabin and, for the second time, runs upstairs and hides underneath the bed. It worked the first time, but, unfortunately, you go to the well once too often, you’re going to get stabbed repeatedly.

Well, the devil possessed pork chop hurls the dagger into the lake in sort of a dumbass reversal of Excalibur. He washes the blood off his hands in the river, and I guess we’re supposed to reflect on the deputy’s moral responsibility, and conclude that he’s innocent, a poor public servant made to kill by the overwhelming power of Beelzebub and his pesky rapier. I say hang ‘em both. Assholes. The mountain man in the lake continues the Excalibur homage by hurling the knife out of the water and into a tree. Actually, its footage repeated from the beginning of the film, only tinted red this time. Some schmuck then wanders by and sees the knife, and we get the title card "The Legend Continues!". Sweet! Only…it didn’t. No financier could come up with the 17,000 dollars needed to produce a sequel. Sucks for you. For all of us really.

relevant footage begins at 5:58


  1. Yeah, Satan's Blade *sung in falsetto, of course* is so ridiculously awesome! I love how there is never more than one shot, like when the two married dudes are drinking on the couch, and it's the same 45 degree camera angle for the entire scene! Satan's Blade is gutter Slasher gold, and I am glad to see someone else has actually watched it!

  2. Hey, how's it going? It's no lie, I tend to be quite picky when it comes to flicks like this. But this one (Satan's Blade), from what I've read ("they are in fact two sleazy lesbians!") and seen (poor hot brunette bank employee), has a certain quality about it. Would you recommend that I seek it out? Or should I concentrate energy elsewhere -- you know, on things like The Lonely Lady and Pulsebeat?

    The opening credits to Blood and Black Lace rock extremely hard.

    Just to let you know, there are ten pictures of Diane Franklin as Suzy Putterman featured on this blog.

  3. @Matt
    Yeah, it might be the rarest shot on film 80's slasher. The scene where the two dudes get drunk on the couch are mind numbing, also hurt by the clip-on mikes that the cast wears. I didn't think to mention it, but those clip-ons add a bit of comedic value, what with the wind and their hands and whatever occasionaly bumping against them. Thanks for reading!

    Hey! I would only recommend it to true connoisseurs of slasher trash, or to the defeated and the hopeless. However, Matt might disagree with me on this point, so believe who you must. So, no. However, The Lonely Lady might be better than life itself. Now I'll have the theme song in my head for the rest of the day. THANKS!

    Blood and Black Lace is one my fave movies. I even have the limited edition (out of 2000) German DVD with a black velvet case. A new copy on Amazon UK goes for 256 pounds, which is like 50,000 U.S. I think. I might swap it for a house in Detroit.

    Is that not enough? Maybe an even dozen? You know, that's a good idea. I should add more pics of Diane. The Lester Bangs pic might get forced out the door.