|release date||December 27 1976|
|director||Norman J. Warren|
|starring||Michael Gough, Martin Potter, Candace Glendenning|
|tagline||It's Catherine's birthday. You're invited to her torture party.|
Reviewed by Mike Ferraro
After a pretty fantastic 70s opening credit sequence, Satan’s Slave (aka Evil Heritage) jumps right into a satanic ritual involving a naked chick and some masked dudes. Clearly there is something evil afoot, as the girl’s eyes turn red, the men running the show wear masks that look like Star Wars creatures. The film then continues down a long, dark, path into the weird and culty, filled to the brim with enough boobs, blood, and 70′s bush to keep even the loneliest of souls happy.
Catherine Yorke (Candance Glendenning) is a young woman catching a ride with her parents to visit her somewhat creepy Uncle Alexander (Hammer Horror vet Michael Gough, with one of cinema’s finest moustaches). The drive takes a turn for the worst when her father drives them into a tree in the very driveway of their planned destination. As Catherine gets out of the car to get help, her parents die in a fiery (yet unexplained) explosion.
“Off to sleep, my dear. We’ll look after you.”
So says Uncle Alex, in a way such that confirms the viewer’s suspicion of some sort of evil motivation. We quickly learn about the strange relationship between the family members of the house. His son, Stephen, has a taste for the odd. Their live-in secretary, Frances, also seems to have some motives for the strange but her goal isn’t quite clear.
Satan’s Slave is a very interesting picture, in terms of pacing and atmosphere. Every minuscule action throughout provides the audience with enough uneasiness to keep your attention. You’re not going to get enveloped by the character arcs but that won’t stop you from trying to figure out just what the Hell is going on in this house. Fans of House of the Devil might take note of the historical significance of this film in the genre (and it would make for a great double feature). Scorpion Releasing must have Ti West on the payroll to help discover these lost cult gems.
The juxtaposition of imagery between the house and Catherine also deserves attention. With aide to masterful cinematography (credited to 5 different cinematographers), the drab backgrounds of the house mix well with Catherine’s brightly colored attire. The pacing really picks up during the last act of the film, when everything (except for an explanation) comes to fruition. Catherine fights for her life when Stephen goes on a murder-spree, and cultists try to capture her for a sacrificial ceremony of an unknown purpose. Sometimes, however, certain films just don’t need that much of an explanation into the intricacies of plot. They simply need to entertain us with strangeness. In that respect, Satan’s Slave definitely succeeds.