Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Satan's Sadists

Uneasy Riders

Satan's Sadists
USA 1969
Directed by Al Adamson
Severin Blu Ray Zone A/B/C

Not, surprisingly, riding the dust of Easy Rider, which came out around five months after this movie was released, Satan’s Sadists was nevertheless still trying (and apparently succeeding) to capture the biker gang youth market of the time. Now, frankly, I hate these kinds of movies about leather and jeans clad biker hoodlums riding, raping, murdering and generally terrorising their way across the streets and, in this case, deserts of America but, well, all I can say is that at least this film was a little more engaging than the previous Al Adamson film I’d seen in Severin’s beautiful Al Adamson - The Masterpiece Collection Blu Ray set... namely Brain Of Blood (reviewed here).

The film starts with some road shots of bicycles, some of which, I’m pretty sure, turned up again later that year in the Hell’s Bloody Devils recut of The Fakers (which I reviewed in various versions here). We meet the Swastika decalled Satan’s Sadists, led by their chief named Anchor, played by everyone’s favourite Jet from West Side Story, Russ Tamblyn. Tamblyn’s 'look' in this film, in which he nearly always appears with red sunglasses and a big hat pulled down almost completely over those glasses, was apparently his own choice because he wanted to disassociate himself from this kind of movie with audiences. However, his name’s plastered all over the marketing, along with the fact that the film was shot, like The Female Bunch (reviewed here), on the infamous Spahn Ranch just before Charlie Manson’s ‘hippie killers’ went nuts and killed Sharon Tate. The marketing campaign for the film made much of this, apparently.

Okay, so we start off in a pre-credit sequence where Tamblyn and his gang... including Adamson regulars John 'Bud' Cardos, Robert Dix and, in an ‘introducing’ credit, Adamson’s future wife Regina Carrol playing the underappreciated, ‘besotted with Anchor’, sleazy biker chick... rape a lady and then kill her and her lover by pushing alcohol into their system and pushing their car off a nearby cliff. Again, I’m pretty sure it’s the same car roll and explosion used in other Adamson films such as Blood Of Dracula’s Castle (reviewed here).

We then have Bob Le Bar’s opening title sequence which is, pretty much the only saving grace of the movie, I would say (and still it’s more interesting than Brain Of Blood). Adamson then takes a divergence to set up various characters. So we have Jacqulin Cole playing Tracy, who goes to work in a desert cafe while her three lady friends head off into the mountains to camp and pick up stuff for their college Geology lessons. We also have hitchhiker and ex-marine Johnny Martin, played by Gary Kent. He hitches a ride with a big city cop on vacation with his wife and they all find their way to stop at the same cafe where Tracy works with her boss, played by another Adamson regular, Kent Taylor. And by this point you kinda know they’re all just there to be fodder for the biker gang who, naturally, turn up and terrorise them all. The cop’s wife is raped and they, along with the boss of the cafe, are shot by Anchor. However, Johnny and Tracy escape after Johnny has killed two of Anchor’s clique who were guarding them. This is apparently the first film to have somebody drown by having their head flushed in a toilet.

And this is where the film almost got very interesting but, well... at least it doesn’t quite continue as these films often do, with more of the same. Well, actually some of the same but, after Johnny and Tracy have to abandon Tracy’s beach buggy, they head into the mountains to try and evade... Satan’s Sadists. So here the film becomes a cat and mouse game between the bikers and the two fleeing protagonists... which has a lot of potential as a kind of pre-Rambo 'outdoors trap' movie... and I wish maybe somebody would actually make that film one of these days. However, the bikers come across the three camping Geology babes and terrorise them instead, while two of the bikers continue looking for our main protagonists. This includes a character called Acid spiking everybody’s coffee with LSD and they all have what I can only describe as a soft focus, very tame, desert pseudo-orgy with an overly used camera zoom. So, yeah, it’s a terrible way of bringing a grimy, shabby sexuality into the movie which is in no way thrilling and, frankly, quite dull. Of course, Anchor decides to shoot the girls too but, at least he does it off screen at some point.

While said orgy is occurring, rejected Regina Carrol rides her bike through the desert until her inevitable crash and burn moment, which you totally knew must be coming, as she rides her bike off a cliff. I’m beginning to notice a bit of a trend here as Adamson’s muse Regina seems to be having the same kind of brutal death luck that Dario Argento’s former muse, Daria Nicolodi, used to have in his films.

And by this point, most of the gang have either accidentally killed each other or themselves (LSD fuelled death by a solo version of Russian roulette anyone?) before they even get near the escaping witnesses. Johnny does take care of a few of them, though, leaving Tamblyn to die the last as Johnny and Tracy ride off into the sunset.

While I’m extremely grateful to Severin for making Satan’s Sadists and many other Adamson movies available in their box set, this is a movie I’m guessing I’ll never watch again. It held my interest for what it was but I have no desire to watch slacker hoodlums terrorising innocent folk as a regular part of my cinematic diet. I think there may be a couple more biker movies in this set and I shall definitely check them out for this blog but, yeah, films like this one are not why I made the purchase, in all honesty. Nothing really against these kinds of pictures it’s just that they’re... not really my cup of tea. Steer well clear unless you love these kinds of films, would be my advice.

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