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  Satan's Blade Snowbound And HellboundBuy this film here.
Year: 1984
Director: L. Scott Castillo Jr
Stars: Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steele, Thomas Cue, Elisa L. Malinovitz, Janeen Lowe, Ramona Andrada, Diane Taylor, Marti Neal, Susan Bennett, Ski Mark Ford, Fred Armond, Meg Greene, Mary Seamen, Richard Taecker, Carrol Cotion
Genre: Horror, Trash
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: At this bank, they are closing for the day and the two remaining staff are preparing to leave, but suddenly there is a banging on the door and one of them goes to see who it is. She tells them that business hours are over, then notices this person has a gun - two people, in fact, both armed who barge their way in and one rifles through the cash while the other holds the two women hostage, cutting open the blouse of a hapless victim. Then, as if that were not bad enough, once the money has been collected they shoot the women dead and leave. Soon after, the criminals are holed up in a ski lodge in the mountains, but - gasp! - they are women, and one of them plans to make good use of her cut of the cash, by taking the others' cut too...

Satan's Blade was shot at the height of the first wave of the slasher craze, around the point that Halloween was spawning low budget copycats left, right and centre, Friday the 13th being the most successful of those. This, on the other hand, was a largely neglected effort, not securing a release until 1984, four years after it had been made, when the thirst for these much denigrated horrors was beginning to be slaked, indeed there was an overabundance of these things that flooded the market. The advance of home video over actually playing theatrically for these efforts was proving there was still money to be made, and so this little item was put out on VHS to be forgotten about in the corner of a video store.

However, these chillers have a habit of never being entirely forgotten, and down the years there would be the hardy few who would either recall it or stumble across one of those tapes, until it was finally released on disc. No matter how bad its admittedly limited reputation was, and it seemed nobody but the director L. Scott Castillo Jr had much good to say about it as far as anyone involved in the production went, and not just because they didn't get paid either, there was always going to be someone making claims it was underrated. This was par for the course for any eighties slasher, but were these fans merely anaesthetised by years of watching this stuff, or was there any merit to the proceedings whatsoever?

The answer to that was, well, probably not, it was patently an impoverished shoot with only the snowbound setting marking it out as visually interesting, though from the way the characters continually harped on about skiing you might have anticipated a few scenes on the slopes, yet not so much as a ski pole was seen (wouldn't that have made for a decent weapon under the circumstances?). It becomes an unintentional running gag that the holidaymakers are dropping skiing into every conversation in spite of us never witnessing any such activity, so much so that they begin to sound deluded what with the total lack of equipment and any evidence that they had been near a pair of skis in their lives. But was that more interesting than what we were here to see, the thrills?

Thrills are objective, naturally, but you would have to have the patience of Job to sit through what seems like acres of nothing very much happening to get to the bloodshed at the end. Oh, those bank robbers at the beginning? They are despatched in about ten minutes, one (providing gratuitous nudity) shot by the other who is then murdered by the mystery killer. Then we meet the two bands of tourists who no matter that they have been warned by the mother of the resort's manager that rum doings are afoot, decide, hey, what's the worst that could happen and set up in two cabins to... ski? Maybe. Probably not. What they do is chat, with a little low jinks added in, including a nightmare sequence added halfway through to make up for the way that all the activity was stuffed into the last twenty minutes. You could tell nobody here was very sure of what they were doing, it was basically amateur hour and a half, and though the blood flowed the excitement levels were minimal. Also, too much walking around in snow with bare feet on - you wince looking at them. Repetitive piano music by Martin Jaquish.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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