Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Escalofrio (aka Satan's Blood) [1978]

Caution: Spoilers Galore

Andy's soft, delicate, invisibly pregnant wife, Annie, develops a powerful lust for the dance floor one ho-hum afternoon. After Andy reminds his little flower of what everyone already knows (that dancing kills babies), they decide to load up on coffee and cigarettes, and drive recklessly about the city, instead. When that brand of crazy action proves not quite enough, they decide to kick up the heat a few notches by following a couple of perfect strangers back to their secluded mansion for wine and cheese.

Clearly starved for a night out, Annie is delighted by the rather forward invitation. Andy, however, is fixated on his host, Bruno, an old college chum. Why can't he remember him? The facts don't seem to add up. Once inside Bruno and Mary's sprawling love nest, they slowly begin to discover that not everything is as it appears on the surface. A table and a goblet, for example, are merely inanimate objects to most people. However, to some, those two objects can be used in unison to create a mechanism for communication with the world beyond.

The happy couple of squares lap up every drop of weird served them by their gracious hosts. Those two sure know how to throw a party, what with the booze, the necromancy, and the... "swinging from the chandelier," and all.

When a rather convenient storm brews outside, rendering the crude roadway impassable, Andy and Annie are forced to spend the night with their new pals. Annie awakens, and goes wandering in the night, only to be near-raped by a lurking hobo, who seems to have full use privileges in Bruno and Mary's kitchen. When she returns, moments later, with Andy to look for the attacker (unarmed; we are left to assume that Andy planned on giving the guy a stern lecture), they instead find their friendly hosts sitting naked inside a Satanic Circle.

Bruno is chanting, Mary is writhing, and the happy couple of squares can't help but want to know more. Finally, their presence in the room is detected, and they are approached by the ferocious, buxom blonde. For the purposes of the film, the couple is placed under a powerful Satano-trance, but my own, personal reading on the scene(s) to follow is that Andy and Annie were simply craving a ride on the wild baloney pony. The chemistry is definitely interesting: Bruno is depicted as little more than a sad leather freak, his masculinity beaten from him by the insatiable Mary, who is impossible to resist.

"You who are of death
You who kiss death on the mouth
Protect us, and lead us out of our misery."

Not only does this firecracker of a film confirm that Satanic orgies are safer for a developing fetus than dancing, it also contains step-by-step visual instructions on how to complete a Satanic orgy properly. From the correct application of evil head cheese, to the prolonged, piercing scream at the end of the ritual, this movie provides all the information necessary for those wishing to start a Satanic cult or group of their own.

Unfortunately, things get a little too wild and wooly during the orgy, and Mary is left bed-ridden, but still wanton. She takes a spin with just about everyone, including Annie, whom she visits in a rather violent lesbian dream-encounter. It is around this time that Annie begins to notice an absolutely terrifying porcelain doll is following her around. Remarkably, Annie pushes through all the evil weirdness to tend to Mary's ailments. She is a nurse, after all. Personally, I think she just wanted to wait around to see if there might be another orgy.

When the couple of squares finally awaken, and try to leave the house of sin, all Hell most assuredly breaks loose. To top it all off, Bruno finally comes correct on his end of some sort of suicide pact with Mary, and Annie is forced to care for her oversexed hosts once again. Mary leaves to fetch a doctor, and returns in a semi-catatonic state. When the doctor enters the room wearing a black trench coat, you just know it's bad news! Although the man utters a clearly-Satanic verse over Bruno's corpse, Andy and Annie decide to remain helpfully at the scene upon his doctoral authority. What a pair of patsys!

"By the dreadful day of our Judgement
By the four beasts before the throne,
having eyes before and behind
By the fire which is around the throne
Take thy servant, I command thee
Into your world of darkness."

While Andy and Annie lament upon how much their situation blows, Mary sneaks off to slit her wrists in the bathtub. Finally, the happy couple have had enough! They decide to wipe the place of their fingerprints (only to replace them with fresh, new ones) and get the fuck out of dodge before Dr. Death comes back with the law! The house itself turns against them, slamming doors and barring exits. Fortunately, the forces of darkness leave the side door open for them, and they are ultimately able to escape.

The breathless couple finally return home, only to discover that their door no longer opens to their apartment, but instead, to a never-ending Hell. Foolishly, they allow themselves to be taken in by the friendly, old couple living across the hall... in Apt. 66!!! Once inside, they are greeted by all their friends from the Satanic mansion: Bruno, Mary, the bum that near-raped Annie and got stabbed by the weird gatekeeper who Andy and Annie drove over with their car as they were escaping... It's a homecoming fit for a Dark Prince!

Ángel Aranda and Sandra Alberti are impeccable as bickering, Satanic swingers. Bruno is like an early-model Danzig, without any of the corresponding cool, while Mary is a (literally) snarling, rabid sex kitten, with a body that was made to glorify the gods. Andy and Annie (José María Guillén and Mariana Karr) are presented in sharp contrast to their Hell bound hosts, poster children for the sanctity of marriage.

In spite of the fact that Annie is first presented as somewhat of a delicate flower (in a family way, no less), she proves herself capable of managing the myriad of threatening situations presented before her. Not only does she cope well with these situations, but she also seems strangely drawn to them. Her husband, Andy, is oddly attractive, with the face of a more handsome Sylvester Stallone, and the body of a squash-playing accountant. Certainly, he cannot be counted on for protection against the forces of evil.

ESCALOFRIO (aka SATAN'S BLOOD) has all the necessary components of a great devil movie, with an outstanding cast of characters, to boot! Even the voice over actors hired for the English dubbing of this Spanish title from writer/director Carlos Puerto were really quite superb. Although full of blatant plot holes (the foremost being the fact that Andy and Annie were silly to have not taken their chances on the road following the incident with the Ouija table), intriguing character development, along with skillful art direction, save this film from Satano-mediocrity.

Thanks to Karswell for tucking this titillating title inside my Christmas stocking!

And, to read hilarious quips from a different perspective, be sure to check out this review of the same film, posted by The Vicar of VHS of Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies.

4/5 Kitty Skulls ... Video Cocaine!


Karswell said...

Great review Kitten... ESCALOFRIO is definitely one of the highpoints in sleezy Satanic 70's Sinema, and might i add that your screen captures are well picked and (dare I say) tasteful?

It's funny you mention Danzig cuz I always think of him when I see the poster art.

Kitty LeClaw said...

"It's funny you mention Danzig..."

The SPK brain!!! I always saw Danzig in the Where's Waldo books, too.

It was nice to see the couple cooperate, finally, in the end. Devil worship has it's benefits; that swingin' swing pad, for example, must cost at least a soul or two.

prof. grewbeard said...

most interesting, but i have to admit i clicked on the update on my blog because i thought it said "SANTA's Blood"!...

Heather Santrous said...

I watched this one not all that long ago. I found it to be a pretty strange and weird movie. That isn't a bad thing at all to me though. Films that are to weird for most people are films that thrill me to no end.

I like Alucarda a lot more, but this one still had a hold over me. Both films have their problems, like plot holes in this one, but when you are having a lot of fun watching them, it is eaiser to forgive and forget that. Great review!

Anonymous said...

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Satyrblade said...

Gotta love box art that rips off Frank Frazetta and Henry Fuseli simultaniously! Sounds like someone saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Le Frisson des vampires and Rosemary's Baby on the same taquilla-fueled night and decided to re-enact 'em with some Good, Giving & Game compatriots. I must see this one! Thanks, Kitty.

Karswell said...

Happy New Year Princess...

The Vicar of VHS said...

I hate to tell you this, Kitty, but Karswell gives this movie to ALL his blogfriends!

Damn you, Karswell, I thought what we had was SPECIAL! *sniff!* ;)

I enjoyed this movie a lot--it was insane, creepy, funny, and sexy in mostly equal parts, which is an equation that always equals WIN at the Vicarage. Definitely the highlight of my Satanpalooza last year.

Happy new year, Kitty!

(Comment Verification word: ORTENESS. Which I'm assuming is a combination of "orneriness" and "tort"--some kind of rebellious legal reform? I dunno...)

Kitty LeClaw said...

"Karswell gives this movie to ALL his blogfriends!"

Indeed. I heard it's now the most-watched Spanish Satano-Flick in North America!

"Comment Verification word: ORTENESS"

It's Canada's version of the Loch Ness Monster. We call him "Ortie." I seen 'im once!

Happy 2009 to you, Vicar! May all your nightmares be in Technicolor!

Lily Strange said...

Ahhhh....nothing like a good old softcore porn Satanic orgy to open the gates to hell, I always say!

Kitty LeClaw said...

Lily: I dunno... I'm kinda tempted to rate this one as "mediumcore." I saw wang!