Saturday, November 7, 2009

Satan's School for Girls (1973)

Caution: Spoilers Galore

Young, blonde, beautiful Martha Sayers (Terry Lumley) is desperate to find her sister, Elizabeth. An old caretaker finds her pounding frantically on Elizabeth's door, and kindly lets her in to the apartment. Once inside, she takes great care to lock the door behind her, and close all the drapes. It is as though she is hiding from someone, or something. An unseen entity approaches, and Martha emits a bloodcurdling scream.

Elizabeth (Pamela Franklin) returns home later to find the place swarming with cops, and her sister hanging dead from the ceiling. Refusing to accept the police's suicide theory, she decides to undertake her own investigation.

Elizabeth travels to the Salem Academy of Fine Arts, where her sister has been studying. She hopes that someone at the school can provide her with some insight into her sister's final days. She opts to go undercover, and meets with the Headmistress (Jo Van Fleet) in order to enroll as a student herself. She tells no one of her relationship to the late Martha Sayers.

Girls of good breeding are more easily groomed
into young ladies of culture and refinement.

Elizabeth begins to notice all kinds of weird shit almost immediately, beginning with a gloomy portrait of her dead sister painted by Debbie (Jamie Smith-Jackson), one of her new classmates at the Academy. Rat Mind Control and Manipulation class with Professor Delacroix (Lloyd Bochner) proves highly enlightening for Elizabeth, as well. And then, another suicide... WTF is going on at this goddamned school???

A mind can be broken to any level
by manipulation, and locked on any level...
make it believe what we want, and act as we wish.

Elizabeth's new friend, Roberta (Kate Jackson), tells her of the macabre history of Salem Academy. Eight young women accused of practicing Witchcraft were supposedly hung in the cellar of the building, which was reputed to be nearly 300 years old. The two girls seem to be coming to the realization that their is much truth in the old addage: they don't make 'em like they used to.

As luck would have it, the handsome art teacher, Professor Clampett (Roy Thinnes) is Malleus Maleforicum: The Hammer of Witches!!! But some just call him Satan. Roberta is in cahoots with him, along with six other girls - plus Elizabeth - mirroring the 8 girls hung as witches back in the burning times! Ain't nothing like a good, old fashioned sacrifice!

I welcome what man rejects.
I beckon what man despises.
I forgive what man will not.

While I am not going to blow the ending for you, I will divulge that it's a real scorcher of a climax/finale. Fans of 1970's TV-Cinema might recall this nicely-plotted, well-acted boob tube drama from Creature from the Black Lagoon screenwriter Arthur A. Ross. Satan's School for Girls was directed by David Lowell Rich, and produced by Aaron Spelling. The old coot was so pleased with the pairing of Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd (who played Jody, one of the witch girls) that he recast them together in the mega-hit Charlie's Angels.

Thanks to Karswell for including this tasty, television terror-fest in that big ole box of horriffic burns!

4/5 Kitty Skulls = Video Cocaine!


Karswell said...

Definitely one of the best made for TV horror flicks of the 70's. I must've watched it 20 times as a kid on the late show during my youth. Real good review, and as always awesome captures!


Kitty LeClaw said...

This predates me by 6 years - I had never seen it before! I took about a zillion caps, these are the ones that made the final cut. Very aesthetic film!

Lily Strange said...

Oh, I love this one. Absolutely dreadful--but enjoyably so.

Kitty LeClaw said...

I bet the Salem Academy Volleyball Team really killed! Har.