Monday, September 08, 2014


Nude for Satan presents a conundrum for any reviewer. Or, at least, any reviewer that hopes to offer up something more than hyperbolic babble about the how bizarre the stuff on display becomes in this not quite coherent splay of images. Should this film be called stream of consciousness gothic fluff? Or perhaps a low budget sleazy creepfest? Is it maybe just a silly shaggy dog story with a punch line that lands with a thud instead of a pop? Or maybe it should simply be noted as a typical 1970s European entry in the 'hell is a place on earth' camp of EC comics inspired horror tales? No. While those labels might do for someone with less interest in this sub-genre those terms will not suffice for me. This movie more accurately falls into a category I like to call 'Foregone Conclusion Theater'. You've seen these stories before. The entire movie builds slowly to a final revelation that sharp viewers have copped to long before the onscreen characters gasp in reaction to the supposedly amazing information. Except even that description isn't quite right because both main characters are openly wondering if they are really dead by the half way mark of the movie. So what the hell is this thing? Crazy as a rat trapped in a coffee can, to be perfectly honest. Cinema delirium! But is it entertaining? Well...

The story begins simply enough with Doctor Benson (Stelio Candelli) driving through the night on his way to the Witmore Estate to make a house call. Unsure of his way, he stops for directions and is warned that going to the Witmore villa is a bad idea. He ignores this advice and drives on until a woman dressed in white looms up out of the dark into the path of his car. The doctor swerves and misses the woman but as he searches the roadside for her afterwards there is nothing to be found. Puzzled and at a loss to explain this he is about to continue his journey when a second car crashes on the road only a few feet from him. Just for the record, this is one of the worst faked car crashes in cinema history. The sound of a skid and crash are heard on the soundtrack and a lone tire rolls past Benson in the road. Hysterically, the tire would never have fit the car it's supposed to have detached from. This was the first indicator of just how strange things were going to get.

Benson pulls Susan (the very lovely Rita Calderoni), the only passenger of the 'crashed' car, out and loads her into his own vehicle. He recognizes her and decides it would be best to get her to the estate to care for her injuries. Once there he has a strange encounter with a servant who makes odd statements and then disappears into thin air. Unable to get anyone to answer his knocking he is about to return to the car when the front door of the castle opens on its own. Clueless that this is a BAD sign, he enters and looks around the apparently deserted, dusty and cobwebbed place. Searching for people he stumbles from room to room and behind each door there seems to be a new strange sight. There is a laughing, web-covered corpse, a nude woman being molested by a man dressed in Victorian clothing, etc. Confused as can be, Benson is then greeted by the hale & hardy woman he pulled from the car wreck, wearing a 19th century style dress. She insists her name is Evelyn, not Susan, and persuades the doctor to join her to be introduced to the family as her beloved.

From here on in it becomes increasingly clear that time has no meaning and both the present day events and 19th century happenings are jumbled together. The narrative swings back and forth between the modern day Susan meeting the lord of the Witmore castle and Dr. Benson trying to figure out his predicament with Evelyn. Susan is ushered into the house by the mysterious Lord (James Harris) and it quickly becomes evident that he is some kind of devil or demon pushing the characters around. Susan acts as if she is under a spell, never asking his name and blithely going along with his suggestions. She is shown to a room, given a hot bath and slips very naturally into a lesbian tryst with the black chambermaid. She then goes to bed but has a dream of her sexy new female lover that becomes a nightmare as the servant strangles her. Awakening out of this she goes wandering around the castle while a storm rages outside. Following odd sounds, she is horrified to find the chambermaid being whipped by an older male servant. Then things get weird. (I know — just bear with me!)

Running away from the torture scene, Susan stumbles into a room and becomes trapped in a giant spider's web. And here comes the big hairy spider right toward its new prey! Okay. Remember earlier when I said the faked car crash was hysterical? I should have saved that word to describe the fake spider in this sequence. Seriously! I have seen some bad fake spiders in my day. The ones Fulci set next to real ones in The Beyond. The awful one that leaped onto Rod Taylor in World Without End. The Volkswagen beetle in The Giant Spider Invasion. All of these now take a back seat to the miserable excuse for a spider in Nude for Satan. But that's not the funniest part! By this time the separate storylines are mashed together in such a way that confusion is par for the course. So when Dr. Benson bursts into the room and shoots the spider off Susan, all the questions lingering in my mind about what is actually happening evaporated as I sputter-laughed at the site of what looks like feathers flying off the thing. Disregard the madness of shooting at the girl-  the fake spider's ignominious death is a classic of bizarre cinema.

Anyway, things continue on like this for a good long while with doppelgangers running about the place getting naked and more hints that the lord of the castle is Old Scratch himself — all to little real effect. The film reaches its nadir with a ten minute chase through the castle grounds that ends with Benson catching himself. Yeah, it's that kind of film. It's crazy, nonsensical and mostly silly but I have to admit I didn't really dislike it. It's not for every audience and will most likely only please fans of Euro-Trash or those interested in bizarre cinema in general. Although I fit both those categories I only think of this as a middling experience. But as with any movie of this type, your mileage may vary. It's sleazy, sadistic and displays plenty of perversity making it a fun experience — if you know what I mean. On the 'Weird-Ass European Cinema' scale it's stranger than Delirium but not as freaky as Black Magic Rites (AKA The Reincarnation of Isabel). Take that for what it's worth. And did I mention that Rita Calderoni is gorgeous? And nude for a considerable percentage of the running time? That is well worth mentioning. (Trust me.)

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