Satan's Children is a brutal rape and revenge movie that involves a satanist cult story from 1974. It's full-on Grindhouse and exploitation at its finest, which means the story, budget, and performances are all lackluster to a laughable degree. But it took guts to make this movie and even tell something about gender issues and social culture about homosexuality, even if the message is buried deep down under a savage horror story. The 1080p HD image and the mono audio track are serviceable, but the bonus features are all worthwhile. For Fans Only!
Grindhouse cinema loves to fully exploit various subjects, whether it be women, nuns, minorities, monsters, and even rape and revenge culture. Back in the early '70s, many filmmakers created Grindhouse flicks on a minuscule budget that excited audiences across the nation during midnight screenings at drive-ins. In 1974, director Joe Wiezycki earned a few dollars and made a movie titled Satan's Children in Florida that followed a tortured teenage boy, a satanic cult, and a ton of rape and revenge. But with most Grindhouse movies, its shoestring budget, bad performances, laughable script, and shoddy effects, there are only a few minutes that are even fun to watch or have a bit of action.
Wiezycki had a wonderful exploitative story on hand, but the trouble is that he had no idea to make it feature-length. Satan's Children could have been a brutal and amazing short film, but since there was really no great script or memorable performances due to lack of budget, there are a ton of prolonged sequences where nothing happens in order to get that feature-length stamp of approval. At eighty-four minutes, this movie seems long and painful, however, there is some gross entertainment to be had when every mean-spirited character receives their comeuppance.
Satan's Children tackles those early days of homosexuality and what people thought of satanic cults in all the worst ways as a young teenage boy named Bobby is living a very violent homelife. His stepfather abuses him and his sister follows suit whenever she gets a chance. They do this so much, that it forces Bobby to run away, where he crosses paths with a seemingly nice guy at a bar. That's not the case though as this man and his friend's gang rape the young Bobby and leave him for dead on the side of the road. A satanic cult takes him in and the cult leader gets jealous and angry about Bobby's appearance and homosexuality. From here, Bobby escapes the cult and takes his revenge on everyone who wronged him into a climax that makes perfect sense and no sense at the same time. It's quite a feat.
Make no mistake though, there are only a few minutes of actual action and horror. Most of the movie is bland and slow, which falls in line with most Grindhouse movies. Stephen White plays Bobby well enough, especially in the first segments of the film where he showcases his horror and psychological damage as these horrid acts are committed upon him. The rest of the cast is either extremely over-the-top or so dry that it's difficult to tell if there is any acting involved. There are better films out there for sure, even in this genre, however, Satan's Children conjures up some crazy social and gender issues, even if it's misguided and exists only for its own exploitation.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Satan's Children chants its way to Blu-ray via AGFA. The disc is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case. There is no insert of any kind. The artwork features a red filtered collection of yearbook photos with the eyes marked out. The reversible artwork is the original poster of the film which is an illustrated crucifixion of a woman.
Satan's Children comes with a 1080p HD transfer from AGFA. The film was made on 35mm and has been given a 2K transfer from that 35mm print. The image quality is all over the place. Certain well-lit sequences inside or in sunny exteriors look good, revealing closeups that reveal hairs, pimples, and practical makeup effects. Other scenes at night or in low-lit areas are scratchy, murky, and not sharp. Colors are a bit muted here and there and in other places are over-saturated. Nothing looks particularly natural, but then again, this is expected from Grindhouse cinema.
Black levels are okay at best, but there are some bleeding and murky shadows. Skin tones are somewhat natural. There is still a ton of print damage with dirt, debris, warps, lines, and even reel changes, which can be fun in the right frame of mind. There are also a lot of video issues, but of course, this is the type of film to have all these problems and not be necessarily a bad thing. Film grain is heavy and fluctuates from sequence to sequence.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA Mono mix and gets the job done on a small scale. There is no heft or bass here and some of the dialogue and sound effects can sound like a tin can, but the dialogue is clean enough to understand it. The synth score adds to the suspense of the film, but also sounds out of place. There's nothing much to this audio mix besides its dialogue and shoddy sound effects.
There are about 109 minutes of extras included here with an added commentary track by some film historians. A cast and crew reunion and old tv specials are included, along with some creepy short films.
Satan's Children is a reminder of a forgotten genre of film that is not really made these days. Grindhouse and exploitation movies like Satan's Children exist for entertainment and lessons in filmmaking. Even though the film has a lot of issues, it takes a lot of guts to make something like this and some good elements for both gore hounds and people looking for a tiny bit more under the surface. The video and audio presentation aren't great, but then again, that's the style of grindhouse. The extras are worthwhile for sure. For Fans Only!