Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Legacy of Satan – review

Director: Gerard Damiano

Released: 1974

Contains spoilers

Gerard Damiano was responsible for a couple of the more infamous porn films of the seventies, Deep Throat and the Devil in Miss Jones. Legacy of Satan, I understand, was shot with hardcore scenes, which were then edited out by the distributor. According to one IMDb pundit (jaibo) it played in a double bill with Andy Milligan’s blood - and I can’t begin to imagine how disturbing that might have proved to the casual cinema-goer.

satanic rites
This is a satanic-vampiric cult type movie and it begins with a high priestess (Deborah Horlen) babbling on for ages about a chosen woman of pale complexion and tender years, provided by the dark Lord Rakeesh, who will be the queen to the coven leader Dr Muldavo (John Francis). The joining can only occur once every 1000 years but one of the coven knows her and will bring her to them. The ceremony involves blood drinking.

Cut to the aftermath of a dinner party and Maya (Lisa Christian) is bringing drinks through to her husband George (Paul Barry) and his friend Arthur (James Procter). By the sounds of things Arthur, who is an architect, has up’d and left his job – but hasn’t really given reasons why. He asks George if he believes in God and after George has had an outburst about this Maya hits her husband with the line “George, don’t be so obstinate”. Arthur then suggests if there is a God there must be the equal and opposite, the devil. George exclaims again and Maya retorts, “George, don’t be so obstinate”. Yes the dialogue just flows like a dammed up river, but never-mind, as Lisa Christian and her fellow thespians deliver like they are in a school play anyway.

Arthur and the Blond Blood-farm
Worse than the dialogue and delivery thereof is the God awful dirge of a synthesised soundtrack that haunts the film like a bad smell. Anyhoo, a moustachioed villain, Carlos (Jarrar Ramze), enters a building and an apartment therein and steals a photo whilst the owners (George and Maya) are in bed. Why they didn’t lock their door is anyone’s guess. He returns to Dr Muldavo and passes the photo to him – Maya is to be his queen. This makes his silent henchwoman Auriela (Ann Paul) jealous – which you just know will cause trouble later. Muldavo goes to Arthur, who is being fed blood by a woman credited as the Blond Blood-farm (Christa Helm) and tells him to invite George and Maya to a costume party.

'burning' inside
Before this occurs they hold a rite. The high priestess offers hand movements over a woman (used as a simulacrum of Maya) whilst burning Maya’s photos between the woman’s legs. This causes Maya, back in her apartment, to start having an orgasm filled dream. When George eventually wakes her she needs him to take out the fire (as she puts it) scratches his chest, licks the blood, cries and then has a go at George when he asks her what is wrong.

bleeding painting
Maya then starts having hallucinations (seeing a bleeding picture followed by an attack, and bite to her neck, by a creature with a papier-mâché face) or just acting damned odd and having a go at George (isn’t this cherry pie like blood? – no, it’s like cherry pie – [cuts finger] this is like blood [licks it] you made me cut it!) If I had been George, having her committed might have been an option. Anyway, they get the call from Arthur inviting them to the party – costumes provided and a limo.

They get there and her costume is rather revealing and his is a clown suit! Carlos brings them wine, which makes him pass out and gets her stoned, at which point she goes prancing round the house in a psychedelic sequence worthy of Jess Franco until she meets Dr Muldavo and immediately falls for his charms. George is locked up in a cellar.

George weilds the mighty sword
However, we can’t forget Auriela. She was jealous, as you’ll recall, and then clearly turned her attentions to Arthur as she begged mercy (silently, as she is mute) after Muldavo punished the man for trying to warn his friends and sentenced him to be bled to death and fed upon. She picks up a box and the next thing you know, she is stood with George and he is holding a glowing sword that makes the Satanists hide from the light and causes a really bad rash on coven leader’s faces. Can he save Maya and does she want saving?

for Gawd's sake don't scratch
I have mentioned blood drinking but you’d be forgiven for wondering if that is just an affectation. However Muldavo does say that to live you must drink the life that flows inside (ie blood) and gives an indication that he might actually be 1000 years old (or that was my interpretation of the poor dialogue). The sword seems to be akin to a holy relic (glowing as it does), which begs the question of why Muldavo left it boxed but lying around his drawing room.

This is bad… it really is, bad acting, bad dialogue and really bad soundtrack. The editing is poor but one wonders whether that was down to the distributors expunging the hardcore scenes. It does, however, have a peculiar psychedelic aspect that makes it (slightly) compelling. The prancing through the house by Maya and the bleeding painting are strangely fun moments – even more odd as Lisa Christian’s performance is particularly poor. To see it on the big screen together with Milligan’s Blood would have been a strange old day out, that's something I can safely say. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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