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Satan’s Children (AGFA/Something Weird Video) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Satan’s Children (AGFA/Something Weird Video) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: AGFA/Something Weird Video
    Released on: July 16th, 2019.
    Director: Joe Wiezycki
    Cast: Stephen White, Eldon Mecham, Joyce Molloy, Kathleen Marie Archer
    Year: 1975
    Purchase From Amazon

    Satan’s Children – Movie Review:

    A film that could have only come out of 70’s Florida, director Joe Wiezycki’s 1975 film, Satan’s Children, tells the sordid tale of a teenaged boy named Bobby Douglas (Stephen White). He lives with his grouchy stepfather (Eldon Mecham), who seems to always want him to mow the lawn, and his curvy, greasy, tease of a stepsister, Janis (Joyce Molloy). As such, Bobby’s home life is a bit of a mess. He doesn’t get along with the old man and Janis seems interested in little more than giving him boners! When she finds out he’s got a little bit of pot stashed in his bedroom, she threatens to rat him out. Rather than stick around and deal with the aftermath, he runs away from home and heads to the city.

    Along the way, a biker offers Bobby a ride and a place to stay. Bobby, clearly an idiot, takes him up on this offer and before you know it the biker and his burly buds have roped poor Bobby up and had their foul way with him in a car! After they’ve used and abused the poor bastard, Bobby is left for dead in a field. Thankfully, or so it seems, for Bobby a group of Satanists happen to be playing in the same field and when they find him, they take him back to their compound where kindly snaggle-toothed Sherry (Kathleen Archer) plays nursemaid to our downtrodden hero. Soon, with Bobby back to health, he realizes that Sherry isn’t as kind as she seems and when cult leader Simon (Robert C. Ray II) shows up, well, it all hits the fan and let’s just say that Bobby is about to spend a whole lot of time running through the woods in his underwear, whether he likes it or not!

    “Your ass is sore. Poor little boy got raped by some queers. And he's perfectly willing to forget all about it. You must believe in Jesus.”

    Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. Political correctness be damned, Satan’s Children delivers the stupid, sleazy goods in huge, greasy, sweaty dollops. Poor Bobby is put through the ringer and then some, used and abused by everyone that he comes into contact with. All he wants is a bit of grass and some pieces and quiet, maybe an unhealthy romp with his stepsister – but he doesn’t get that. When it seems like things have settled down and that maybe… just maybe… Sherry is the one? Nope, she hangs people and then gets buried up to her neck in the sand and attacked by fucking ants. The whole thing is nuts, and it has that super scuzzy, low budget vibe to it that makes regional exploitation oddities like this one so interesting to watch.

    Yeah, fine, the sets are limited (suburban house, ranch, woods) and the cinematography less than inspired. The acting is no great shakes, though Stephen White commits in a big way in the last fifteen minutes or so and both Kathleen Archer and Robert C. Ray II are at least effective. Joyce Malloy is also kind of awesome as the bitchy, teasy Janis. Clearly, this was made with limited means. But if you’re a fan of low budget trash pictures then you’ll love it. It’s mean spirited at times, completely wrong in its depiction of homosexuals (it doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be intentionally homoerotic or intentionally homophobic and somehow manages to come across as both – you could have a field day analyzing all of this!), and more than a little misguided with whatever messaging might be in there but it offer up some solid shocks, a killer MOOG score, and some unforgettably bizarre set pieces.

    Satan’s Children – Blu-ray Review:

    Satan’s Children is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taken from a new 2k scan of a 35mm theatrical print taking up 24.4GBS of space on the 50GB disc. This appears to be taken from the same source used on the previous Blu-ray release where the film was double featured with Satanis, although that release framed the picture at 1.78.1 so the framing is just a tiny bit different here and the colors look noticeably better. There’s some print damage here and some color fading but we get a nice improvement over the older DVD release, again released by Something Weird Video (where it was paired with William Girdler’s Asylum Of Satan). Detail doesn’t hit reference quality but it’s not bad at all and the image is free of compression artifacts. A natural amount of film grain is present throughout, there are no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement. Skin tones look okay, if slightly pink in spots. The previous DVD was fullframe but the framing here looks fine, there aren’t a lot of missing heads or anything like that and given that it did play theaters it isn’t such a crazy assumption to make that it would have played in a widescreen aspect ratio.

    The feature gets a 24-bit English language DTS-HD Mono track with optional subtitles available in English only. Quality here is more or less on par with the video presentation – imperfect, but better than we’ve had before and not bad considering the elements. Dialogue is, for the most part, easy to understand and follow. There’s a bit of hiss here and there and the occasional snap, crackle and pop but nothing that should really upset anyone familiar with the material at all.

    Extras on the disc start off with a new commentary with queer film historian Elizabeth Purchell and AGFA’s Bret Berg. Purchell, who is also from Tampa, speaks about taking pride in some of the bizarre films that were made in Florida, and they then go on to talk about Leadfeather (the band that did the music for the movie) and their use of the 'Orchestron,' Joe Wiezycki's life and career and how he wound up making a feature, the very authentic Florida locations used in the movie, how Tampa has changed so much over the years, details on some of the different cast and crew members in the movie and who was part of the Tampa dinner theater scene, how the film compares to other Florida exploitation and genre filmmakers working around the same time, how the 'gay winking' in the movie begins once the YMCA logo shows up, attending the fortieth anniversary screening of the movie in the Tampa Theater, how the film's cult following has grown over the years, the film's distribution history and its unusual lack of a VHS release, some of the strange editorial decisions and rhythms that the film has on display, the fetish angles of both the 'tightie-whitie trapped in the woods' angles and the quicksand scenes as well as the severed head in a bag scene, odd similarities to Halloween II, the use of oatmeal in the quicksand scene why it doesn't work as well as it could have, the rough cut cast and crew screening that took place at a porno theater, the fashions on display and plenty more. It's a good talk - informative, amusing and interesting.

    Up next is a twenty-eight minute cast and crew reunion Q&A featurette that took place at the Tampa Theater on November 15th, 2014. They talk about what it was like filming the movie back in 1974, auditioning for their respective roles, thoughts on the script and the film's cult legacy, working with director Joe Wiezycki, filming the gang rape scene and how it was 'actually hilarious' being there when it was being shot, initial thoughts on the script and not seeing much of it before shooting the movie, having to buy up all the oatmeal in town to fill up the pit for the burying scene, memories of filming some of the film's key scenes, the film's spotty distribution and quite a bit more.

    The disc also contains a bonus TV special in the form of The Weird World Of Weird, transferred from the original Something Weird S-VHS master. Hosted by Ralph Story and featuring guest stars Linda Kaye Henning, Pamela Mason, Terry Moore, Criswell, Ann Francis, Jean Rejaunner and Tige Andrews this wonky slice seventies strangeness goes over the occult, psychic phenomena, witchcraft, the supernatural and astrology. It's seriously goofy stuff but also wildly entertaining in no small part because it is such a product of its day. Anton Levay pops up in this too, in footage culled from Satanis - The Devil's Mass, while Criswell gets a weird running gag where he predicts time and time again that the world will end in 1999. Made in 1970, this seemingly was never actually aired anywhere.

    We also get some bonus shorts that were also included on the previous Blu-ray release. The first of these is a really strange nine-minute short called Satan In Church. It’s a bizarre animated piece where a bunch of strangely illustrated black and white characters (nuns?) run into a church where a naked lady appears and haloed saints play cymbals. She lights a cigarette, blows a smoke ring and seemingly summons the devil, at which point it goes from weird to really weird. The second short is the fourteen-minute Boys Beware (3rd edition), wherein we learn how sexual predators don’t just go after young girls, but boys as well. We learn why boys shouldn’t hitchhike or talk to strangers, or accept rides from gun-toting weirdos that they don’t know. We also see a kid go to a party where adults are jamming down to records, smoking weed and drinking beers and learn why you should never, ever trust a little league coach.

    Additionally, AGFA carries over, from the previous release, a nice assortment of ‘torrid trailers from Lucifer's archive!’ In this section, we get vintage trailers for The Devil Times Five, The Devil Within Her, The Devil's Wedding Night Magdalena: Possessed By The Devil, and last but certainly not least, The Touch Of Satan.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included and we get some neat reversible cover art for this release as well.

    Satan’s Children – The Final Word:

    AGFA’s Blu-ray release of Satan’s Children brings this sordid slice of unrepentant sleaze back to Blu-ray in fine form. The presentation is are, given the elements available, and the extras are plentiful, interesting and fun. Recommended!
    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Satan's Children Blu-ray screen caps!

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