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Coming from a huge fan of the trashy, 1970s, low-budget, motorcycle
gang, genre, my comment may be slightly biased. Being a fan of the
wonderful Al Adamson might be too much as well. However, as far as
sleazy 70s biker flics go, "Satan's Sadists" is indeed one of the
better ones. Russ Tamblyn outdoes himself as the whacked out, sadistic
leader of the group. His performance is truly fun to watch and he plays
the villainous role to the max. The soundtrack is also tons of fun with
some memorable "acid" tunes that should have you saying "Wow man!"
every 20 minutes or so.
It's a pretty violent entry to the biker genre, but few of them are really "sugary-sweet". "Sadists" however, is maybe a bit above the rest with some real nastiness committed by the title group. For something a little less shocking, "Easy Rider" would be a better choice or even "Hell's Angels On Wheels".
Fans of schlock director Al Adamson have to see/own this one. It's a biker "classic" and deserves high ranking in biker film "Top Tens" right alongside "Northville Cemetery Massacre", "The Glory Stompers" and "The Savage Seven". Enjoy!
Al Adamson is known for making horrendously bad movies (which I love),
mostly biker action flicks or cheesy horror pics. "Satan's Sadists" is a
nice departure from the predictably bad premises usually found in biker
Adamson's regular cast comes along for the ride (Robert Dix, Russ Tamblyn, Regina Carrol, Gary Kent, Greydon Clark, etc.) and delivers all they can. Unfortunately, Regina Carrol isn't given very much to do and since she's one of my favorite psychotronic actresses, she deserves more. Tamblyn is terrifically sadistic and would continue in a similar role in "Dracula vs. Frankenstein". Kent is a hollow hero (he has a cameo in "Dracula vs. Frankenstein") and Jackie Taylor is an okay heroine. Clark is fantastic as Acid, the pothead biker who wants nothing more than to get stoned. He was ALSO in "Dracula vs. Frankenstein". Dix is Willie, the newest member of the biker gang, and is not too memorable. John "Bud" Cardos is Firewater, the mohawked biker, and he is very good.
Adamson fans will appreciate the hard work put into this film, but "outsiders" will consider it boring, cheap, and dated. Instead, I find it highly entertaining, action-packed, and one of the best biker films ever made. Still, take caution. If you've never seen an Adamson film before, this is probably where you should start. If you're only familiar with Adamson's VERY bad horror films, try this on for size. His real talent was in making action films. A sidenote: Jackie Taylor later changed her name to Jacqueline Cole and starred in "Satan's Cheerleaders" and MST3K fan favorite "Angels Revenge/Brigade". She's almost unrecognizable under disgustingly large fake eyelashes, overdone lipstick, and a huge bouffant hairdo, but her unmistakable voice and face is there. IMDB won't accept my information about Jackie Taylor (III) also being Jacqueline Cole, but the fans should know!
Al Adamson's film is so low-budget and the actors( with a few minor exceptions) are so obscure, that this grade Z biker-flick is brutally realistic. Made during a time of political as well as social conflict, Adamson strives to show the "hopelessness" of an entire generation "lost" as a result of the war in Viet-Nam. Russ Tamblyn's horrifying role as the demented leader of the gang is gut wrenching. It's one of his most brutal and meatiest roles. Gary Kent shines as the hero of the story. And as usual, veteran character actor Scott Brandy gives a sturdy performance. To the naked eye this may simply seem as a "schlock"- drive-in biker- quickie film. But, a deeper study finds a symbolic film with nerve-shattering reality. It's Al Adamson at his finest.
There are several things this picture cannot overcome with its very low
budget: the pacing is very slow at points, photography is almost
amateurish in places (blown up from 16mm, I think), there's filler -
too many shots of motorcycle riders moving on the freeway, and lousy
dialog/acting. But, there's enough entertainment value for 3 stars from
me. The credits song, 'I Was Born Mean...' is just super. Then you have
star Tamblyn, the biker leader, overacting or subverting his persona,
depending on how you look at it. He makes this weird speech a third of
the way in (famous to people familiar with the flic) about how peaceful
hippies are persecuted by cops; this is how he justifies his murderous
actions (yes, I do this for the hippies, since they're too peaceful to
do it). Scott Brady is a cop on vacation and the object of Tamblyn's
antagonism. It doesn't explain why Tamblyn kills 3 young women later -
what do they have to do with it? He giggles like a madman as even his
own fellow biker (Cardos) rebels against such pointless murder.
Is Tamblyn just playing a joke on the audience? Here I am, he seems to be implying, once a nice boy in Hollywood movies. Look at me doing all this crazy stuff! I am one crazy dude. The 2nd half of the pic is all in the bleak desert, with the various surviving characters running about. There are no other police or establishment figures intruding; it's mentioned in the beginning how desolate the area is, that you can go 200 miles(!) without seeing another person. Greydon Clark is amusing as another biker who lives to get stoned on acid or LSD; his goal is to go on a one-way trip. And this was Regina Carrol's first big role, as a biker momma. Some of her dialog, as mentioned, is atrociously dated and poorly delivered besides; pining for Tamblyn, she asks another biker, "doesn't he know I dig him?" So what were they all rebelling against, these lowlife bikers? It's anyone's guess. Like in other such pictures, they just looked bored with everything and spewed moronic rationales out of their dirty little mouths - but the filmmakers put them there. Next was "Dracula vs.Frankenstein" - a reworked biker tale.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
** ACH, CAPTAIN, DA SPOILERS!! **
In spite of what another comment advised, I do prefer Adamson's cheesy horror pics to his action films. There's more fun stuff to look at.
However, as a biker film fan, I had to check out this joint. Not much really happens in this film, plotwise. It's pretty much bikers come to town, bikers menace and kill nice people, and everyone battles to the death until the only ones left standing are our hero and heroine, walking into the sunset.
This was all filmed in the desert around Palm Springs (Adamson's home until his untimely passing), and frankly, the scenery is very boring and hard to look at. A good bulk of the early film takes place in a lonely roadside cafe. That setting at least gives the bad guys a semi-interesting location and some chance to pick up objects and hit people with them.
The last half of the movie involves our hero (ex-Marine from Vietnam)and heroine (plucky local waitress who wants a husband) running around these barren rocky desert canyons that all look the same, ducking into caves trying to avoid "Anchor" the head psycho biker (Russ Tamblyn) and his murderous cohorts. (Isn't this the same place where EEGAH lived?) About the only interesting twist is Regina Carrol's "Thelma and Louise" impression.
I guess you could look at this as some sort of allegory for the nation and its torments during the heinous late 1960's, bla, bla, bla, but I don't think so. It's just an excuse for good old action and violence. But how is the action and violence? Good enough. If you're just looking for a sick twisted wild ride into sociopathic torment, this film will satisfy. But it's no lost classic or anything. It's not even the best biker film.
This film is a kind of guilty pleasure of mine. It's not that good, but
it definitely delivers on the drive-in schlock that made the late 60s
and early 70s exploitation films fun. The cast was mostly unknown at
the time (most of them still are) with the exception of Russ Tamblyn
(still can't get plum roles like in West Side Story). I wouldn't say
that it's a true biker film, but it's still pretty wild.
The Sadists stop at a gas station/diner in the middle of nowhere in Death Valley. At this diner there is the old man who runs it, a waitress, a middle age couple on vacation, and an ex-marine who is traveling to California. The gang decides to have a little fun at the diner, but things go sour when the old man tells them to leave. They take it badly and go on to kill everyone except the marine and waitress. The marine kills two of the gang, and then he and the waitress escape into the desert. Of course, the gang chases them down because they don't want any witnesses.
The acting wasn't great, but it sufficed for a low budget biker film. The bikers, of course, were stereotypes of the typical members of biker gangs at the time. There's the sadistic leader (Tamblyn), the acid freak (cleaverly nicknamed acid, those zany bikers), the tough guy, the sex fiend, and leader's strung out girlfriend. Most of these characters were pretty one dimensional, but you really don't need to know much more about them anyway. The plot of the film keeps moving at a decent pace, so I can't find too much of a problem with it. Of course there are some psychedelic scenes (it was the 60s after all) and some interesting deaths. Overall, it wasn't great, but it suffices as an exploitation film and if you get into it it is kind of fun.
MST3K fans look out for the teacher in "Angel's Revenge" as the waitress, and Acid (Greydon Clark, the director of "Angel's Revenge").
SATAN'S SADISTS has to come down in history as THE Al Adamson masterpiece. It also comes down as more of the same. With the dialogue so bland, it speaks for some stronger profanity coming out of its mouth. Take my word and forget this thing if you hate all the crappy biker movies of the past thirty years. But it has a story, and a fair reference to the Greydon "Acid" Clark 80s film SKINHEADS. By the way, Clark did act before serving time as a successful director of drive-in filmfare including SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS, THE HI-RIDERS, and JOYSTICKS. Die-hard biker film loonies will enjoy it. The rest of you, hit the road!
Adamson has made a movie that defines exploitation. It is the achetype of the biker flick...these guys are no "Dennis Hopper Hippie" types, there are mean rotten nasty sons-of-bitches. Seeing Russ Tamblin as a cold hearted killer is worth the price of admission alone! Judged in its own genre (the no-budget drive in flick) this movie is absolutely one of the best. And one of the greatest soundtracks I have heard. The theme song is GREAT "from the tiiiiime...I was Booorn, I was killin'....killin' for Satan...oh yeah...."
In order to get any enjoyment or entertainment, or just dumb-fun in a
B-movie (if that) kind of way, like Satan's Sadists (not
inappropriately released on DVD in some circles by Troma), is to take
into context that it was, of course, the late 60's, and it remains in
the sub-genre that is the biker-movie. I almost hesitate to slap the
label 'exploitation flick' on it because one would have to take
completely into mind what exploitation entails. Maybe there were many
(maybe mostly) good-hearted bikers like the ones in Easy Rider that
wanted nothing more than to get stoned and ride their wheels without
too much trouble. But that is in a particular kind of movie that tries
(and succeeds) to rise above the expectations of the enclave of biker
movies. For the most part, as with Satan's Sadists and many others, a
biker gang with a cool sounding name goes into a town, bothers the
habitants to a point of total suspense and shock, and the filmmaker may
or may not try to dig a little under the surface, go beyond the
expectations up to a point.
One of the things that makes Satan's Sadists work, up to a point, is that producer/director Adamson usually doesn't mistake what it is that he's making. A film like this, when it played (where and if of course being part in question), would just be used as fodder for make-out sections and beer contests for those in the cars at the drive-ins, just good enough to not make anyone start chucking things at the screen. Adamson brings forth all the ideal elements- a gang of six (including the perennial grungy/sexy female) with attitude braced in their eyes and sunglasses, the older straight-laced couple, the good-looking younger couple, and plenty of room for tracking, driving shots of bikes. The gang here of the title run into a cop and his wife, a waitress, another young guy and the owner of a small pit stop in the middle of the California desert.
Basically, describing the plot would be moot; say enough that it is as much of a usual biker film as it is a revenge picture (and usually the two go one in the same with these movies). To Adamson's credit, given a group of non-professional actors (or B/C/D movie actors) that are hit or miss (the bikers are all alright, as are the cop and his wife, but some of the other parts of the younger women are pretty bad), he tends to push some of the boundaries of what can be done within the framework of the structure. We have an idea of what will go on, of course, after a crucial moment in the film, but there are little things, like when the bikes brake-down in the desert, or when other minor female characters are introduced all of a sudden in the desert, or the impromptu dance scene in the restaurant (though that is a staple in many of these flicks, a cool one at that). It's when Adamson sometimes kids himself with what he's doing that it steers away, like a little mini-speech given by the groups leader about 'the man' versus the 'love' generation before a certain murder takes place. And the music, while with a cool opening number, is draining aside from an interesting drum solo here and there.
I wouldn't say to start with Satan's Sadists if you're just starting to get into these kinds of films, as it is relatively hard to find and Adamson, while not without his cult fan-base, was unknown to me before seeing the film and really does nothing more than make your standard genre movie. However it's not to say that within the 'standards' there aren't some creative flourishes. I liked how there was always the one character clinging onto getting stoned and tripped whilst the others went on with their tough business, who even provides a couple of laughs. And where the film heads to is exciting on the most primitive, fast-food sort of level. There are certainly 'better' movies out there, probably with better acting and better use of music and locations. But at least in Adamson there is a little experimentation and touches of daring in his style; little insert close-ups and zooms/pans are interesting, and at times a certain zaniness tries to work its way into the steady shots. If a biker picture, in all of its likely exploitive tendencies and cardboard psychology, is more about attitude and using what is there within the limitations, Satan's Sadists is not bad, though not great.
The title bunch are a particularly odious motorcycle gang in this, producer / director Al Adamsons' contribution to the then popular cycle of biker films. Adamson does tend to take a lot of flak for his somewhat less than slick low budget productions, but this is actually one of his better efforts. It benefits from a very enjoyable gathering of B movie regulars, both new (at the time) and old. Russ Tamblyn stars as cheerful psycho Anchor, leader of this gang. Anchor and company terrorize the customers at a diner / service station, and end up pursuing some of them into the remote California wilderness. This movie lets you know right off the bat just how depraved its antagonists are, as they help themselves to an unwilling woman and then send her, her boyfriend, and their car over the edge of a cliff. When they happen upon a group of college age gals out in the desert, they drug them and have their way with them. They just can't get their comeuppance soon enough. Also among the cast are Scott Brady as weary cop Charlie, Kent Taylor as the diner proprietor Lew, Regina Carrol (Adamsons' real life partner) as biker mama Gina, Jacqueline Cole as comely waitress Tracy, Gary Kent as nice guy former soldier Johnny, and John 'Bud' Cardos, Robert Dix, Greydon Clark (who himself became a director years later), William Bonner, and Bobby Clark as the gang. Carrols' slutty dance number inside the diner rates as a highlight, as do the fight sequences between Tamblyn & Cardos and Kent & Cardos. The soundtrack is quite good, with Harley Hatcher composing both the songs and the score. The prolific Gary Graver serves as both the editor and cinematographer (assisted in the latter capacity by an uncredited Vilmos Zsigmond). The makeup artist is a young Susan Arnold (daughter of the great sci-fi director Jack Arnold), who went on to great success as a casting director and, eventually, a producer. But it's really Tamblyns' scenery devouring performance that makes this worth seeing; he even came up with a monologue on his own. As far as biker films go, this definitely has to be one of the trashiest ones ever made, and it's nothing if not amusing for its entire 87 minute running time. It's rough, crude, and suitably rousing, and the sleaze just oozes off of the screen. Seven out of 10.
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