Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beyond Redemption

THE REDEEMER (Son of Satan) has been given a solidly authored Blu by Code Red. There's no menu, and the print is scratched to shit in parts, but considering what a train wreck the movie is, the print damage actually enhances the experience: watching it close-up on my 55" TV was like staring at a fouled-up print at an old third-run grindhouse.

Almost every part in this cinematic hodgepodge of influences is played badly; from the evil priest who targets adults playing kids at a high school reunion to the "kids" themselves, director Constantine S. Gochis's handling of the talent is appalling and consistently miscalculated.

The film attempts to tell a not-terribly-original-but-ludicrous story of a nutty pastor seeking redemption by dressing up in disguise and killing kids at their high school reunion. Not even the reunion makes sense because almost nobody shows, and the school has been closed for years. The nutty pastor also sports a second thumb, an obvious prosthetic, that he is trying to get rid of. In one sequence, a schoolboy with a bowl haircut is seen sporting the thumb. The thumb's significance is never explained.

Watching a film that is attempting to capitalize on the success of quality cinema like THE OMEN, but has no talent behind it, is actually mildly enjoyable. As an audience, we're served up one stupid, incompetent scene after another, and some of them are so stupid they're surreal. We get a kill-crazy clown puppet on strings, a drowning in a bathroom sink, a spear that falls into a skull, and a shooting in the woods by a fat man sporting a wig and fake mustache –– for no discernible reason.

The film is copyrighted 1978, and certainly looks it, but, strangely enough, it has elements of films that would be released several years later such as FEAR NO EVIL, LEMORA:A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL, XTRO, COMMUNION, and ALICE SWEET ALICE. Of course, it doesn't come within a hundred miles of besting any of these movies, but it somehow manages to spit out bits and pieces that, consciously or unconsciously, got picked up and became part of horror culture years later.

The Code Red sleeve has some honest, amusing quotes about the movie:

"Guilty of the same gaping plot holes and cardboard characterizations as any other... nothing is ever adequately developed or explained, so the film becomes memorable for its opacity alone."
-- Fred Beldin, Allmovies.com

Beldin also accuses the film of being "a silly, sanctimonious slasher..."

He's not wrong.

Still, there's something perverse about this nonsense being on BluRay, and being marketed for its more shitful aspects.

It's worth adding to your BluRay sub-section marked "cinematic crud".

Did Siskel and Ebert give the film their thumbs-up? I seriously doubt it.

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