The Witching Hour – Rediscovering ‘Satan’s Slave’ (UK 1976 – 86 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - May 28, 2015
The Witching Hour – Rediscovering ‘Satan’s Slave’ (UK 1976 – 86 mins)

Cult British director Norman J. Warren made a handful of low budget sci-fi horrors in the early 1980’s, including ‘Prey’ and the ‘Alien’ rip-off ‘Inseminoid’ (both ’81). Back in the 70’s however, he made a couple of pretty good witch related flicks; ‘Terror’ (’78) and the entertaining Devil cult offering ‘Satan’s Slave’ (’76), a sleazy chiller that’s ideal for a late night viewing.

After her parents are killed in a mysterious car crash, young Catherine Yorke (Candace Glendenning) is sent to live with her oddball Uncle; Alexander (Michael Gough) at his rambling country estate. Catherine later discovers that Alexander is in fact a cult leader who plans to enlist his sadistic son Stephen (Martin Potter) in aiding him in to use Catherine as a sacrifice in order to bring back their ancestor, a witch who was burned at the stake a couple of centuries ago.

Although there is no great mystery to be found in ‘Satan’s Slave , it’s fairly atmospheric and has some nice set pieces. It does drag in places with a needless love story between the two cousins, and the odd dream sequence thrown in. There’s ample nudity on show and other moments of titillation, especially in the much-censored sacrifice scenes. It doesn’t skimp on the red stuff either, with plenty of blood on show including a gory eye-stabbing and a grisly suicide from the top of a tower block. There’s also a bit of a twist at the end that suggests that somebody much closer to Catherine may have been in on the plot to sacrifice her.

Gorgeous Candace Glendenning does a good job as the damsel in distress, and the part was a notch up from her previous fright flicks ‘Tower of Evil’ and ‘The Flesh and Blood Show’ (both ’72). Genre veteran Michael Gough lent the movie some gravitas and was always good value in these types of movies, most notably 1959’s excellent ‘Horrors of the Black Museum’. Today Gough is probably remembered most as the butler Alfred Pennyworth in four ‘Batman’ movies from 1989 to 1997. Creepy looking Martin Potter was suitably sinister as Gough’s son Stephen, and had just finished playing Robin Hood on television, and would soon be encountering Koo Stark in the controversial costumer ‘Cruel Passion’ (’77).

Journalist and screenwriter David McGillivray gave himself a cameo as a priest and would go on to write Warren’s other ‘opus’ ‘Terror’ (’78). McGillivray was most associated with his work with Pete Walker at the time, having written some of his best features, including ‘Frightmare’ and ‘House of Whipcord’ (both ’74).

A suburban slice of satanic mayhem, ‘Satan’s Slave’ is a decent exploiter, though it’s overall appeal may be limited to fans of British Seventies horrors only, considering there were more polished movies like ‘Carrie’ being produced overseas at the time. Still, I enjoyed it and there was enough going on to keep me interested, with Candace Glendenning lovely to look at and Michael Gough hamming it up wonderfully, especially in the movie’s ritualistic climax. Just don’t expect a happy ending!

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *