Nude for Satan (1974)

In the '70s, Italian filmmakers had something of a love affair with the haunted house story. If the movies were to be believed, you couldn't drive more than a few miles in the European countryside without your car breaking down, forcing you to ask for shelter in the nearest spooky castle. These castles, naturally, were staffed by the creepiest assortment of characters imaginable, and the town demon (or occasionally, Satan himself) was on hand to consume the souls of those hapless enough to stay the night.

Nude for Satan is one of the more overtly exploitive examples of the subgenre; its lead actress (Rita Calderoni) goes prancing naked through the opening credits, which more or less sets the pace for the film. Don't go scrambling for the pause button just yet, however – you'll be seeing lots more of her before the film is through. About every five minutes, in fact. Satan's powers in this film seem mostly geared towards making garments disappear, which is as worthy a use of infernal magic as any, I suppose.

Stelio Candelli is Dr Benson, who comes across the scene of a car accident in the middle of the night. Actually, it's not so much of an accident as it is a car stalled by the side of the road, with the door thrown open and its occupant hanging out. (Never mind the tire that goes bouncing past Benson from off-screen!) That occupant is Susan (Calderoni), and when Benson takes her to the nearest shelter (a creepy castle!), things really start to get weird. Benson, who leaves Susan in the car while he knocks on the castle door, is greeted by Susan's evil twin from the past. Susan awakes in the morning, just in time for a quick shower, a demon lesbian encounter, and the chance to hang out with Benson's evil twin. Confused yet? Don't worry, you will be. No points for figuring out Satan's "weakness" early on in the film. Holy telegraph, Batman!

If you've seen The Devil's Nightmare or any number of similar budget Italian horror flicks, you've seen this, although perhaps without quite so much nudity. If you haven't seen any films of this ilk, you might as well start with this one. It has enough, er, "bonus" material to keep you distracted from the boring mystical imagery and surrealistic filler. It's fitting that the opening credits run over the hood of a vintage VW Beetle, because the car and the film have much in common: they're cheap, functional, and have cult followings that far outweigh their actual worth. Me, I'm waiting for the Christmastime sequel: Nude for Santa.

Nude for Satan probably looked great in theaters, but time hasn't been kind and the print here has a few problems. There's a lot of speckling and some occasional hiss and pop on the soundtrack, although since I doubt anyone did much in the way of preservation work for this film, it looks and sounds quite a bit better than other films from the period. A rather nice bonus is the fact that both the English and Italian soundtracks are included, and there are English subtitles if you want them. The English translations on the soundtrack and subtitles are rather different, so you might gain a bit of amusement value by playing the English language track simultaneously with the subtitles.

There are a couple of trailers on the disc, as well as a "photo gallery," although the production stills are simply frame grabs from the film. The publicity stills are a bit more interesting, especially if Italian movie posters are your thing.

Chris Holland, 11/13/2002