Saturday, October 16, 2010


Only once in a lifetime does a movie like this come about, a piece of cinematic art so bold and provocative that it dares to strip away at the hidebound morality of society and expose the bare truth for what it truly is in bold, uncompromising terms. A film that throws caution to the wind and shows the vacuity of modern day living while valiantly attempting to make the viewer re-examine his own personal values and everything he cherishes in his bourgeois complacency. A film rife with searing symbolism that will make you clench your teeth, fists and sphincter in a fit of pure anger as it drives its message of unbridled contempt for all that you hold near and dear to heart. And if you haven't fallen for all of this late-fifties MAD-inspired hoohah then you know what you're in store for with this particular piece of late-sixties exploito drive-in fodder directed by none other than one of than one of the greats of low-fidelity crankout, namely Al Adamson!

But really folks, I enjoyed SATAN'S SADISTS immensely, and nothing really has affected me like this since Arch Hall Jr.'s THE SADIST, a flicker that was made a good six years before this biker romp was even conceived! And yeah, a comparison between the two will show you just how much cinema had grown since the early-sixties of Hall's own desert murder spree...bloodspills galore and ultra-violent kicks had since entered into the vernacular and Adamson sure puts all of them to use in this top-notch film that makes most of the cycle flicks that have preceded it look like Aunt Petunia's home movies.

Trailer sez this is Russ Tamblyn (best known to you for a string of iffy fifties big budget hits, best known to me for throwing Venetia Stevenson away and into the palms of Don Everly) in his best role since WEST SIDE STORY, but considering how I didn't particularly care for his coolness dancing about like a corn-holed Tommy Tune in that one I'll beg to differ. Maybe HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (never saw THE FEMALE BUNCH, Tamblyn's previous effort also directed by Adamson), but arguments aside he is surprisingly potent here playing Anchor, the amoral leader of a psychotic California biker gang called the Satans. Besides raping and murdering the denizens of a lone cafe, this mottled bunch are on the hunt through the desert for the lone survivors of the conquest, an ex-Marine (and expert in the art of survival) and a cutesy waitress who are the only things keeping Anchor from avoiding the electric chair. The rest of the gang's pretty decadent in themselves from the one-eyed nutso to the acid freak and especially the Mohawked half-Indian who eventually gives Anchor a run for the money himself. Regina Carroll ("the future Mrs. Adamson") as Gina the biker mama stands out and I'm not just talking about in the tit department either since her entire aura is bound to have any red-blooded male audience revel in chants of hoo-hah!

But I don't wanna get ahead of myself (or give away too much of the plot and reveal such goodies as the stew scene or death by drowning via toilet bowl), but this fowl band remind me of those bikers you used to see on late-sixties sitcoms and variety shows like RED SKELTON back when the older generation wanted to dig their claws deep into the wild youth of the day (this is before the media became all uber-liberal and started heaping praise upon the youth freaks for all purposes hiding their evil intent), only you didn't see blood dribbling from eyes or brutal murders being laid upon Clem Kadiddlehopper now, didja? Really, Dr. Fredric Wertham shoulda been made to watch this movie CLOCKWORK ORANGE style to atone for all of his goody-two-shoes patronizing anti-violence moralistic bushwah that he inflicted on us for years on end!

Great cheap ambiance like THE SADIST too only magnified a few times with some curse words and sexy slop tossed in for those at the drive ins who came alone, if you know what I mean. The late-sixties California feeling and mountainous desert setting helps a lot as does the soundtrack music which, while not exactly in the scope of what this blog usually champions, adds to the 1969 feeling for those of you who might still have nostalgic pangs for that year. But in all this does not remind me that much of '69 (a year when I was more concerned with studying the evolution of comic strip style changes as well as late-fifties reruns) but the mid-seventies when films such as this, usually edited heavily, began making their way onto the weekend afternoon slot on your favorite local UHF station in those pre-infomercial days.

And what's really cool about SATAN'S SADISTS is that the low-budget and at times obvious editing errors and shortcuts make this all the better, in fact vastly improve on the overall grunge and grease than had this been a major studio affair. Fans of American International pictures wouldn't mind giving this one an eyeballing especially if they had been hotcha on the late-sixties/early-seventies biker flick trend that seemed to hit its peak with EASY RIDER.

In case you care, here's the trailer---betcha wanna watch this movie right now, eh?:

Well, actually you can because the entire shebang is now online and ripe for viewing!!! Don't say I don't do anything crucial for you:

GERMAN OAK CD (Flashback)

Gotta admit that a lot of the self-issued krautrock albums that had sprung up in the early-seventies really aren't as up to snuff as one woulda thought given the reams of Can and Amon Duuls to swipe ideas from. More than a few of these disques (recently reissued for the Cee-Dee generation) aren't worth the $15+ many an avid fan is more than willing to dish out. There are a few exceptions...Siloah and Ainigma amongst 'em, but for every one of those there must be a dozen or so Doms (not the Josef Vondruska group!) lurking about. You gotta be careful these days, especially with dealers touting such-and-such as being a real top flight kraut garage rocker which turns out to be about as punky as Joys of Cooking!

Being from Dusseldorf I was hoping that German Oak would have had some of that Neu! feel. At least the beat is Motorik, but not much else. And having been turned off by their collection of outtakes (some of which I believe also appear here as "bonus tracks") I wondered why in fact I ordered this in the first place. Pure desperation is why.

Actually some of this does stimulate. Opening and closing the LP proper are a few interesting organ-laden instrumental passages which sound total Kongress. Kongress enough to the point where I could see Geofrey Crozier doing his magick to this dark drone on the stage of Max's Kansas City. The rest sounds rather noodling, not offensive in any way, but leaden and not going anywhere. Of the bonus cuts there's more of the same, one with Hitler speeches which didn't work for John Fahey and don't work here, and another with some especially distorted organ which I could have used more of. Nice effort, but overall lacking the important elements that made things like EGE BAMYASI so good that even English critics like Ian MacDonald were calling Can the logical followup to the late-sixties Velvets/Detroit upheaval.


Anonymous said...

Had to laugh at the heading "Satan's Sadists starring Larry Tamblyn". Larry is the brother of Russ Tamblyn, the real star of this movie. Larry is the lead singer of the rock group the Standells.

Christopher said...

OK you can stop laughing. Just corrected the obviously minor faux pas, one which would be natural for a scatterbrained garageophile like myself to make especially since I don't always proofread my work as carefully as I should (as the amount of "scrubbing" that goes on with this blog would attest to).

unimportant said...

I've heard that German Oak album called "the greatest krautrock album ever" by some people, maybe because of its relative rarity (it's sort of a joke how certain collectors populate their "favorites" lists with only the most obscure stuff, not necessarily the best stuff, and as soon as something gets reissued they have to remove it from the list, lest they look too common.) When Radioactive reissued that album a few years ago I grabbed it and enjoyed it, but haven't listened to it much since. It's a nice effort, I like the echoey bomb-shelter sound, but you're right that most of it is pretty leaden and aimless.