Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Satan's Blade (1984)

SATAN'S BLADE

WRITERS: Screenplay by Thomas Cue
    Original story by L. Scott Castillo, Jr.

DIRECTOR: L. Scott Castillo, Jr.

STARRING: Tom Bongiorno as Tony
    Stephanie Leigh Steel as Stephanie
    Thomas Cue as Al
    Elisa R. Malinovitz as Lisa
    Ski Mark Ford as Ski/George
    Janeen Lowe as Lil

QUICK CUT: A whole lotta people go up into the woods to rent some cabins and put in a lot of time fishing.

THE MORGUE

    Tony - A nice guy, especially for a lawyer, who has been neglecting his wife, and hopes this week in the woods will help matters.

    Al - Tony's best friend, and he sure does love to eat!

    Lisa - Tony's wife, who is struggling to keep their marriage together, since she still lives her husband.

    Lil - Al's wife, Lisa's friend, and always there for her.  Unless she's skiing.

    Stephanie - A woman that the group runs into and is staying at the cabin next to theirs.  And she spends the weekend flirting with Tony.

 Not much use without Satan's fork and Satan's spoon.

Not much use without Satan's fork and Satan's spoon.

TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back Triskelions, I hope you're enjoying your Labor Day weekend!  I still have work to do myself, in this very review.  And I am kicking off September with a little known slasher classic from the 80s, called Satan's Blade.  This movie came to my attention while listening to The Podcast Under the Stairs as a movie that almost made their cut for their discussion on the best horror movies of 1984.  It sounded intriguing enough, so I decided to check it out.  So here we are!

The movie opens up with a bank closing but a few stragglers rush in to do some business and oh, they have guns.  Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!

We watch as they rob the place, and are generally horrible to the bank tellers, while the movie goes way out of its way to never show the robbers in full.  That's because after their murderous mayhem in town, they hide out in a cabin, and it is revealed...they are a pair of women!  That's actually a pretty cool reveal, but the framing of it was a bit forced.

 Do the Shadow Shuffle!

Do the Shadow Shuffle!

The girls stash their loot in one of the vents in the cabin, and we see a shadowy figure outside, while they talk about waiting for George.  The ladies get comfortable, take a shower, and one of the girls decides you know what, if we cut George out of this, two shares of money is bigger than three!  But then she has the even more brilliant idea of hey, one share is even better, and kills the other girl!

As Ruth tries to dispose of her partner's body, the shadowy figure outside decides to come in, and stabs Ruth right in the back.  SYMBOLISM!

We jump cut to Don and Ski, the longtime cop who investigated similar crimes years ago, and the rookie who just started a few months ago.  They are checking out reports of shots being fired, and enter the cabin to find the two women laid out on the stairs.  Oh, and a strange symbol painted on the wall in blood.

 Damn kids scribbling on the walls

Damn kids scribbling on the walls

After that, we cut to the next day, following a car driving along the road, with some voiceover, followed by the exact same shot with a van and more voiceover.  Both vehicles stop at the main office for the park, try and get their keys to the cabins, and oh, the lady behind the counter fills us in on some local legends.

The two groups are two married couples, and a group of five girls looking for a ski holiday weekend.  The couples had a reservation, and the girls ask if there's any vacancies, and oh hey!  There sure is one!

Because yeah, LET'S JUST STAY AT THE MURDER CABIN.

 Meet your canon fodder for the movie.

Meet your canon fodder for the movie.

So we get to hear about a time long ago, before anyone lived up there, except for a lone man and his family.  But people moved in, pushed them out, and he moved higher and higher up the mountain, until he had no place to go.  So he fought back against the encroachment of society, and he prayed to the gods for help...but instead, the darkness responded and sent him a knife to take out his enemies.  And his family.  Oops.

So yeah!  We have a local legend of a monster who lives in the lake and stalks anyone who comes here, a murder that happened JUST LAST NIGHT, and here, have the cabin that was the crime scene!  That is a WHOLE lotta NOPE right there.

But no, the girls decide to stay because 'it sounds exciting!'.  Wow yeah, you deserve what's coming to you.

 CAP: Philip Jennings on vacation with his totally American and not at all Russian family.

CAP: Philip Jennings on vacation with his totally American and not at all Russian family.

You know what we need more scenes of?  Driving along the road to the cabin!  But after that, the groups settle into their cabins, one of which STILL HAS A TELLTALE BLOODSTAIN ON THE WALL.  Because it was found just that morning.  I'm surprised there aren't outlines on the stairs where the bodies were!

While the ladies get settled in, the two guys decided to leave the women to their work, and go talk to a guy down by the lake who looks like discount Charles Bronson.  Mmm, early 80s sexism.

Over at the group of ladies, they talk about how cute the guys were, and how Stephanie was flirting with them, and oh gosh, there is NOTHING wrong with just LOOKING at married men!  Well sure, if that is all you're doing but...

 Hey pally, if you're here for the fish...no dice!

Hey pally, if you're here for the fish...no dice!

The guys talk with the old man by the lake, and the only noteworthy thing there is that he gives them a bit more backstory about earlier murders a decade or two ago, in the exact same cabin.

We are really spending a lot of time getting to know the characters, which I do like, but it feels like after that thrilling opening, the pace has ground to a halt.  We've got unpacking, fishing, and walking to and fro and zzzz.

The womenfolk head to bed, and the guys stay up to get shitfaced and celebrate Tony passing the bar, while saying, "Now the good times are about to begin!"  THEY BETTER!

My big problem is the balance between the groups.  We spend a LOT of time with the drunken guys, and really not much time with the group of five women.  I never fully get their names, and since they are the main victims, eventually, they really could've given us more on them, besides Stephanie the homewrecker.  Also, spending time more with the other group, would've helped make things less dull.

But wait!  Suddenly we cut over to the women's murder cabin, where more murder is happening!  A monstrous figure is shambling about stabbing all the girls!  If you're gonna stay at the murder cabin, you best expect murders!

And wouldn't you know it?  This scene to keep things interesting in the middle of act two is really just there to do just that, because IT WAS ALL A DREAM.  Aargh.

Fortunately, one of the girls goes back to bed, but sees something out the window that growls at her.  So she screams, wakes everyone up, and it's fun time in nighties, everyone!

 Hello my name is Peachfuzz! I might look like I'll eat you up! But I'm as friendly as a rabbit! And I make a very good friend!

Hello my name is Peachfuzz!
I might look like I'll eat you up!
But I'm as friendly as a rabbit!
And I make a very good friend!

They scream and run around as girls did in 80s movies, and they open the door to let the monster in.  Sigh.  But he slips on the ice, revealing it's Al and Tony just drunkenly giving them a fright.  But the ladies pounce all over them and roll around in the snow.  In their bedclothes.  *shiver*

Al and his wife go off to ski, and Tony tries to get Lisa to go fishing with him, but after seeing the girls on top of him last night, she wants nothing to do with her husband.  So she sits in the cabin alone, while he goes to have fun.

But don't worry, Tony's not alone, because Stephanie there's nothing wrong with looking comes down to keep him company.

 There's nothing wrong with kissing married men!

There's nothing wrong with kissing married men!

After Tony shoots her down, which good for him! they decide to just be friends, and eventually he heads back to the cabin, while she goes off for a walk.  A long walk.  She spends the rest of her time in the movie walking, really.  Is her heart THAT crushed that she couldn't woo away a married man?

Now, the scenery sure is nice, and I do like seeing it, but that, on top of being taught how to fish, and Lisa and Lil talking about her marital difficulties sure does make this second act lag.

We continue spinning our wheels, as Stephanie sits on a tree stump, and Tony and Lisa head off to meet the other two at the restaurant in town, with a great line...

"Sure we should walk with all the strange things going on?"  "I wouldn't worry, no killer in his right mind would go out on a night like this!"  Uhhh...there's something y'all need to know about killers and their mental state.

 The entire middle third of this movie, summed up in a single image.

The entire middle third of this movie, summed up in a single image.

The good news is, this pretty much marks the end of the second act, and the stabby man makes a much much MUUUCH needed return to the plot.  And he makes up for lost time, because the movie launches into mayhem from this point onward

Our murderer, who once again the movie is going out if its way to not show whatsoever, returns to the Murder Cabin, because who could have guessed that staying at a Murder Cabin where two previous events of murderousness have occurred, would lead to still more murder?

He finds one of the girls in the kitchen doing dishes, shoves her head into the sink, drowning her, until the water turns red.  ...Wait, where does the blood come from if she was drowned?

 I don't think she's gonna say anything...

I don't think she's gonna say anything...

After finishing off one girl, he stalks upstairs and gets another marked in the back, leaving her to bleed out on her bed.

He then goes to the last room where the final two girls are sitting and gossiping and are so totally oblivious to this figure walking into their room and right up next to them.

Unsurprisingly, he takes them out pretty quickly and handily with the Satan's Blade.

The couples return to their cabin just in time, because Stephanie has stopped stumpwatching and decided to come home finding all her friends dead.

She screams out, getting the attention of her neighbours, and everyone realises in an instant they're in a horror movie upon discovering four dead bodies all at once.

 CAP: Remember kids, always leave your meat to rest after preparing it.

CAP: Remember kids, always leave your meat to rest after preparing it.

The menfolk return from the crime scene to grab the women and get out of there, an entirely sensible plan, but their car tires have all been slashed.  So they decide to wait for the cops to arrive.  Good luck with that!

Al wants to run off through the woods, because that's not what the killer expects them to do.  And they also drop in the line, "We can't drag three women through the forest at night!"  Have I mentioned the sexism?

So he decides to go off on his own, with his wife joining in, leaving Tony and Lisa to watch over Stephanie.  Tony comforts his wife by saying they have to just pray to God they make it.  A clue: they do not.

We watch as the two trudge through the snow, and over a creek and through the woods and...look.  If you are trying to get away from a killer.  And get back to town to get help...why would you not largely STICK TO THE ROADS especially in an area you are completely unfamiliar with?  In the winter!!  I know it might be shorter, and maybe cut through the trees around a corner to shave some time off, but going like this through the snow is ludicrous.

It's ultimately a moot point though, since the killer finds the two and makes short work of them.

 Grandma, it's me, Anastasia!

Grandma, it's me, Anastasia!

Back inside, Lisa is freaking out, and we spend a LOT of time watching Tony build a fire in the fireplace, and make a torch.  Editing, people!  It's your friend.

Tony tries to comfort his wife by telling her that so long as he is alive, nothing will happen to her.  Man, these people REALLY need to stop saying things.

Because the killer shows up, starts breaking windows, and tries pushing through the door they barricaded.  Tony gets nicked in the arm, and the killer busts in.

Lisa rushes upstairs to get Stephanie, but she's somehow disappeared, while Tony and the killer struggle downstairs, culminating in Tony getting killed.

 Little bunny Foofoo, hoppin' through the forest...

Little bunny Foofoo, hoppin' through the forest...

With his work done down there, the killer makes his way upstairs to finish off Lisa, which we see from Stephanie's perspective, hiding under the bed.

She waits for a bit to give the killer some time to leave, and we see as he finds the stashed money from the bank robbery, and runs off with it.

The girl makes her way out of the cabin and finds Ski at his car, calling in the latest murders.  Whew, I guess he was just up there checking on the cabin like they said they would, and Stephanie sure is glad to see a cop!

BUT OH NO SURPRISE TWIST! Ski has the Satan's Blade in his hand, and stabs her with it!  And I'm gonna level with you folks, this is a decent twist.  And bonus surprise, there actually ARE a few hints here and there.  They're really vague though, so you gotta work for it.

 Poker?  I hardly knew 'im!

Poker?  I hardly knew 'im!

Stephanie wants to ask why, and Ski stammers out about how he wanted the money, and no one was supposed to get hurt.  And we learn that he is not Merv Griffin, his real name is George.  Also, he makes a great transition from the stammering Ski, struggling to maintain control, and shifting over to the mountain man demon spirit that wants to protect his home, from the legends.

The girl runs off to the cabin again, but she gets chased and stabbed some more, finishing her off.

We are pretty much done here, save for George washing off the knife, throwing it into the lake, except the demon spirit doesn't want it, so returns it to the trees for someone else to find later, bookending with the start of the movie.

 Stop throwing your trash in my lake!!

Stop throwing your trash in my lake!!

TRISK ASSESSMENT

Video: It looks solid enough, for the budget and time period.  It gets a BIT on the dark side, but it was filmed at night, and not so much with day for night.

Audio: Perfectly acceptable for this sort of thing.

Sound Bite: "It's not for me to say!"  "It's not for us to listen..."

Body Count: For a movie that does nothing for a whole third, it sure does deliver by the end of the movie...

1 - First bank teller gets shot three and a half minutes in
2 - And the second one soon follows.
3 - Trish gets shot by Ruth
4 - Ruth then gets stabbed by Satan's Blade
5 - The snow bunny with brown curly hair in yellow gets drowned in the sink.
6 - Curly haired snowbunny is stabbed in back
7 - Another stabbing for the blonde snowbunny
8 - Sue gets stabbed
9 - Al gets his neck cut
10 - Lil gets Satan's Bladed in the back.
11 - Tony gets a poker through the gut.
12 - Lisa is maybe strangled to death
13 - Stephanie gets stabbed in the gut by the rookie cop

Best Corpse: They're all pretty samey, but the award goes to Lil, because after she gets stabbed, she struggles to crawl through the snow to get to the road, dying just before she could be found.

Peak Corpse: They figure out there really is a killer pretty quickly when they find a pile of bodies.

Blood Type - C+: An attempt is made, but there's no wounds, however points for trying.

Sex Appeal: I think every woman gets naked at one point or another.

Drink Up! Every time Al's love of food is mentioned.

Movie Review: The plot is okay enough, but it feels unfocused, and spins its wheels a lot more than I'd like.  Also, while there are some vague hints, I'd like a little more to point to the killer, or more red herrings.  It's perfectly okay, with some few notable highlights, and ultimately it's put together well enough, with some above average acting.  Three out of five monster masks

Entertainment Value: I enjoyed this ride, and the more I watch it, the more I like it.  It's still far from great, but it's got some memorable characters, and they're developed fairly well.  They better be for all the time we spend with them.  The killer is on the more unique side, and there's SOMEthing here.  It doesn't quite come together, but it's a fun enough ride.  Three out of five fireplace pokers.