Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Satan's Princess (1989) Bert I. Gordon

A fairly typically styled late 80's action horror trash effort, Satan's Princess often comes across similar to something David A Pryor (Sledgehammer, Deadly Prey, Night Trap) or his ilk would concoct. Sprightly but inelegant, occasionally jolting but never scary, generally daft but rarely witty, occasionally sexy but never seductive. Little innocent fun here to remind of the joyous inanity of earlier Bert I. Gordon efforts like The Amazing Collosal Man or The Cyclops, this is more of an attempted serious affair with a hard, even mean edge, and some agreeable sleaze and violence. The flimsy premise has hard boiled retired cop Lou Cherney (Robert Forster) taking on the case of a missing girl, in the process running into the evil schemes of one Nicole St. James, ancient she demon turned millionairess fashion house head. There's little effort to hold the plot together, there's some notion of a cult, of prophecy and psychic powers, pretty much all the expected tropes of an occult horror in a modern day setting in fact, but the stringing together of all these elements is perilously haphazard. Individual scenes are fun but often lack adequate justification and hence impact, and the lacking connective tissue means that the slower moments drag more than they should.

But they don't drag too much, mostly due to a way above the call of duty turn from B cinema veteran Forster, his tough but tender (some surprisingly sweet scenes with his mentally handicapped son), tired but determined (you'll cheer when he finally decides to really get rogue) performance seems more suited to a dour crime drama from the previous decade than a mis-shapen oddity of this sort. He isn't matched by Lydie Denier as the heavily French accented villainess, neither comically camp nor seductively sinister she pretty much coasts, though her nude scenes are good value (she really is one stunning lady) and she has good support from Michael Harris (later to be the titular villain in Sleepstalker) as a creepy and enthusiastically murderous henchman. Between the three of them and a small host of interesting side players popping in and out things are sustained, never exactly schintillating but always just about pleasing. And in the end Bert I Gordon remembers his roots for a splendid final ten odd minutes of utter silliness that is bound to raise a smile. In general I could have done with more coherency, more atmosphere (although we do get sleazy streets and a spot of 80's cop movie saxophone mourning) and more gore (just a few scenes of fun bloodshed here), but as far as this kind of junk goes, Satan's Princess score well enough. Recommended for the afficionados of this sort of thing.

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