Satan’s Sadists (1969)

Article #1274 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-9-2004
Posting Date: 2-6-2005
Directed by Al Adamson
Featuring Russ Tamblyn, Scott Brady, John “Bud” Cardos

A marine and a waitress escape from a gang of bikers who have murdered everyone else in a diner, but end up stranded in the desert with the bikers in hot pursuit.

I’m going to say from the outset that I really don’t have much of a liking for Al Adamson’s exercises in incoherent sleaze and sadism, and I was fully prepared to dislike this one intensely. I also don’t feel it really qualifies for the genres under discussion in this series, though I will admit that Anchor’s madness does nudge the movie in the direction of horror marginalia. However, the DVD opens with an introduction by Sam Sherman, and he claims (among other things) that this is Adamson’s best film, and quite frankly, I find myself agreeing with him. Just in basic terms of storytelling, it’s the only movie of his I’ve seen so far that hasn’t given me headaches trying to follow the plot. It has a sense of unity and completeness; it doesn’t feel cobbled together from several different movies. Also, given the subject matter and Adamson’s cinematic predilections, it shows a certain restraint; it’s not as sleazy or as sadistic as I expected it to be. It also features a strong performance from Russ Tamblyn, as the character of Anchor provides for him a radical departure from his usual roles up to this point; he even penned his big speech himself. The script is also somewhat more clever at times than I anticipated. Still, there are problems; the trip sequence is really nothing more than a bunch of annoying camera tricks, and the ending is decidedly anticlimactic, probably due to the fact that neither the marine nor the waitress ever come to life as characters. It would have been better if they had found a way to end the movie with the fight between Anchor and Firewater (John “Bud”Cardos), both of whom were a lot more interesting. It’s no classic, but it’s far better than the painful embarrassment I expected.


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