Here’s another installment featuring Joe Dante’s reviews from his stint as a critic for Film Bulletin circa 1969-1974. Our thanks to Video Watchdog and Tim Lucas for his editorial embellishments!
This ineptly produced but exploitable motorcycle‑maniacs‑on‑the‑rampage programmer from Independent‑International, which played some situations last summer, is getting a fresh ballyhoo pick‑up as a shocking story drawn from today’s gruesome headlines about the Sharon Tate murder case. This ploy, while not unresourceful, is tenuous at best, since, other than dealing with a gang of long‑haired killers (not hippies) and having been filmed in the California region where the current suspects once lived, it has about as much relation to the Tate case as it does to the disappearance of Judge Crater.
Furthermore, the Al Adamson production is moronically written, blurrily photographed in dim color, amateurishly acted and unconvincingly directed, with only its emphasis on violence and sex to keep the customers alert. Nevertheless, the spurious exploitation link to the current headlines, combined with a few bare breast shots and sex scenes, should enable SATAN’S SADISTS to rack up some successful engagements in ballyhoo houses and drive‑ins. Chubby Russ Tamblyn is ludicrously miscast as the psychotic gang leader.
Scott Brady and Kent Taylor are the only other real actors in the film, both of whom are quickly taken out and shot. Dennis Wayne’s obtuse screenplay has the raunchy Satan’s Sadists cycle gang wipe out one young couple even before the credits, raping the girl first. Then they invade a roadside desert diner, harassing vacationing policeman Brady’s fearful wife with such lines as, “Sure got a nice pair of boobs!” Tamblyn rapes the wife and shoots the couple in the head, along with diner owner Taylor, in revenge for all the poor flower children beaten up by cops.
Buxom waitress Jackie Taylor and heroic Vietnam veteran Gary Kent escape, and spend the rest of the picture wandering around the desert. The Satans surprise three buxom girls on a camping trip and force them to participate in a dull LSD orgy before Tamblyn kills them, too. By the end, one Sadist has been killed by a snake, one by playing Russian Roulette, and another crushed in a rockslide. Tamblyn is stabbed in the throat by war hero Kent, who credits the Marine Corps for his ability to survive, adding philosophically that “in Vietnam at least they paid me when I killed someone,” which presumably lends an air of social significance to the entire project.
1969. Independent‑International Pictures. Deluxe Color. 86 minutes. Russ Tamblyn, Regina Carrol, Scott Brady, Robert Dix, John Cantos. Produced and directed by Al Adamson.