Perfect for Halloween: The Killing of Satan!

If you're anything like me, you know you need this movie in your life just from the cover.  Now, does the movie actually live up to that picture?  Well actually, surprisingly, pretty much, yes.  Does a guy in jeans contend with a giant snake, a lady who shape-shifts into a killer dog, a zombie and a red devil?  You bet!  This is The Killing of Satan, a 1984 Filipino horror adventure that delivers all of that and plenty more.  Not since Coffin Joe went directly to Hell in This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse has Old Nick come to such vivid on-screen life.  It's a perfect creature feature for Halloween night.
So how to begin explaining this film?  Well, it's a bit like Harry Potter in that our hero, Lando (you'll remember his name by the end of this movie, that's a promise), comes from the average, everyday world.  But he's brought into a world early on where everybody around him and just about every character we meet from then on is some kind of wizard.  And he has quickly to learn to use the magical powers he never knew he had as he fights the bad guys.  See, Lando's uncle is one of the top wizards in his little village, but the evil Prince of Magic and his thugs mortally wound him.  So he has to use the last of his powers to summon Lando from the city to come to his peoples' rescue.  In classic hero's journey-form, Lando refuses the call, but then some other thugs shoot him and his son, and the uncle uses the last of his magical life force to save him, and so then he's really obligated to go.
full frontal nudity in all its interlaced glory
So Lando goes to the village and just as he's finding out that his uncle is dead and that he has hidden magical powers, the prince attacks again!  I've just seen the new Dr. Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch, and this is kind of like the low budget Filipino version of that.  Magic spells back and forth, ray beams, gushing wins, and an awesome spinning spell you just have to see for yourself.  This time the prince capture's most of the villages women, who he keeps trapped naked in a cage with magical bars and forces them to do his bidding with some magical neckbands.  So Lando and his buddy race off to save them, but before he can reach the prince and his men, he has to face a whole collection of weirdos in his path, including a naked snake man, evil seductresses and a mysterious mute child who can lead them on their way.  I won't spoil the second half, but all that stuff on the poster happens and Lando not only confronts the prince, but works his way up the chain to fight one on one with Satan himself.
If you want overly ambitious 80s special effects, this is your Christmas morning.  Yeah, it's all cheap, horribly dubbed and clearly poorly acted even underneath that dubbing.  But that's just part of the charm.  One of the things that really keeps this film entertaining is that there's always something new.  A cavalcade of monsters and and constantly varying special effects.  Sure, sometimes they shoot rotoscoped beams at each other, but other times it's a super-imposed pinwheel or an on-set wind machine blowing people over.  If they'd managed to squeeze in a little stop-motion, this would be a full-blown Harryhausen adventure, always ready to throw you a curve ball.  The film seems somewhat old school and chaste until you hit the scenes of extreme gore and full frontal nudity.  I mean, don't get me wrong, the film's terrible in all the traditional senses - it's the kind of movie my mother can't understand why I would ever want to watch it.  But it's also a kind of wonderful that very few movies can ever begin to live up to.  It could have made a perfect episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and after the kickstarter, who knows, it still might), but most of those movies, taken without their riffing, are deathly dull.  This one's a blast all on its own.
Unfortunately, The Killing of Satan is pretty much M.I.A. on the home video front.  It's one of those titles desperately in need of a cult label's attention.  But it's not completely unavailable.  There is a grey market DVD from Substance, the same label that brought us that crappy Monster Dog DVD.  And this DVD lives down to those standards of crappiness.  Full screen?  Of course.  Soft and smeary?  Just like soft ice cream.  Sourced from a video tape?  Looks that way.  Seriously interlaced?  Oh yeah!  Buzzing sound?  Check.  Bizarre vertical line of video noise running up the right-hand side of the picture through the entire movie?  Why yes, now that you mention it.
And what about extras?  The director, Efren C. Piñon, has made almost fifty cult and exploitation films, and its writer is an award winning filmmaker who's still in the business to this very day!  The cast and crew is full of successful Filipino actors and effects artists with tons of film and television credits.  Do we get to hear from any of them?  Ha ha ha!  This is a Substance release, there isn't even a trailer.  The only thing we get is a "Gallery" which just consists of still shots taken from the exact same video transfer the main film plays in.  Although, I have to admit, their menu screen is pretty cool.
The devil takes many forms, or at least two, in The Killing of Satan!
Yes, this film is badly in need of an HD restoration, and the good news is: it's possible!  Apparently Drafthouse has been known to screen this natural crowd pleaser on 35mm.  So if just a couple of the right people make the right phone calls, we could conceivably have an amazing looking 2k scan of this film in HD widescreen!  Seriously, this and Spookies, those guys need to get off their butts and put this out on their own label or let somebody like Arrow get hold of it.  But in the meantime, at least there's the Substance.

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