Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Satan's Princess

Bert I. Gordon (ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST) on his best day was no better than an average director, but his enthusiasm and lack of taste were generally good for an entertaining movie. SATAN'S PRINCESS, Gordon's last film to date, is a well-paced and very silly combination of urban crime drama and supernatural chiller. And it features Borscht Belt comic Jack Carter as a 15th-century Spanish priest. You see what I mean.

One thing you gotta respect about Robert Forster (JACKIE BROWN) is that you can never catch him sleepwalking through anything. Not only does he always seem to give each project 100%, regardless of how big a turkey it is, he usually is able to jack the movie up a notch or two with his performance. SATAN'S PRINCESS is dumb and laughable, but I'll be damned if Forster doesn't fill in the gaps in Gordon's screenplay and create a full-fledged character that's a joy to watch.

Forster is Lou Cherney, a crippled ex-cop with a learning-disabled son and a put-upon girlfriend (MY TUTOR babe Caren Kaye). Cherney walks with a cane as a result of a shotgun blast in the line of duty that shattered his knee. His disability surprisingly doesn't affect the story a bit, although it does give Forster more to play than just a standard "moody, alcoholic ex-cop obsessed with an unsolved case he takes too personally." Providing him with a disabled son seems like overkill, but the boy does eventually become a story point.

The case Cherney can't shake involves a missing person: a female runaway he could never find. The girl's father hires Cherney to continue his investigation, which leads him to a murdered model and her boss at the agency, Nicole St. James (Lydie Denier). For reasons not immediately explained, Nicole takes a shining to the battered gumshoe and invites him back to her mansion for hot sex. Considering we've already seen Nicole engage in full-frontal lesbian sex with the girl that Cherney's searching for, we're now ready to anoint Bert I. Gordon as a genius.

This gets most of the sex out of the way, but there's more craziness to come. Just about everyone in Lou's life comes to a violent demise. His son is occasionally possessed by Nicole and driven to violent acts, including pounding an icepick into his old man's back and forcing a psychic to leap to her death. Cherney makes a call and picks up some homemade weaponry from a dude named Jilly, who's recognizable as actor Daryl Anderson, the unkempt photographer Animal from the LOU GRANT TV series. I'm not completely sure about the film's resolution, except that Cherney flames the French chick with a rickety-looking flamethrower that I wouldn't trust to fire BBs, much less napalm. She's supposed to be a 500-year-old demon, not an alien, but she still sheds her human skin to reveal some unrealistic man-in-a-suit effects.

Plenty of sex and violence keeps this junky freight train of schlock rolling right along with Forster and Denier doing their best to keep it classy. Forster's weary manner of handling the script's one-liners (which are really funny) adds intentional humor (God knows there's plenty of unintentional laughs), and he manages to kick plenty of ass, bad leg be damned. Unsurprisingly, Forster didn't sign on to make a picture called SATAN'S PRINCESS (who would?). It was filmed as THE MALEDICTION, but I can imagine the smell of sweat from the Paramount marketing execs who would have to sell that to video stores. If this ever played in theaters (and I suspect it may have), I have found no evidence of it.

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