Directed by: Mario Bianchi
Written by: Piero Regnoli
Produced by: Gabriele Crisanti
Reviewed by: Brett H.
ďI will save you from the damned souls!Ē
Remake. The mere word sends shivers down the spines of many a horror fan, and although some overly exaggerate the negativity, thereís no question as to why some would quarrel with the idea of a retelling. There have been good remakes, there have been bad remakes and there have been remakes you just canít believe got produced in the first place. Satanís Baby Doll is one of these films. Crafted after Andrea Bianchiís dingy classic, Malabimba: The Malicious Whore (XXX), another Bianchi (of no relation), Mario, attempts a loosely based remake of a film that was at the time a mere three years old. Itís not going to be easy tackling one of Eurotrashís all time great sleaze directorsí efforts, especially since Malabimba is one of the grimiest movies of all time; one that rivals any in terms of taboo breaking and eroticism, all with hardcore inserts to boot. Malabimba writer Piero Regnoli and actress Mariangela Giordano return to the scene of the crime, but this time the demonic temptations are far less enticing.
The film opens with a shot of a cadaver lying in the middle of a room, the womanís family and doctor surrounding her in somber. The woman, Maria (Marina Hedman), leaves behind her daughter Miria (Jaqueline Dupre) and self-centered husband Antonio (Aldo Sanbrell). Amidst the family is a hopeful woman of God who hasnít gotten the label of nun just yet, but is trying her best to do so. Her name is Sol (Mariangela Giordano) and she holds everything together, if it werenít for her the paralysed brother of Antonio would surely be neglected. After placing Mariaís corpse in the family crypt, she suddenly jumps up momentarily. This shocks everyone, but the doctor assures the family that sheís really dead and these types of things happen all the time, it was merely a muscular spasm. Creepier yet, her eyes fixated on Miria, who has taken the tragedy the hardest, but luckily Sol is there to comfort her in her time of need.
The castle is also resident to a superstitious man who seems to know whatís going to happen before anyone else. As he chants to save Miriaís soul from an evil entity, she unknowingly walks in on his ritual in the crypt and comes face to face with her motherís corpse again. A scream is heard and Sol and Antonio discover her in the crypt, crying, saying her mother is alive! Sure enough, Mariaís soul tries to remain in the world of the living through her daughterís body and one by one, corpses begin piling up in the dank basement of the castle. But, why is Maria so reluctant to take the journey to the other side, selfishly using her daughter as a pawn of destruction and seduction? And, what has everyone who seemingly loved and was loved by Maria, done to deserve it? Itíll only make sense in the final moments of the film, but one fact is certain from the get-go. On this journey to hell, clothing is definitely optional!
Satanís Baby Doll fails to deliver the trashy cuisine that its bigger, more voluptuous, sickening and sleazy sister, Malabimba brought to the table. The remake is loose, the main consistencies in both are demonic possession, nunsploitation and some incest with a few scenes (although subdued here) present in each film. Thatís a good thing in my books, though, I enjoy loose remakes much more than shot for shot types, at least they stem a certain amount of actual relevance. Thereís plenty of nudity, but you can throw the extreme perversions of Malabimba out the window as Mario Bianchi puts forth a much more restrained effort (at least in regards to the wonderful world of Eurosleaze). Itís a classic example of mentioning the word ďremakeĒ in regards to a film that at its own game, simply can not be topped. Incest is featured to a slight degree in scenes regarding Miria and her father as well as her invalid uncle, but itís a walk in the park when stood beside scenes from other gems of the era. One thing that may contribute to the let down you feel due to lack of trashiness is the filmís cover art, which consists of Satan wrapping his crimson arms around a young lady. You go in thinking this is going to be a more tenacious affair than it is and that it actually deals with the devil himself or that perhaps a scene such as this will show up in the movie.
At the same time, thereís no real business comparing an icon of sleaze to its troubled sibling, itís just not fair. The problem is as its own movie, Satanís Baby Doll still has trouble at times keeping up a quality pace and garnering interest. At a mere 73 minutes, the film is very watchable in the state itís in, and itís great to see it was released with a shorter running time than adding filler that would have surely destroyed the movie. Those who do stick around for the duration of the movie will be rewarded as the ending finally brings closure to what seemed to be random, motiveless kills that took place in the preceding 65 minutes. The backbone of the film lies in nunsploitation, as Mariangela Giordano dons the habit once again and portrays another nun in peril. Antonio wants to ďdesecrate Solís templeĒ and she is pulled into temptation by Mariaís entity (who seduces from the body of Miria, but is most times visible as herself). And most importantly, as with every film of hers Iíve seen, sheís wonderfully naked many, many times.
Miria is the young woman who is being taken for a hellacious journey much like Malabimba before her, but the characters are much different. Rather than being sexually curious and a bit boyish looking ala Malabimba, she has a more stereotypical dirty blonde look and really has little soul in the movie. Sheís used as a gateway into the world by the demonic being and nothing more. At the same time, I have no complaints when the young lass sensually rubs the older Giordano! While the film is toned down extremely from what you may expect, the kills are a lot of fun and the ending is rewarding. Not to mention, Satanís Baby Doll travels into much appreciated zombie territory during a scene in the family crypt as a mummified corpse comes to life and chokes a superstitious zealot to death. The filmís creepy crypt will definitely satisfy your hunger for atmosphere and I am a fan of the filmís soundtrack. Other than the quality main track (which seems muffled), the accompanying pieces make scenes much more tense. Cheese is also featured throughout the film, but the smelliest stuff is served up during attempted rituals to save Miria by an evil superstition (in other words, the only one who knows whatís going on!) guru. He mostly just chants her name while hovering over dead bodies and he uses a chicken in one of his attempts. Anyone familiar with nunsploitation knows that the chicken must go and thereís no exception here!
Severin presents the film on DVD with a good, but grainy 1.66:1 widescreen transfer and is in the original Italian language with English subtitles. The audio is fine, except something tells me when the original sound men mixed the main theme they messed up and it was left a bit muffled, which is a shame. Iíd put down a hefty penny that the film has never (and will never) look or sound better. The usual nudity bursting Italian trailer is present along with an interview with director Mario Bianchi in which he talks about his career and the film in general, which is a pretty good watch. He talks about the filmís low budget and he doesnít try to make the film be anything other than what it is. All in all, itís another solid effort from Severin, even if the movie has incest, too many full frontals to count, nuns, an over the top asshole character, and possession, yet still manages to barely offend. Thankfully, the creepy atmosphere and amusing kill scenes save the day. Compared to that Malicious Whore sister of hers, Satanís Baby Doll wonít wear you out. On her own, she has just enough moves that you should take her on to see the, at times, delicious sin that hides behind an all too plain nightie. Rent it!
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