Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Madam Satan (1970)

... aka: Madame Satan

Directed by:
Tom Gordon

In the early 70s, sex and Satanism went together like peanut butter and jelly. I'm not quite sure why that was, but there was a huge number of both hard and soft core sex films that centered their action around the occult, devil-worshippers, Satan and / or hell. Maybe the appeal was the combination of two societal taboos together after the recent erosion of censorship; sort of like a “Ha! Look at what we can do now and you can't do anything about it!” type of thing. Maybe audiences at the time were more turned on when their sex was blended with darker subject matter. Maybe it was just backlash from the recent success of such occult-themed hits as ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968). Or maybe they simply didn't know what else to do plot-wise and buying plastic horns, capes, candles and red light bulbs were just cheaper than the alternatives. The one recurring theme with these movies however is that nearly all of them are no budget, rock bottom, horribly made, horribly acted, barely-plotted and pretty much terrible in every way possible. This cycle certainly hit its crescendo with the hardcore classic The Devil in Miss Jones (1973); an anomaly in this subgenre in that it's a legitimately good movie. It may even be the only Satanic sex movie from this period that's any good at all. If there are others, I guess I just haven't stumbled upon them yet.

Five people, two men and three women, arrive at psychic Madam Cobra's (Linda Vroom) home and are let in and then seated at a table by her slow-talking half wit butler Igor. As they await the psychic's arrival, the camera zooms in on each guest's face, goes out of focus and then we learn a little more about them via flashback. “What in the hell am I doing here?,” wonders Jim Jackson (Richard Smedley) before we backtrack to his bedroom a few days earlier where he's woken up by Susan (Susan Westcott, from SEX PSYCHO) and then coerces her into the sack (“Why don't you slip into something more comfortable... like... my bed.”) Unbeknownst to Jim, Susan is actually in cahoots with his Uncle; a publisher who wants to expose Cobra as a fraud and fake spiritualist. The Uncle wants Susan to pose as “Lola Fontaine” and pretend like she wants the psychic to contact the ghost of her dead sister in order to collect an inheritance.

The other male guest, John, who looks a lot like Jeff Kober, then has a crazy recollection about having a red-hooded man burn his junk with a lit candle during an initiation rite to join “The Psycho Club.” Janet (Barbara Mills) isn't given a flashback at all but her friend Maggie (Pamela Westcott) is, which recalls how her past relationship ended...

“I'm a virgin and I'd like to stay that way till I'm married!”

“I'm beginning to think you are frigid. 
You just don't want me to know until our wedding night in case I call off the wedding.”

“Oh honey, you know that's not true!”

(pouncing on her)
“Then give it to me!”

(running away)


Blonde psychic Cobra finally shows up promising to give them “an experience you shall never forget.” She lays out the pre-seance ground rules (absolute silence, no breaking the chain), smoke rolls and suddenly everyone's sitting on the floor in a circle naked. Cobra, now wearing a black wig, announces herself as Madam Satan and tell them she's there to teach them “what sin is all about!” Everyone's led down a dark hallway by the whip-cracking butler until they meet a bearded, pot-bellied Satanic priest (James Mathers) who preaches and has his hooded servant Huntz give them “the elixir or lust.” Before everyone else can get down to business, “The Ritual of the Virgin” must be performed on you-know-who, which involves her being laid out on a table and the priest and Igor “anointing” her “loins.” Everyone else has sex in various combinations, except for Jim, who's chained to a wall and forced to watch. One of the big issues is that no one - not even a girl giving him oral pleasure while another girl sits on his face giving another guy oral pleasure - can get John excited. Not even Madam Satan, the “Queen of Sin” herself, can't get a rise out of the guy in the traditional way, so she chains the “little pervert” to the wall and whips him. When that doesn't work, she shoves a dildo up his ass (“Is this what you prefer?”) and the problem is finally solved.

I doubt this hour-long soft X sex flick is gonna be revving many engines these days, but that's not a problem. These no budget 70s oddities attract more of a cult fan following than they do avid porn watchers, anyway. Fans enjoy them because they're ineptly made and acted, gritty, grimy, grainy, dirty, sleazy, tasteless, outrageous and incredibly, impossibly cheap. This one happens to be all of those things. The camera is shaky and constantly zooms in and out, the canned jazz score is grating, the editing is awful and all of the action takes place in one home against blank white walls and in mostly barren rooms with just a bare minimum of props and furnishings. The séance room consists of a card table with a candle in the middle, folding chairs sitting around it and a cloth draping of an English lion (!?) on the wall, while hell has a mattress on the floor, a chain and that damn English lion draping again. Other props are just carried into the room from off-screen when needed.

In other words, pretty much everything going on is embarrassing and pathetic... but dammit if this thing isn't also incredibly funny at times. Sometimes the laughs are intentional, sometimes they're not, but that's not really important. What truly matters is that this is jam packed with ridiculous, crazy moments for bad movie fans to sink their teeth into. It's also packed with simulated sex and full male and female nudity. Once the cast lose their clothes they don't get them back until the last couple of minutes, meaning they're forced to enact this entire ridiculous scenario standing around naked, which itself becomes pretty hilarious. The acting is mostly terrible, but in that great, enthusiastic way, with Mathers and Vroom camping it up in an entertaining fashion. Male lead Smedley was a veteran of Al Adamson movies like Psycho a Go-Go (1965) and Brain of Blood (1971) and makes hilarious facial expressions during his love scenes. The only person receiving on-screen credit is the director / producer. There's not even a copyright anywhere to be found on the print.

I couldn't find any information about this title online aside from an Australian record that someone attempted to release a 16mm print there in 1974 but it was banned due to "indecency." I also couldn't find a single theatrical poster nor any advertising materials. According to IMDb, it was first distributed on VHS by Class X Video though, again, I could not find a video box to verify this. What is verifiable is that it made its DVD debut through Alpha Blue Archives, who've included it – along with 11 other devil / occult-themed soft and hardcore sex films - on their 4 disc set “Satanic Sickies Box 2.” In 2013, a company called After Hours Cinema also included it on a 3 film set called “Satan's Sex Party."


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