Nude for Satan (1974) Nude for Satan/Nuda per Satana (1974/1999)     -***

     Evidently even the Italians have limits. You will note the exceptionally long lag-time between Nuda per Satana’s original release and its eventual appearance in the English-speaking world. The reason for this is that this amazing piece of incomprehensible sleaze crashed and burned so disastrously in its home country that nobody at the time thought it was worth the bother of trying to export it. Indeed, whoever wrote the liner notes for the DVD edition estimates the number of people who actually saw it when it played in Italian theaters at somewhere in the neighborhood of 500! So whom, do you suppose, do we have to thank for saving Nude for Satan from its well-earned obscurity? Why, it’s those maniacs at Redemption Video, of course, the same people brought us the even more baffling The Reincarnation of Isabel. You’ve just got to admire somebody who has the nerve to start a company for the express purpose of re-releasing tawdry old movies that nobody much wanted to see the first time around. And considering the sheer number of titles Redemption has in its catalogue now, that insane strategy looks like it’s actually working. So here’s to you, Redemption Video folks— El Santo salutes you, even if he can see the implant scars on the breasts of the naked girl in the lesbovamp cheesecake reel that serves as your company production slate.

     Anyway, Nude for Satan... If we ignore what happens before the credits (Instant nudity! Hooray for instant nudity!), we start off with Dr. William Benson (Stelio Candelli, from Demons and Planet of the Vampires) driving down an unlit, winding country road in his VW Beetle. Suddenly, he sees a woman in white standing in the middle of his lane, and nearly wrecks his car trying to avoid hitting her. The woman is gone when Benson gets out of the driver’s seat to go looking for her, but my guess is she’s just moved a couple hundred yards further up the road, because no sooner has the doctor given up and turned back to his car than he hears the unmistakable sound of another automobile smashing itself to bits. (Just to make sure we get the point, the filmmakers have a disembodied wheel go rolling toward Benson a few seconds after he hears the crash. Man, that’s even funnier than having a naked chick prancing around in the woods before the credits for no good reason!) Benson, being a doctor, takes off running when he hears the crash, and he swiftly finds Susan (Rita Calderoni, of Delirium and The Reincarnation of Isabel— maybe the guys at Redemption just have a Rita Calderoni fetish, or something) lying semiconscious in what’s left of her vehicle. Benson carries Susan (and I can’t for the life of me figure out how William learns her name— she sure as hell doesn’t tell him) back to his bug, and then goes looking for help at the first building he comes to, an old castle up on a nearby hilltop.

     Since Nude for Satan is at least sort of a gothic, Benson has to knock loudly at the locked front gate for a good long while, only to have it open suddenly to reveal nobody standing anywhere near it. Benson goes on to fulfill the next subgenre requirement by wandering around in the poorly maintained and seemingly empty chateau, trying futilely to get somebody’s attention. When he finally does run across someone, it’s a man with worse teeth than even Shane MacGowan, whom Benson finds lying on a bed with what looks to be a dagger stuck in his throat. But dagger or no dagger, this man— whom I shall call Signore Malidenti for the sake of having some name for him to go by— is still quite healthy enough to ask Benson if there’s anything he can do for him. Benson just closes the door and tries the next room, strangely unfazed by what he has just seen. Benson is just as unflappable in the face of the couple he finds screwing like polecats behind the second door he opens; he just backs quickly out of the room and resumes his search for someone who isn’t too busy and shouldn’t be too dead to talk to him. Surprisingly enough, he finds such a person in the form of Susan, who comes sweeping into what I’m guessing is the castle’s parlor shortly thereafter. More is going on than just an unexpectedly speedy recovery on her part, though, because she’s now wearing a fancy, voluminous gown that’s about 250 years out of fashion, and she keeps calling Benson “Peter,” even though she knows damn well his name is really William. Oh— and she also wants to make out with him something fierce. William, being a fine, upstanding member of the medical profession, goes right along with her, though he protests all the while that he’s not who she seems to think he is.

     The next morning, Susan comes climbing up the hill to the castle, dressed once again in the clothes she was wearing when she had her wreck. She certainly doesn’t act like she’d spent the last night hanging around the chateau trying to get William into bed, and indeed she did no such thing. Evidently, Susan has a mysterious, horny double. While poking around outside the castle, Susan finds the front door, and like Benson before her, she goes inside. Interestingly, the place is in much better repair than it was the night before, and in addition to the now daggerless Signore Malidenti (who, by the way, is played by Renato Lupi), it is now occupied by a sinister man with piercing green eyes (James Harris). You’re familiar with the phrase, “undressing her with your eyes?” Well, you’re about to see it in action. The Green-Eyed Man gives Susan an especially penetrating stare, and her clothes literally vanish into thin air! They return a moment later, though, and the Green-Eyed Man proceeds to tell Susan that she’s welcome to stick around until her missing friend (that is to say, William) turns up; Green Eyes is sure he’s around somewhere. What he does not tell Susan is who he is, why he’s got that big glowing sign marked “!!Evil!!” hanging over his head, or how he made her clothes disappear a few moments ago.

     Not knowing what else to do, Susan takes the Green-Eyed Man up on his offer of hospitality, and helps herself to a bath. She also helps herself to some lesbian sex when her host’s gorgeous North African servant girl (Iolanda Mascitti) comes in to assist her in drying off afterwards. Hey— it’s an Italian movie called Nude for Satan; it’s got to have lesbianism in it at some point! Then she goes for a little stroll in the garden— dressed only in a towel, I might add— and finally runs into William. Except that William now has his hair combed in a completely different style, is dressed like an 18th-century nobleman, and insists on calling her “Evelyn.” You get the feeling this is that “Peter” character the 18th-century Susan kept talking about last night? Or that “Evelyn” might be the 18th-century Susan’s name? Yeah, me too. So anyway, Peter is just as amorously inclined toward Susan as Evelyn was toward William, but Susan, for her part, wants nothing whatsoever to do with the time-displaced letch. She just keeps walking away from him until she meets up with the Green-Eyed Man again, at which point Peter conveniently vanishes. Green Eyes shows Susan to the room he has prepared for her, and bids her goodnight even though it can’t possibly be later than noon. Whoops! Have a look out the window, there, Susan— it sure looks like nighttime to me...

     Alright, so now that everybody knows something fishy is going on at the castle, I’d say it’s about time we were given some idea of what that fishiness is. Unfortunately, the filmmakers do not agree. Instead, they just send Susan wandering around the place in the middle of the night so that she can uncover even more bizarre shit. First, she stumbles upon the dungeon-like room in which Signore Malidenti is flogging the shit out of the chambermaid. Then she sees the Green-Eyed Man hypnotizing the girl in order to communicate with Astharoth in the spirit world. Finally, she falls down a hole and winds up caught in a spider web, where she is menaced by a giant spider puppet of such abysmally poor quality that I don’t even know how to describe it. Her screams echoing throughout the house get William’s attention, and he stops slipping it to Evelyn long enough to come to Susan’s rescue.

     That doesn’t mean we’re done, though. Not by a long shot. The Green-Eyed Man intercepts Susan and William on their way to the front door, and when he orders them back to their bedrooms, they inexplicably comply. This leads eventually to an excuse for William to go exploring the castle alone after his companion has gone to sleep, and what he comes across is the closest thing to an explanation we’ll ever get out of Nude for Satan. William meets up with his own doppelganger at last, and Peter tells him that he and Evelyn are William and Susan’s evil sides. Okay. I suppose I can buy that, but I’d still really like to know what the hell is going on in the castle that allows a visitor’s inner Hyde to manifest itself as a separate being— especially since Susan hadn’t even set foot in the fucking place yet when Evelyn first appeared! That revelation, however, is not on the menu. While William and Peter argue philosophy, Susan comes looking for the former man, and Evelyn joins the party, too, just in time to lend some support to Benson’s seemingly crazy talk about evil alter egos. Then for no reason I can imagine, Susan and Evelyn merge, sit down on Peter’s lap, and start sucking face with him while William looks on aghast. The room suddenly becomes the chamber where the Green-Eyed Man had been consorting with the powers of darkness earlier, and naked chicks we’ve never seen before start popping out of coffins left and right to strike up an orgy with the assistance of some guys in loincloths who have the left halves of their bodies painted red. Green Eyes himself arrives next, sitting down on the throne at the back of the room and watching the action. Finally, Benson gets it into his head that the key to dispelling the castle’s evil lies in the musty old book out in the parlor. In it, he reads that fire is the weapon he requires (which would explain why Evelyn hated it so much whenever William smoked in previous scenes), and the doctor wastes no time in setting everything he can get his hands on alight. In a flash, William finds himself back on the road, looking down at Susan as she lies dead in her mangled car.

     Don’t even ask, man— I haven’t the first fucking clue. All I know is I had about 80 minutes’ worth of a pretty good laugh at Nude for Satan’s expense. That and another long and loving eyeful of Rita Calderoni. Between the two, I left this movie a satisfied man, and while I’m not sure I’d say all the effort Redemption Video must have put into finding and releasing Nude for Satan was worth it in the strict sense, I’m certainly glad they did. Besides, now I can honestly say I’ve seen a sexploitation horror flick that was too stupid for even the Italians to tolerate.



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